It’s nearly 14 years since South Melbourne FC was part of a national league, and as the competition intensifies to join an expanded A-League as one of two new clubs, South has announced the recruitment of a senior Victorian Government Minister to its A-League bid team.

Martin Foley holds an impressive number of portfolios in the Daniel Andrews government including Minister for Housing, Disability & Ageing; Mental Health; Equality; Creative Industries. Having been the State Member for Albert Park for 11 years now, Foley has worked closely with the club over a number of years particularly in helping it secure a beneficial stadium deal at Lakeside.

In a club media statement, Chairman of South Melbourne’s A-League Advisory Panel Bill Papastergiadis commented on Foley joining the South Bid team, “Martin has worked closely with the club for over 8 years. He was instrumental in SMFC achieving its 40 year lease deal. He regularly attends games. He is at many of our events. His presence on the Bid Team reflects his deep connection to the Club. This appointment is not symbolic as he has been deeply involved in the Club for many years.”

Speaking in a club media statement, Foley said of his recruitment to the team, “I’m down here at the South Melbourne club to be part of its ground breaking A League Bid. I’m proud to be part of the Bid Board. This club does not just have a proud history but has more than a fantastic coming together of boys girls men’s women’s clubs today, it’s got a fantastic future and that future is in the A League. So I’m really proud to be part of this support for the South Melbourne A League Bid.”

“I’m the State Member for Albert Park and the Club is located right here in the heart of Albert Park Reserve where it’s been part of the community for over half a century. It’s an integral part of this community, it drives right across the South East of Melbourne so much of the football ecology and it’s a really dynamic club. Not just locally but in increasingly internationally. Its ground breaking work with Chinese Football is something to be admired. Its engagement with all of our schools, all of our kids and its work in women’s football is just inspirational. This is a club which has got its act together and has a bright future and that future is in the A League.”

“I’ve worked really closely with the Bid Board Committee, we have secured this site here at Albert Park for decades to come. There’s not many clubs in the A League that can point to the kind of security that this club has at this facility. Close to public transport, plenty of parking, close to facilities, this is a venue of the future and the South Melbourne Football Club is at the heart of this community right here and it’s the key tenant of this facility and it can only get better once that club is an A League.”

Foley joins former Federal Liberal Sports Minister Andrew Thompson, who together with Papastergiadis, Gabrielle Guiliano and Louisa Chen, form the South Melbourne FC A-League Advisory Panel.

Papastergiadis says, “SMFC have put together a bid team unrivaled in Australian Football in terms of expertise and bi partisan support. The addition of a Senior Victorian Government Minister to the A League Bid Team cements SMFC as the team with the talent necessary to win the next A League spot.”

“SMFC has for years attracted the best talent on the field. Off the field, with the addition of Martin Foley to its Bid Team, SMFC can boast the best Bid Team. Bi partisan support is evidenced by having the former Federal Liberal Sports Minister (Mr Thompson) and now Martin Foley (State Labor Minister) on its bid team. We all unite for what is best for the game.”

“Attracting the best talent, who can make the best decisions for the game and for the Club reflects the maturity and strength of SMFC. SMFC has a strong brand and almost 60 years of history. It has a strong reputation both on and off the field.”

Over the next few months, the FFA is expected to evaluate applications from up to a dozen various clubs and consortiums nationwide, before finalizing its decision on the two successful bids in October. Added to the intrigue over the last month or so, has been the uncertain future of existing A-League club Wellington Phoenix, which may open up a pathway to A-League involvement for a third successful bid.