With the help of former head of A-League, Archie Fraser, Neos Kosmos analyses South Melbourne’s rival bidders for A-League expansion:
NSW AND ACT
· South-Western Sydney FC
Located near the proposed second Sydney airport, the bid heads as far south as Bowral while also taking in the heartland of former NSL clubs Marconi Stallions, Sydney United, and Western Sydney Wanderers.
Archie’s verdict: No chance. Too close in area to the Wanderers.
· United for Macarthur (Campbelltown)
Backed by the City of Campbelltown where the stadium is based, the bid is also vying for the same catchment area as rival bidder South West Sydney FC.
Archie’s verdict: Businessman Lang Walker appears to be very serious and is heavily invested in the area. If he wants it, he will find a way get it.
· Southern Expansion (Sutherland, St George and Wollongong)
The support of SBS presenter Craig Foster, Liverpool star Craig Johnston, and former NSW premier Morris Iemma gives the three-region bid a high profile.
Archie’s verdict: No chance. An ambitious plan to play across three regions of Wollongong, St George, and Sutherland Shire. Chinese backers might just get a lesson in doing business in NSW football and politics.
· Canberra & Capital Region
Canberra hopes to emulate the Bundesliga model where the fans own a controlling stake in the team and make key decisions such as ticket prices.
Archie’s verdict: We should have a team here just to keep close to the politicians. The stadium is already there, but inclusion is unlikely to happen as that is too strategic for the FFA.
· Wollongong Wolves
Former NSL club Wollongong Wolves have made a call to arms for the community to be part of the ‘Wolfpack’ and ignore Southern Expansion.
Archie’s verdict: They have a football heartland, city, and history in the game. At least they want to play out of the one stadium. Worthy of serious consideration.
· Team 11 (Dandenong)
The bid is backed by the Greater Dandenong, City of Casey, and Cardinia Shire councils, and Gerry Ryan of Jayco Caravans has pledged to financially support the club.
Archie’s verdict: Still needs a stadium to be built, but the region is expanding. Don’t be surprised if they recruit some expert help to shore this up. Have to be in the final mix.
· Western Melbourne (Geelong)
Formerly based in Geelong, they now have Wyndham Council backing the bid, and providing them land in Tarneit – 25km west of Melbourne’s CBD.
Archie’s verdict: Their renderings of the train station, stadium, footpaths and training facilities are magnificent. An ambitious plan with excellent social and paid media. Unfortunately it’s for next time.
· Brisbane City
A former NSL club with plans to play out of Ballymore Stadium, they have secured approval by council for refurbishment. They also have ex-Brisbane Roar star Thomas Broich to coach the NPL and academy teams.
Archie’s verdict: Good NSL history and people. Maybe just too close to the Roar fan base for a genuine bid, and to be able to attract a big fan base long-term. A long shot – maybe next time round.
· Western Pride (Ipswich)
Play in the QLD NPL and their bid plans to redevelop their home ground North Ipswich Reserve. Nineteen Socceroos have come from the area, and the team see themselves as ready-made rivals to Brisbane Roar.
Archie’s verdict: Once the Queensland Government build an NRL stadium around Springfield Lakes, they should then have a team. A token gesture to keep QLD interested, but not this time round.
· South Melbourne
It would send a significant message of hope and meaning to all existing clubs around the country with aspirations of playing at the highest level, that the door is open to everyone who wants to play.
Sydney needs another club, this is the best location to minimise the impact on Sydney FC and Wanderers, and this bid has the funding behind it.