Perth Glory is piecing together a $2 million bid to snare David Beckham on a 10-game guest stint – but admits Melbourne Heart may be the favourite in the race to bring the star to Australia.
Central Coast Mariners chairman Peter Turnbull has also expressed a strong desire to sign the iconic ex-England captain while Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United remain on the periphery of the Beckham bidding as the A-League rolls out the welcome mat.
So far Heart and Glory are the only two A-League clubs to make formal offers for the ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid man through Australian agent Lou Sticca, who is liaising with Beckham's managament.
But wiith the 37-year-old's six-year stay at Los Angeles Galaxy to end after the Major League Soccer final against Houston Dynamo on December 2 (AEDT), Mariners chief Turnbull has combined forces with multi-millionaire advertising guru John Singleton to join the stampede for his signature.
Glory is working to align with Football Federation Australia (FFA) and the West Australian State government – plus a bevy of outside backers and sponsors – to turn its Beckham bid into a reality.
CEO Paul Kelly said: "Initially we see David Beckham coming as a guest player but realistically you are looking at around $2 million to make that happen. You would not be getting too much change out of that, I wouldn’t think.
"We are liaising with Lou Sticca (the Australian agent in contact with Beckham’s management) and we’re just waiting to hear back on whether he has the appetite to come to Australia.
"You would expect FFA might help out with the marketing budget if he were to come here and we are also looking at attracting support from the state government.
"The appetite to get him here his massive. We have sponsors waiting and business people have come to us offering to get involved.
"I hope he comes to Perth but it would be great to have him in the A-League full-stop."
Kelly said while Glory owner Tony Sage was ready to dig deep, it would not "get into a bidding war" with Heart, declaring: "We are aware they have also tabled a formal offer and perhaps at this stage they are the front runners.
"We have done our numbers and we will only go so far in terms of bidding."
Perth, if successful in its Beckham hunt, would move its home games from a reduced capacity nib Stadium to Subiaco Oval – with government permission – with Kelly saying sell-out crowds would go a long way to helping Glory break-even on the project.
Though Perth does not rate with Sydney in terms of global appeal, Kelly is adamant Beckham and wife Victoria would feel right at home in a city which boasts more millionaires per capita than any other in the country.
"(Former Argentine striker) Gabriel Batistuta lived here for a number of years and loved the lifestyle. The British comedian Ben Elton lives and loves it here. The world’s richest woman Gina Rinehart lives here.
"It's painted as a sleepy town but it's a sleepy town for a reason because people like living here.
"It annoys me when people say, 'why wouldn't he go to Sydney or Melbourne?'. I say 'why wouldn't he come to Perth'?"
Turnbull, who believes Beckham will only consider NSW as a base, said: "We're putting a package together which we think will be very attractive for David Beckham and his family.
proposal. We have the support of John Singleton, some prominent large
businesses and possibly local government."
Beckham, whose availability has sparked interest from leagues around the world, confirmed his impending departure from Galaxy on its website, saying: "I've had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy, however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career."
He has made 98 appearances for the club since signing in 2007, scoring 18 goals and helping spark unprecedented expansion and interest in the MLS during that time.
Sticca, the man responsible for bringing the Galaxy to Australia on three occasions and the instigator of Alessandro Del Piero’s arrival in the A-League, said: "My impression is that David Beckham wouldn’t want to let too much time pass before making a decision on the Australian offers.
"He finishes with Galaxy next week, so why would he wait too long to decide on his future? At the end of the day, he wants to play football, so I don’t see him taking three months off or anything like that.
"I think things could become a lot clearer in two weeks or so. The sooner we have a decision from his people the better, so the clubs that have made offers know where they stand."
It had to wait until the last game of the last round but Sydney FC has finally booked its place in the A-League finals with a 2-1 win over Perth Glory.