Real president Ramon Calderon knew he had gaffed and made a bid - in vain - to rescue a looming black hole in the club budget created by Beckham's departure.
How big? It was of record proportions, as LA Galaxy president of business development Tom Payne revealed to tribalfootball.com.
"In the first year we had David Beckham we sold 600,000 shirts which is by far the largest-selling jersey in any sport in the world at that time," recalled Payne.
"At the end of the day it's the franchise value that's sort of grown the most. On top of that there's the technical side, the competitive side. When international players talk about coming to the States they talk about coming to the Galaxy first and foremost.