Barely days before South Melbourne FC played its final match at Bob Jane Stadium ahead of the $50.3 million refurbishment, the Albert Park club unveiled a bold plan to play in Singapore’s Cup competition.
The idea reportedly has the full support of the Singapore FA, with our own Football Federation Australia (FFA) set to have formally responded to the Singapore FA by Monday 12/4/10.
In a statement South Melbourne said that the Singapore football authorities and South Melbourne FC have completed their discussions and the Singapore FA has indicated its desire to see South line-up in the event.
The club also confirmed talks between the Singapore FA and the CEO of Football Federation Australia, Mr Ben Buckley, with the Singapore FA indicating that it does not believe the FFA will object to the concept.
At a time that the FFA badly needs support in Asia, it is believed the historic move could be signed off within days with South Melbourne representatives having worked closely with the relevant Singapore authorities for some time.
South would compete in the early rounds of the RHB Singapore Cup as soon as next month.
The later rounds will be played in September and November with the ultimate prize being the approximately $80,000 USD winner’s cheque and a coveted spot in the Asian Football Confederation’s Cup competition.
The South Melbourne initiated move could ultimately become a massive coup for FFA, which will need the support of as many Asian Federations as possible as it builds its 2022 World Cup bid.
South Melbourne Chairman Nick Galatas told Australia football website Four FourTwo that the bold plan was about strengthening its ties domestically while providing opportunities internationally. “We believe this is a positive for Australian football as it strengthens our nation’s links within our own confederation the AFC.
“At the same time it gives clubs outside the A-League an opportunity to compete in a new competition – that’s exciting for the players and no doubt will be embraced by our fan-base.
“It will strengthen Australia’s second tier clubs and therefore strengthen our state leagues. What’s more, we don’t yet have an FA Cup style competition or a “B-League” here in Australia.
“So were very excited at the potential of this idea to help boost clubs outside the A-League while flying the Aussie flag in the AFC.”
“We are also encouraged by the positive noises made by the FFA thus far. We look forward to helping grow Australia’s brand in the AFC with their help and guidance,” added Galatas.
South Melbourne is no stranger to international competitions. In 2000, the club competed as Oceania’s representative at the FIFA Club World Championships in Brazil where South faced local favourites Vasco da Gama, Mexico’s Necaxa and Manchester United.
2010 will become known as a landmark year for the four time national champions.
FIFA earlier named South Melbourne the Oceania Team of the Century.
The club has been invited to London in May to accept the award alongside other FIFA confederation team of the century winners such as giants Real Madrid.
Since 1998 the RHB Singapore Cup has featured teams from outside of Singapore, helping the tournament evolve into one of the region’s top knock-out Cup contests.
Teams from Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia have all taken part in previous editions of the competition. South would be the first representative from Australia.