The Western Sydney Wanderers could be on the verge of hosting the biggest name in football with David Beckham’s mooted A-League stint most likely to take place in either Sydney or Brisbane.
However, with Sydney FC already hosting the biggest current name in the A-League, Alessandro Del Piero, the Wanderers suddenly loom as a far more realistic option for Beckham should the deal go ahead.
Also on the Wanderers’ side is that Football Federation Australia owns the club – meaning that the money could come directly from the pockets of chairman Frank Lowy.
There is even a real possibility that Beckham’s deal could be a permanent one if he and his wife Victoria Beckham decide they want a longer stay in Australia. He is available to take up a loan deal from January, although his current contract with MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy does not expire until December 2013.
Lowy previously offered to put the money up if the Wanderers wanted to sign German international Michael Ballack. However, that deal was scuppered when coach Tony Popovic insisted that he was not interested in Ballack, effectively killing the deal. The Wanderers eventually settled for Japanese international Shinji Ono instead.
While Popovic has negotiated final refusal on any say on every signing the Wanderers make, if Lowy decides to put the money up to sign the ex-England superstar, it will be the final say on the matter.
Brisbane are in the mix because it’s believed their billionaire owners, the Bakrie Group, would see David Beckham as the ideal way to put Brisbane Roar on the map globally – and to fill out the 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium, something they have only ever done when hosting grand finals.
While a source close to the negotiations told Fairfax Media it was almost certain that Beckham would come to the eastern seaboard, it’s thought that neither Melbourne Victory nor Melbourne Heart’s owners would have the money to pull off such a deal.
It is not known exactly how much Beckham would be paid but the source said it wouldn’t be less than a “seven-figure sum” for a guest stint. He would instantly become the highest-paid athlete in Australia on a per-game basis.
Beckham is available because he is coming to the end of his time in America, where he has earned A$6.3 million per season since signing a five-year deal in 2007. It is also estimated that he earned A$20.3 per season in sponsorships earnings.
However, that playing contract with the Galaxy was signed when Beckham was 31 - and still an England international, meaning his on-field earning powers have diminished somewhat since.
But even at 37, Beckham is showing remarkable resilience, playing perhaps his best season in the MLS in 2012, scoring seven goals and registering nine assists in 28 matches.
The man responsible for bringing out Del Piero, Ono and Dwight Yorke to the A-League, Lou Sticca, was also central to the negotiations that saw Beckham visit Australia three times with the Galaxy as they played exhibition matches in front of packed houses in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle. Sticca is thought to be at the heart of discussions once again.
Beckham’s commitments are not finished in the US with the Galaxy making the final of the MLS Cup where they are due to face Houston Dynamo on December 1 in Los Angeles.
He has only ever played for five clubs since turning professional in 1993 - Manchester United, Real Madrid, Los Angeles and loan stints at Preston North End and AC Milan - and has won 115 international caps for England.