Source: AFP | 2012-11-21 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
AUSTRALIAN football declared yesterday the "race is on" to bring David Beckham Down Under, with at least four clubs showing interest and one confirming it will lodge a compelling offer.
Speculation about the 37-year-old's interest in coming to Australia's A-League has been mounting ever since Football Federation Australia said last week that it had been approached by the player's representatives.
Beckham has shrugged off the suggestion, but the revelation on Monday that he is ending his time as a player with his US Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy early next month has energized Australian teams' efforts to secure him.
In a statement, Beckham said: "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."
"David Beckham has confirmed the MLS Cup final will be his last game for the Galaxy. The race is on," tweeted A-League team Perth Glory, which has put its hat in the ring for the former Manchester United star for a 10-game stint.
Melbourne Heart has also expressed interest in Beckham, who officials believe would spur massive interest in the game in Australia where the sport has traditionally been crowded out by cricket, rugby league and rugby union.
Chief executive Scott Munn said the Heart will make an offer but refused to put a figure on it. Reports said it would be for Beckham to feature as a guest player for 10 weeks, worth up to A$2 million (US$2.1 million).
"What I can say is that it's certainly real, we're putting forward an offer, it's compelling and the opportunity is here for him to come here," said Munn.
Los Angeles faces Houston for the MLS title on December 1. But it doesn't mean the 37-year-old Beckham isn't retiring.
"I don't see this as the end of my relationship with the league, as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future," Beckham said.
Beckham has played six years in Los Angeles since his groundbreaking move from Europe, reaching three league finals and winning one MLS title last year during his best season stateside.
He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Galaxy in January after playing out his initial five-year deal, turning down potential moves to Paris St-Germain and other clubs.
"Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport," said Tim Leiweke, the president of Galaxy owners AEG.
"David not only took our (club) to another level, but he took our sport to another level.
"It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of his world, and more importantly, to have him be a part of ours."