Sydney: Australian football declared on Tuesday 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 Monday that he is ending his time as a player with his US Major League Soccer (MLS) 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, whom officials believe would spur massive interest in football in Australia where the sport has traditionally been crowded out by cricket, rugby league and rugby union.
Chief executive Scott Munn Tuesday 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 Aus$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.
"That is absolutely legitimate."
Beckham's name has been linked to the Western Sydney Wanderers while the Central Coast Mariners, based north of Sydney, are also thought to be keen.
"There's stuff going on behind the scenes. We're definitely putting our hand up," Australian Associated Press quoted a Mariners spokesman as saying.
"He would fill the stadium and change the game up here."
The A-League, which has struggled over the years with patchy crowds and financial troubles, has recently been boosted by several high-profile imports including Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero who plays for Sydney FC.
The FFA also hopes that having a player of his calibre will boost the overall quality of play in the competition and help keep Australian teams in the elite tier of the Asian professional leagues.