FA chairman Lord Triesman has turned to David Beckham to help salvage England's flagging 2018 World Cup bid.
Beckham has emerged as a key figure, to the extent that the cash-strapped bid team will spend £50,000 getting the former England skipper to Cape Town two days ahead of the World Cup draw on December 4 to ensure he is able to meet all the influential movers and shakers in the game.
Triesman explained: "We have committed ourselves not just to ensuring he gets there for the full time slot but also that we can look after his security and arrangements. It is not a question of luxury, just a reflection of the personality that he is."
There had been some dissent at the amount of cash required to get Beckham from Gelsenkirchen - where he will play an exhibition match for LA Galaxy against Schalke - to South Africa on a charter flight. But wise counsel has prevailed given Beckham is the Englishman who generates most attention at every level.
Triesman continued: "The person most people have said they want to meet is David Beckham. We will use him as much as possible because he is such a fantastic ambassador. He loves the sport, he loves the idea England can win this and he believes we can win.
"We cannot forget he is still playing but he is willing to be as generous with his time as his commitments allow. He is very patriotic and we will get a big input from him."
Beckham needs to make an impact too. A bid that seemed to be the favourite 12 months ago is suddenly languishing behind Spain, Russia and Australia in perception if not fact.
With criticism about the bid's direction mounting following a stinging attack by influential FIFA executive committee member Jack Warner and the subsequent furore over a handbag given to his wife, Triesman has already taken decisive action.
He has trimmed down the board - kicking some members including former Sports Minister Richard Caborn off altogether and placing others onto an advisory panel, including Karren Brady.
His predecessor at the FA, Geoff Thompson - who did not have an official position despite being a senior figure with both FIFA and UEFA - has been brought on to the board, while former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein will be used in a role which has yet to be fully outlined.
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