Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Southern Cross in Neos Kosmos English Weekly

So there I was talking about the Large Hadron Collider last week when there was some real news out there. Or maybe not. Depends on your point of view I guess. Note the out of date reference to the $50 million upgrade to Lakeside, which, as we learned last week, has just dropped by at least $11-12 million after the latter amount was revealed to be heading to the revamp of Olympic Park instead. Also note the lack of comittal to the naming of McNamee as anything other than someone that helps around the place at the moment, without trying to say as much. And there's a bit about Murray's attempt to preserve his legacy. Sorry if it all sounds a bit negative, you mught not see it that way.

Southern Cross eyes the future

James Belias

SOUTHERN Cross FC have unique ambitions for the rich future of Australian football. The consortium aims to become the second Melbourne team in the A-League, and has secured the involvement, support and backing of two of the biggest names in Australian sport. The consortium announced a major coup with the inclusion of SBS' Les Murray and prominent sports administrator Paul McNamee as they presented their broad-based bid to the Football Federation Australia (FFA).

Spokesperson Jim Mellas told NKEE in an exclusive interview that the bid for Southern Cross FC had been presented to the FFA and that it had been well received. "The Southern Cross consortium presented its bid on Monday 25 August 2008. We explained to FFA our comprehensive strategic plan to establish a second football franchise in Melbourne that is inclusive, broad based and aimed at the whole of Victoria. The team confirmed to FFA that it met all financial, infrastructure and football operations requirements," Mellas said.

"It also set out its detailed plan to launch the team into the Melbourne market including an outline of its proposed brand. In addition, the financial backers were identified and a detailed business plan for the first 5 years in the A-League, as well as the lead up before launching, was presented," he added.

Mellas indicated that the FFA was impressed by the Southern Cross bid. "The FFA received the bid very well, seeing it as commercially viable and compelling. All four of us presenting the bid felt confident afterwards about the prospects of the bid," he said.

The involvement of Paul McNamee undoubtedly brings significant organisational clout to the team. McNamee, a former Australia tennis player who successfully won Davis Cups for his country along with numerous singles and doubles titles was CEO of the Australian Open for a number of years. Additionally, McNamee has served as Tournament Director of the Australian Gold Open and recently served a short period as CEO of the Melbourne Football Club. Mellas indicated that McNamee would be a valuable addition to the Southern Cross organisational team. "Paul is one of Australia's most experienced sports administrators," he said. "He has been engaged to advise Southern Cross on commercial matters."

Les Murray is a well respected household name in Australian sports casting and undoubtedly an authority on Australian football. Mellas indicated that Murray played a significant role in the presentation of the bid to the FFA. "Les has been engaged to advise on football matters and act as an ambassador for Southern Cross," Mellas said.

Speaking to NKEE, Les Murray described the Southern Cross bid a "football-focussed" and not driven solely by results on the football pitch. "I like the unique vision, which is very football-focussed and all about a club which wants to brand itself through the quality of its football," said Murray.

"In the new catchphrase, 'old soccer, new football', there is yet to be any attention paid to the significance of the 'new football' half of that dogma. This (Southern Cross FC) is a club that will want to bring more to its market, and its supporters, than just results by any means. It wants to provide some substance, real entertainment, and not rely entirely on its win-loss record for its survival."

The inclusion of Murray is a nod to the rich tradition of football in Australia, something which the FFA have been seemingly intent to forget. Traditional fans of the sport will also note with interest the involvement of South Melbourne FC with the Southern Cross bid. Details are fragmented and sketchy at this early stage, but it is understood that Southern Cross would largely benefit from the existing infrastructure of South Melbourne, including the soon-to-be revamped Bob Jane Stadium which will be receiving a State Government sponsored $50 million upgrade.

Mellas confirmed that South Melbourne FC would be distinct from Southern Cross and that the historic Albert Park club would continue in the Victorian Premier League/Foxtel Cup.

"South Melbourne will continue to be based and play at the redeveloped Bob Jane Stadium. South Melbourne is a commercial partner in the Southern Cross bid. It will have a stake in the Southern Cross franchise and enter commercial arrangements with Southern Cross to use its infrastructure and facilities.The benefits to South Melbourne are both financial and non-financial".

As football fans in Melbourne prepare for the announcement of a long-awaited addition to the football landscape of Victoria, the wait could be shorter than expected, with a decision expected by the end of the year.

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