| David Beckham: Money machine
London, Oct. 25: Both on and off the pitch, David Beckham's image has lost a fair amount of its former sparkle.
His form for club and country, it is widely agreed, is not what it was. A deluge of revelations about extramarital trysts and steamy text messages mean he is no longer seen as the clean-cut, wholesome role model he once was.
Yet none of the turbulence in his life over the past 18 months appears to have diminished his huge earning potential. Quite the contrary.
The latest accounts of Footwork Productions, the company whose 'principal activity is the provision of the (off-the-field) services of David Beckham', show a turnover of '10.4 million in the last eight months of last year ' twice the previous year's takings.
Sports marketing experts estimate the England captain to be earning '15 million a year from advertising and endorsements ' more than three times his '4.4 million annual salary from Real Madrid.
He is thought to be well on track to making at least more than '130 million, making him the richest British sportsman.
Nigel Currie, the director of the Gem group, sports marketing specialists, said the unique mixture of elements that made Beckham so attractive to sponsors meant his earning potential was less related to his sporting achievements than for other stars.
'There is no doubt Beckham is in a league of his own,' said Currie. 'He has so much more to offer than any other footballer ever has. He just has everything ' the looks, the style, the marriage to a pop star. The key is that, unlike players like Owen and Rooney, he is no longer reliant on his abilities on the football field.
'So while his form has dropped recently, it does not affect his earning potential from sponsorship. Neither have the off-the-field revelations about his personal life. We think his total portfolio is up to a figure of about '15 million in sponsorship earnings per year because of some new recent deals that would not yet show up in these accounts.'
Beckham, 29, is the only shareholder of Footwork Productions and he paid himself a salary of '7.9 million over eight months, while the company's account grew from '451,399 to '2.66 million. He is believed to earn more than any other footballer in the world. He has deals with top brands including Pepsi, Gillette and Adidas.
In August, weeks after Beckham's poor performance in Euro 2004, Vodafone signed him up for a year-long advertising deal reported to be worth '6 million.
Currie added: 'You would not rate him as England's greatest footballer, but he is earning more than any other footballer in this country ' and I expect the world ' from sponsorship.
'There are huge names like Figo and Zidane and others at Real Madrid who are probably better footballers but his overall marketability puts him out in front. I'd say '100 million is easily doable assuming he is a footballer for the next three years and has a high profile for the next five.'
Beckham is, however, unlikely ever to earn as much America's sporting superstars, because he has been unable to crack the US market. American basketball legend Michael Jordan, who retired at age 28, is the world's richest sportsman with a '250-million fortune.