We're not trespassing on Sydney FC territory, claim Southern Expansion

Southern Expansion - Sydney's third A-League team-in-waiting - have shot down assertions they will cannibalise support for Sydney FC, should they be granted a license by Football Federation Australia for 2019-20.

The Sky Blues view St George and Sutherland Shire as their patch, with claims that up to 25 per cent of their supporter base resides in southern Sydney.

However, Morris Iemma - Southern Expansion's bid chairman and former NSW Premier - views the new entity's target region and intended base, also taking in the Illawarra, as anything but a Sydney FC heartland.

Backed by the powerful Chinese conglomerate JiaYuan Group, Iemma said the bid will "easily meet" the May 24 deadline set by the FFA for the expression of interest process.

"In terms of cannibalising Sydney FC's supporter base, nothing could be further from the truth," Iemma said.

"Was the arrival of Western Sydney Wanderers seen as cannibalising their support in a city of five million people?

"Sydney FC mounting that argument is a load of rubbish ... they have all of the eastern suburbs, north shore, inner west, lower north shore and inner north west. There are over two million people just there alone.

"St George and Sutherland Shire is not their patch. I live in St George and grew up there playing football on Saturdays.

"The people of St George don't see themselves as part of Sydney FC at all. There is no relationship there.

"Our community interest in sport is with the each other, Sutherland Shire and the Illawarra. It's not with Sydney FC.

"I'm heavily involved in junior sport in St George and the kids here don't follow Sydney FC."

The former NSW Premier believes Sydney FC and chairman Scott Barlow should embrace, rather than fear, the entry of a third Sydney team, claiming it would produce blockbuster derby crowds and aid in enlivening a stale and stagnating A-League.

"Imagine the attendance at Allianz Stadium when they play us as their home derby. They'll be 40,000 there and 20,000 when we play them at Kogarah," Iemma said.

"They are 40,000 players in the region we represent.

"It's recognised as one of the great nurseries of football in Australia and has produced a conga line of Matildas and Socceroos, and is a great football supporting area.

"The A-League needs to expand to generate new revenues and interest, and boost attendances and TV audiences, and with that the next TV deal."

Southern Expansion, which is a working title only, will share games between Kogarah's Jubilee Oval, Cronulla's Southern Cross Group Stadium and Wollongong's WIN Stadium.

"We want to play in our headland and these venues are a really good fit for us," Iemma said.

"While there is no direct correlation, the attendances in the NRL matches for St George and Cronulla this season - at those venues - have been very good in the context of a code that has suffered a reduction in average attendances.

"We have a population base of 850,000 that will grew to a million.

"We have agreements with council, the three football associations in our region and very string financial backing, plus a person of the calibre of Craig Foster as our head of football.

"We'll build from the ground up, driving memberships and subscriptions. Craig has put in place the pathways for young kids, which will be free of charge.

"We don't see making money from kids as part of the commercial side of the football club.

"We just want them to have access and we're all about removing the financial barriers."

Iemma is also bullish over the recruitment of marquee stars to grab attention and drive attendances.

"Alessandro Del Piero worked well for Sydney FC and if anything, as a code we didn't build on that success," he said.

"We rested on our laurels a bit and absolutely we will be looking at bringing in marquee players.

"Our backers have a relationship with Chinese Super League club Guizhou Hengfeng and see football as core business.

"They want to branch out beyond China and are keen in building their business and sporting profile in Australia."

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
4 min read
Published 10 April 2018 at 12:06pm
By Dave Lewis