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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 08 June 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 8 JUNE 2019 27 SPORT ‘South Melbourne welcomes a second category,’ says Papastergiadis A second division would allow clubs to invest and grow, marking it a “turning point” for football in Australia ALEX ANYFANTIS Recently the rumour mill has been running wild in regards to a second division to the Australian football league, better known as the A-League, following in the footsteps of most major competitions around the world. Supporters of the idea claim it would provide more opportunities to people that are involved with the sport to gain exposure. Up until a few weeks ago, it appeared that the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) was intent on keeping the ALeague as a closed investor's group, however that all looks like it's about to change. A recent meeting between all major participants of football in Australia (FFA, State Federations, Association of Australian Football Clubs, Women's Football, Player's Football Association, etc.) is rumoured to have finally led to a common decision for the creation of this second division (tentatively titled The Championship), with an official announcement to follow in the coming days. Others have taken this one step further, claiming that certain clubs have already been approached to investigate their willingness to participate in this 14-team competition. Among those clubs, of course, was South Melbourne, who already made an (unsuccessful) attempt to enter the A-League through the expansion process, with Western United and Macarthur FC (formerly known as Macarthur South West Sydney) being chosen instead. Neos Kosmos spoke with the leader of South Melbourne's A-League campaign, Bill Papastergiadis to assess how much truth there is in these rumours. Not only did he confirm them, he pointed out the club's full support towards the effort. "From South Melbourne's perspective, the A-League took out of the game the very essence of football, which is competition," Mr Papastergiadis said. "During our bid, we made it very clear that even if we were appointed to the A-League, we would welcome a 'B-League', because we regarded it to be an essential part of the game, of the history of the game in this country and we wanted South Melbourne to pit itself against every other club, no matter what division they were in." He also congratulated the two people said to be in charge of the Second Division Working Group, AAFC Chairman Rabieh Krayem A-League clubs. Mr Papastergiadis states that this isn't the case, pointing towards the assurances both he and South Melbourne have received from the AAFC. "According to the discussions If rumours are to be believed, South Melbourne could soon be back in the Australian big leagues. PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES and FFA Board Member Remo Nogarotto and went on to add that this will be a "huge win" for football, as it will finally "burst the bubble" of small clubs that had been created and provide access to first-tier football. But access to the A-League through this new competition has yet to be assured. In fact, if recent remarks made by FFA Chairman Chris Nikou and A-League boss Greg O'Rourke are to be taken into consideration, promotion and relegation from a second division would be "unrealistic" at least for another 15 years, due to the contracts they have signed with the heads of the I've had, it has been made clear that promotion directly from it to the A-League, within a year or so, is an essential component to this second division. From our perspective, it would be very difficult to get a championship going without the opportunity of promotion at least within the first couple of years." In closing, the South Melbourne chairman stressed that they are keenly observing the ongoing situation with the Western United stadium and should things not progress as scheduled, they could intervene. "We'll be following very closely the western 'team' to make sure that it adheres to its plans for a stadium within the period that was announced by the FFA when it was endorsed. Because that underpinned its promotion over South Melbourne's. And we want to make sure that both parties live up to that promise because otherwise we will be asking for a reassessment of the bidding process. As far as we're concerned, we were the outstanding bid." South and Cannons to face difficult Cup Quarter Finals opponents GEORGE STOGIANNOU NPL clubs Oakleigh Cannons and South Melbourne are the two remaining Victorian Greek teams in the Dockerty Cup competition. Both are just one win away from qualifying for both the Dockerty Cup semi-finals and the national stage of the FFA Cup (Rd of 32), a major objective of many NPL clubs. However both the Cannons and South face formidable obstacles after Monday's quarter-final draw pitted them against top six NPL clubs Hume City and Melbourne Knights respectively. They'll have to overcome these difficult opponents away from home at ABD sta- dium and Knights stadium. Oakleigh's opponent, Hume City has already had an impressive cup run this season eliminating NPL powerhouses Heidelberg United and Bentleigh Greens in their last two rounds. Hume City and Oakleigh Cannons have history in the FFA Cup with Hume City famously qualifying for the FFA Cup semi-finals in 2015 with a 3-2 win over Oakleigh Cannons in the quarter finals at ABD stadium. Current South Melbourne player Marcus Schroen scored a late winner for Hume that day. But the Cannons and Hume have even more recent history with the two teams meeting last Sunday at Jack Edwards stadium in a 1-1 draw. Cannons coach Chris Taylor was impressed by Hume City's performance, prompting him to comment on the Cannons' Facebook page. "Hume are probably the best side we've played this year," Taylor wrote. Commenting on the prospect of facing Hume in the Dockerty Cup quarter finals, Taylor said "there are no easy games". "If we play as well as we can we're in with a shot. The hard thing will be balancing three games in a week … it's not the physical side but the mental side which is important." South Melbourne’s Gerry Sylaidos in action against Melbourne Knights earlier this season. PHOTO: SMFC MEDIA The other quarter final features one of the great rivalries of Victorian football, the Melbourne Knights hosting South Melbourne. The Knights famously eliminated NPL League leader Avondale in the last round of the cup in a thrilling match which went to extra time, proving that on their day they can match it with the best. South fans on the other hand will be hoping that it's a case of history repeating itself when they travel to Knights Stadium. Their last visit in Round 8 resulted in an unexpected victory for the then struggling Lakesiders, who went into that game with newly appointed senior coach Esteban Quintas at the helm for his first game in charge. South won that game 1-0 thanks to a Brad Norton goal.
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