LONDON — Two of England’s biggest soccer clubs are auditioning to star in the movie “Goal!,” a co-production between Lawrence Bender and Milkshake Films.

English League champion Manchester United is vying with Newcastle United to feature in the first film of a trilogy about a young Latino player who travels from Los Angeles to Europe in search of soccer stardom.

Mike Jefferies, an L.A.-based Brit who co-owns Milkshake, is visiting Newcastle and Manchester in the next few days to choose which club the fictional player will sign for.

“They both understand the value of exposing their brand in this way, particularly to the emerging markets of the United States and Asia,” Jefferies said. “Both have fantastic stadia, training facilities, squads and local culture. It’s just a question of which club is more enthusiastic about giving us the access we need.”

He is also in talks with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona for the second movie, when the player will move to a club in Spain. The final film will take the pic’s hero to the World Cup.

Quick moves foreseen

No cast, director or distributor has yet been set for the project, but Jefferies said these will fall into place quickly once the clubs are signed.

“There are a whole bunch of dominoes lined up that stand behind us closing a deal with a specific club,” Jefferies said. “That should happen in the next two or three weeks.”

Piers Ashworth is writing the screenplay, based on an original idea by Jefferies. Bender is leading the project’s creative development, while Jefferies and his partner Matt Barrelle are putting together the commercial side.

As well as negotiating with the clubs, the producers are also talking to the major equipment manufacturers to which the clubs are linked — Adidas for Newcastle and Madrid, Nike for Manchester and Barcelona — and to other major soccer sponsors such as Pepsi (Manchester United) and Coca-Cola (Newcastle).

The plan is to have the first film ready for release by fall 2004, followed by the second the following year and the final installment in May 2006, just before the next World Cup in Germany.