The "battle to pull off one of the biggest coups in Australian sport has begun as five A-League clubs kicked off the race to sign David Beckham," according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Negotiations "are still at an early stage, but the A-League's bid to lure Beckham from the California coast to Australian shores is gathering momentum." Fairfax Media understands that "one club has submitted its offer to Beckham's representatives, and four more are expected to tender bids by Tuesday night." Which club made the official offer "remains unknown," but Melbourne Heart, Adelaide United and Perth Glory have all confirmed their intent to sign the football star. Heart CEO Scott Munn publicly expressed his interest in luring the star to AAMI Park, "and believes he could leave a long legacy after a stint in Melbourne." Meanwhile, Glory CEO Paul Kelly has outlined his desire for Perth to outdo its rivals' marquee signings, and "will pull out all the stops to snare Beckham" (SMH, 11/19). In Sydney, Ray Gatt reported Glory Owner Tony Sage said that it would be "one of his greatest personal achievements in the sport if he can pull off a deal to sign" Beckham. Sage said that Glory, last season's beaten A-League grand finalist, "is preparing a bid for Beckham" following news that Beckham was "interested in coming to Australia once his commitments" with Major League Soccer club L.A. Galaxy end next month. Sage said, "On a personal level, signing David Beckham would be up there ... the number one thing other than my decision to buy Glory in the first place. It's a huge commitment, but something I would love to pull off" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/19). In Melbourne, David Davutovic noted Glory "is the first A-League club to table an offer" to Beckham. Glory's offer "is believed to be for a 10-game guest stint." Advertising guru John Singleton told News Ltd. that "he'll back any move" to get Beckham to the Central Coast. Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory are the only clubs that have ruled themselves out of the race, while it is believed Wellington Phoenix will not be "bidding for his services" (HERALD SUN, 11/19).
IN DENIAL: THE ADVERTISER's Val Migliaccio noted Adelaide Chair Greg Griffin said that the club had "instructed its football director Michael Petrillo to make contact with the superstar's agent" once his contract ends. Despite Beckham's agent "denying reports Australia may be a destination, it's understood his management doused the A-League flame because Beckham is still in season with L.A. Galaxy." Griffin said, "Once David Beckham ends his season with L.A. Galaxy, the race is on" (THE ADVERTISER, 11/19). The AP's Rob Harris noted that Beckham's representatives "ruled out the former England captain moving to an Australian club as uncertainty surrounds his future" at his current club. Football Federation Australia had claimed that it had "received an approach by an agent representing the 37-year-old to play some matches with an A-League team this season" (AP, 11/16). FFA CEO David Gallop responded to the denials on radio and said that "there was no need for A-League clubs to be disheartened." He said that a "similar situation arose earlier this year" when Del Piero's camp tried to distance themselves from speculation linking him to Sydney FC. Gallop: "A similar thing happened with Del Piero in terms of the contact and, as we all know, that came to be. So let's just see how this one plays out. It's certainly an exciting proposition -- no one would deny that" (AAP, 11/17).