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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 10 December 2016
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 10 DECEMBER 2016 SPORT DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 South Melbourne meets FFA management to present its A-League case South Melbourne A-League advisory board: (L-R) Louisa Chen (club major sponsor), Andrew Thompson (FMR federal sports minister), Gabrielle Guiliano (head of women), Bill Papastergiadis (advisory board chairman). PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES. GEORGE STOGIANNOU Just two weeks after announcing its intention to apply for an ALeague licencse in an expanded ALeague competition, Victorian NPL club South Melbourne FC met last week with FFA senior management in Melbourne to present its case for joining the expanded competition. The South Melbourne bid team met with FFA CEO David Gallop, ALeague CEO Greg O'Rourke and the FFA head of strategy Mark Falvo for over an hour, during which the team presented an 80-page document detailing all facets of the club, historically, currently and prospectively. This was accompanied by a fiveminute video also focusing on the history, current achievements and development programs as well as facilities and infrastructure. The bid team also submitted a 92-page media response kit detailing the mainstream and social media interest generated in the two weeks since South announced its intention to bid. In its presentation, South's bid team emphasised to FFA management that what the Lakeside club would bring to the A-League is a one-team perspective. That is, a complete, ready to go package including men, women and junior programs, facilities, infrastructure, secure financial basis due to a favourable stadium lease deal, and a ready-made supporter base. It also emphasised the club's historical significance. The historical significance aspect is an interesting one, because South Melbourne, founded in 1959, and long regarded by the governing body as associated with old soccer, believes, according to bid chairman Bill Papastergiadis, that with the intense work South has put in on and off the field over the last five years, the FFA's attitude may be changing towards it. "The important thing that came out of this meeting was the fact that within two weeks of us announcing our bid, we had a meeting with the head of the FFA and the A-League," Papastergiadis says. "And that's important because in the previous 10 years, the club hasn't been able to achieve that. "The second point, in the previous 10 years they haven't responded to our written correspondence at all. I think it reveals that they sense a change within the club. They sense it's a club moving forward with good stability. And I said to them, 'we're like a duck. We may seem calm on the surface but we're paddling furiously'. And for the last five years we've been paddling in a way to make sure that when we raise our hand for a bid, it was a bid of substance. That we had achievements on and off the field." According to Papastergiadis, the new stadium deal and social club were among the key achievements off the park that put the club in the position to make a sustainable bid. Papastergiais said that although "the FFA made it very clear that these are preliminary discussions", the meeting was fruitful as a positive step to building working relationships with the governing body. "They listened intently and understood what we were saying. It was a good conversation. They're people that we believe we can work co-operatively and efficiently with. So we have respect for them and the work they've done. We're looking forward to participating further with this process." Papastergiadis has also suggested a possible future role in South's bid for one of its favourite sons, Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou, a well-respected figure within the Australian football community, who transcends the divide between new and old soccer in Australia. "He's someone who we'll reach out to, to work with us. I mean, he has a national role and national profile, a deep history within the club because it shaped and formed him as a coach and as a footballer. So we will be reaching out to him, absolutely," said Papastergiadis. In the meantime, since South Melbourne's meeting with FFA management, A-League CEO Greg O'Rourke has confirmed that A-League expansion to a 12-team competition will take place in time for the 2018-19 season, having requested that the broadcasters currently bidding for the new broadcasting rights submit a bid for an expanded competition in the second year of the new deal, which will be 2018-19 season. O'Rourke also said the FFA will release the expansion framework, including bid criteria, in February. "We expect that framework will be ready to put to the board in February, and if approved it will form the guidelines to add an A-League team to an expanded competition with a view to this coming in the second year of the deal of broadcast, 2018-19. "Any meetings prior to the frame- work being finalised and the board approving it are more about being respectful and wanting to listen to interested parties who want to ask questions. It's not about having detailed discussions,'' he told the Herald Sun. "The FFA doesn't want potential aspirants to spend time and money putting together a proposal and talking to government in a formal way until they have a clarity of what is required." PAOK, Olympiakos and Apoel progress to knockout stage of Europa League PAOK, Olympiakos and Apoel Nicosia have all made it out of the group stage into the last 32 knockout stage of the Europa League, following the last round of group matches played on Friday morning. PAOK defeated Czech side Slovan Liberec 2-0 at home to finish second in Group J. Early pressure paid off for the home team, with a 29thminute goal to Rodrigues following some excellent assist work by Leo Matos down the right flank. Pelkas doubled PAOK's lead in the 67th minute to secure the valuable three points and second place in the group ahead of Azerbaijani side Qarabag, which lost 1-2 at home to group winner Fiorentina. In Nicosia, Apoel finished top of Group B by completing a de- served double over Olympiakos with a 2-0 home win thanks to a first half own goal by Olympiakos' da Costa and an 83rd-minute goal from de Camargo. The win means Olympiakos finishes second in the group, and will be unseeded going into the knockout stage of the competition where, like PAOK, it will be drawn against a seeded club, which will be either a group winner or one of the four best third-placed teams from the Champions League.
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