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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 19 November 2016
SPORT 30 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM South to launch A-League bid GEORGE STOGIANNOU Can you imagine the club, which in 2010 was conferred the title of Oceania Team of the 20th Century, playing in the Asian Champions League? As far-fetched as that may seem now, its passionate supporters are hoping it may become a real possibility. South Melbourne is a sleeping giant of Australian football, according to club director Bill Papastergiadis. As befits a sleeping giant, South is dreaming big, announcing earlier this week it wants to become one of the next two A-League teams the FFA has indicated it plans to introduce, into an expanded A-League within the next couple of years. To achieve its dream, South will need to convince the FFA that the A-League needs South Melbourne more than it needs any of the numerous other bidders expected from all over the country, including Geelong, Tasmania, Adelaide, WA, South Sydney and Brisbane. Papastergiadis, who chairs South's A-League advisory board, told Neos Kosmos that South Melbourne is in a great position, both on and off the park, to make a persuasive bid. "Essential to this was securing a licence and lease deal for the (Lakeside) stadium," he says. "Until that deal was secured, which was only earlier this year, any prospect of a viable deal was not possible. So that achievement earlier in the year, along with on-field success (with senior South Melbourne’s A-League advisory board chairman Bill Papastergiadis flanked by bid team members Gabrielle Giuliano (R) and Luisa Chen. PHOTO: TIM CARRAFA. mens, womens and junior development programs) has put us in the fortunate position of being able to properly position ourselves to bid for an A-League Licence." As Papastergiadis elaborates, the stadium deal which secures the club economically underpins and differentiates South's bid from other existing A-League clubs and other potential bidders. "No other club in Victoria or Australia has an equivalent stadium deal. It's not only a 40-year deal, it's moreso the financial components of that deal. The fact is that this deal enables us to run a club at a stadium with a requirement for very limited attendance. Unlike at AAMI stadium, where you need to have something like 14,000 people to attend a game to break even, we don't have that same financial constraint. We start breaking even at 1,500 people. "And more importantly, which no other A-League club has, we'll have a social club which will be completed in two-and-a-half months’ time, within our facility. All of these things will underpin the economic viability of the proposal by this club." Papastergiadis has no doubt that Melbourne is ready to accommodate a third A-League club, and he believes that the FFA favours expansion into the bigger cities over expansion into regional centres. "Absolutely, that's not my view. That's the view of FFA. What Gallop has said is that they are not so confident about how regional clubs have performed, and there's plenty of carcasses of A-League clubs that have failed in regional cities. What they (FFA) have said is that we need to fish, and fish hard. They've admitted that the fish are in Melbourne and Sydney. There are the biggest populations and biggest supporter bases and junior programs. We fit in with their own model about where the growth should be." Furthermore, Papastergiadis is adamant South would not cannibalise other clubs' supporters. "We will bring our own supporters to the game, such that the Melbourne City-Melbourne Victory teams will in fact be enhanced because they will have competitive derbies which generate significant interest." Since South's intention to bid for an A-League License became public earlier this week, there have been the usual objections raised in some quarters about the club's strong ethnic heritage and how this would play out in an A-League. Papastergiadis meets this objection head on, countering with, "I believe I'm as Australian as anyone else in this country. I was born in this country". Can Roar halt the Sky Blues Express? GEORGE STOGIANNOU With a Friday night double header this round, and the postponement of Phoenix’s match against Victory due to stadium damage caused by the earthquake, just two matches remain to complete round 7 of the A-League, commencing this evening with Sydney FC taking on third-placed Brisbane in Brisbane in what will arguably be the match of the round. The action continues on Sunday with the F3 derby. Brisbane Roar FC v Sydney FC Saturday 19 Nov, 7.50 pm Suncorp Stadium Sydney’s scintillating start to the season of six straight wins brings it within reach of the A-League record of seven straight wins to start the season set by Melbourne Victory in 2006-7. Also impressive is Syd- ney’s record-breaking 17 goals in the six opening matches, with its free scoring ways continuing last week in the 4-1 win over Perth Glory. The side also possesses numerous goal-scoring threats including Brosque, Bobo, Holosko and also midfield playmaker Milos Ninkovic, who was instrumental in the big win over Glory. Sydney faces perhaps its biggest test of the season when it plays third-placed Brisbane Roar this evening at Suncorp, which has not been a happy hunting ground for Sydney, winning just three of its 17 matches there against the Roar. It will face the secondbest defence in the league, marshalled by Luke Devere and Jade North, and will also have to deal with the pace of Jamie Maclaren who returns from Socceroo duty, Petratos and Oar in defence, as well as the wily Holman in midfield, who scored his first A-League goal in the draw away to Adelaide United last round. “We’re controlling our own destiny, we’re not hoping the other teams are making mistakes and capitalising on them," said Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold. “We’re six rounds in, we’re looking to go up to play against Brisbane. “It’s only the start," he continued. "Records and that don’t really interest me. It’s about getting better with every performance. “Brisbane has a history of being a very good club, a very good team. John and Ross Aloisi are doing a very good job up there, they’ve got depth and quality, and for us it’s just another challenge. "We’re going up there expecting to win the game.” Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners Sunday 20 Nov, 5.00 pm McDonald Jones Stadium After a promising start, the Jets have been brought down to earth in recent weeks, losing three in a row. Coach Mark Jones lamented their failure to take their chances against Melbourne City last week, with Morten Nordstrand’s glaring miss proving costly. Injuries continue to deplete the Jets’ defensive stocks, after central defender Nigel Boogaard limped out of the game last week. He is expected to miss up to six weeks with a leg injury. Jones may be forced to use defensive midfielders Ben Kantarovski or Johnny Koutroumbis in a central defensive role. The Mariners also came unstuck last week against a depleted Wellington Phoenix, continuing a trend of not having scored a firsthalf goal all season. Coach Paul Okon will be hoping one of his attackers may be able to exploit the Jets’ defensive vulnerability on Sunday. The Mariners will be without experienced defender Jacques Faty, who is expected to be out for at least a week with an injury. "The notion of ethnicity is irrelevant to the appropriateness of any bid. The bid should be considered on its merits. This concern about ethnic rivalries, if it was a problem, it would've been manifest in the NPL, and it hasn't been manifest at all in the NPL. So it's a dead issue in my opinion and we've all moved on since then. The club has evolved, as has the FFA." Papastergiadis could also point objectors to the example of Brisbane Roar, originally founded in 1957 by Dutch immigrants as Hollandia-Inala, which then morphed into Brisbane Lions before eventually becoming Brisbane Roar, and which to the present day retains its orange shirts in deference to its Dutch heritage. He has no doubts South Melbourne's inclusion will be beneficial to the A-League. "At the end of the day, the FFA should be interested in our proposal because we will bring a lot of interest to the A-League which is important to their TV deal. And what do I mean by that? The Herald Sun generated 1000 per cent more interest (for their story on South's bid) than their AFL and cricket articles. They got swamped with interest. It's that passion which the ALeague and FFA require. And South Melbourne can bring that, passion for and against us." Papastergiadis says he is confident the advisory panel will meet with the FFA before the end of the year to discuss South Melbourne's bid.
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