The Canberra A-League bid are in advanced talks to partner with a European club in a move they believe will make their bid irresistible to Football Federation Australia.
Fairfax Media can reveal the Canberra bid team have been in negotiations with the Champions League club for months and are close to signing a partnership agreement.
It is understood the deal could be similar to the one between Manchester City and Melbourne City, who share resources and are owned by the same company.
Canberra are locked in a fierce battle to secure one of two A-League expansion licences being handed out on October 31, with their main bid rivals coming from Sydney and Melbourne.
FFA boss David Gallop is wary of expanding into cities with less than a million people after Townsville's North Queensland Fury survived just two seasons before falling into financial ruin.
Canberra has a population of just under 400,000 people but the backing of a European juggernaut would likely negate Gallop's concerns.
There are more than 30,000 registered players in Canberra's senior and junior competitions.
The Canberra bid are also reporting a groundswell of corporate support and have met with ACT chief minister Andrew Barr in a bid to secure government funding.
They're looking for a government commitment similar to the $23 million over 10 years they granted to AFL club GWS Giants to play three games a season in the capital.
Barr is a supporter of the bid and has said A-League content is a must if the government are to build a new $350 million rectangular stadium in Civic.
Canberra have signed up more than 4000 foundation members less than a month after launching their campaign and are expected to surpass the 5000 target this month.
Canberra's expansion proposal is based on a "50 plus one" ownership model which is designed to mirror the one used in Germany. It's based on the Bundesliga where clubs can only obtain a licence if its members retain overall control of operations.
There is no sign-up fee to become a Canberra member and fans will get a say in the club colours, team name, crest and constitution if the bid is successful.
Canberra members will get to voice their opinions on how their club should be shaped and operated when the bid host its first fan forum at the Woden Hellenic Club on Thursday night.
The forum will bring members up to speed with how the bid is tracking and it provides the Canberra community its first chance to start building a team they can call their own.
The bid met with the FFA last week for an advanced information sharing session, with A-League operations data made available to the 10 remaining bids.
Canberra bid leader Michael Caggiano said they were on the "home straight" and he remained confident their proposal will be the strongest submitted to the FFA.
“We’re in a great position, but there is still of work still to be done," Cagianno said.
“The various streams of the bid are coming together well; the commercials, the football operations, and the community and regional aspects. We’re in a good place.
“The meeting with FFA was extremely positive. We came away with confidence in our bid and the process FFA is undertaking.
“The level of progress and conversations we are having are well advanced and will set this club up to great things in this league and in this community.
“The key is to continue the membership drive momentum, we really want to send a message to all concerned that there is a large and vocal fan base here."
The two successful bids will join the A-League for the 2019-20 season.
The forum will start at 6:30pm on Thursday at the Woden Hellenic Club.