EXCLUSIVE: Grella throws his support behind Dandenong-Casey expansion bid

Former "Golden Generation" Socceroo Vince Grella has agreed to lend his support to the Dandenong-Casey bid for inclusion in an expanded A-League.

Vince Grella

Vince Grella, centre, in action for the Socceroos Source: Getty Images

Grella, who was born and bred in the bid area, south-east of the Melbourne CBD, met with one of the prime movers behind the push, Greater Dandenong Mayor Jim Memeti, on Thursday.

"Vince is a Keysborough boy who wants to be a part of what we're doing," Memeti told The World Game.

"He's more than happy to help in any way. He came and saw me at the council. He has still got family in the district and he said he would love to see the FFA put a team in the south-east..


"Vince wants to give back in any way he can to the region. He said to me 'this is my backyard, I'm passionate about the idea, I want to help'."

Grella, who spent the best years of his football career playing in the Serie A, still lives in Italy, but he travels to Australia four times a year in his post-playing occupation as a player agent with Base Soccer.

He manages about a dozen A-League players and has been out here to meet with clubs and attend games last weekend and this weekend before flying home on Monday.

Grella said that if he could use his profile and expertise to help the bid succeed he would be delighted.

"Jim and I had a mutual friend who put us in contact and teed up a meeting," Grella told The World Game.

"We sat down for a cup of coffee and talked about it. It was reasonably low-level. I didn't get a lot of information - I didn't ask for a lot of information, they're still putting it all together - but I wanted to make myself available to help. I endorse what they're doing.

"I live on the other side of the world, so I can't do a fulltime lobbying role, but whenever I'm able to I'll be happy to try to use my influence and standing in the game to help.

"The passion and drive that Jim and the other bid officials have got for the area is fantastic. When you see that in person, how could you not want to be involved? It makes you say 'let's go for it'.

"I'd be happy to lend my name to a bid representing the area in which I grew up and to try to provide assistance and support and advice wherever I can.

"My desire to see the A-League expand and improve is enormous and if I can use my name to help that, fantastic."
Memeti said the bid, which is controlled by three councils covering the area, had attracted solid promises of financial support and had recently employed a consultant to work on its behalf.

Now the bid is waiting for the FFA to finalise the criteria for expansion so that Dandenong-Casey and other bids have their guidelines.

The original hope was that the criteria would be out before the end of February, but there is no sign of it at this stage. It is anticipated that two teams will be added to the A-League in time for the 2018-19 season.

"I've got business people who are more than happy to contribute whatever money is needed," Memeti said. "I'm not talking one, or two, or three - I've been inundated.

"The councils have agreed the training facilities should be in Casey and the stadium should be built at Dandenong.

"It's been a very positive reaction from the south-east to the idea of having a team in the A-League. Business people have contacted us and want to be involved and the population of over one million people in the catchment area are hungry for something like this to happen."

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Published 24 February 2017 at 6:05pm
By Greg Prichard