Sydney FC are determined to keep hold of their southern fan base.
Sydney FC are determined to keep hold of their southern fan base.

Sydney FC ready for turf fight on southern flank

SYDNEY FC's chief executive has warned that the club has no intention of ceding territory to A-League expansion, despite the imminent dislocation from their home ground for three years.

After 2000 fans attended a Sky Blues members day at Jubilee Oval in Kogarah on Saturday, Danny Townsend said the club intended to build on "13 years of investing time and energy" to reinforce its supporter base in the south of the city.

The club's focus in the short term is Saturday night's A-League semi-final but Townsend said Sydney is making detailed plans to avoid losing support while Allianz Stadium is knocked down and rebuilt.

The Sky Blues will play several games each season at Jubilee Oval during their hiatus away from Allianz, and Townsend said the Morris Iemma-led Southern Expansion bid's attempts to lay claim to the area ignored swathes of Sydney's existing membership base.

Alex Brosque at a fan signing session at Kogarah.
Alex Brosque at a fan signing session at Kogarah.
Southern Expansion wants to represent the St George, Sutherland and South Coast areas, but Townsend noted that it is hardly virgin territory.

"Our plans to play at Kogarah are about taking the game to our heartland," he said.

"The rebuild presents logistical challenges, but one of the benefits is giving us the freedom to take games to our fanbase.

"We have a big footprint in that part of Sydney and we're working hard at widening it across the St George, Sutherland and South Coast areas, and promoting the A-League in that part of town.

"Facts are facts. When people claim that the St George region doesn't identify with Sydney, it's simply not factual. In fact I spoke to some of our members on Saturday and they were offended by the idea that after 13 years of loyal support, they would prefer a new club.

Shane Smeltz with Sydney FC fans. Picture: Mark Evans
Shane Smeltz with Sydney FC fans. Picture: Mark Evans

"Expanding the A-League there wouldn't grow the competition, it would cannibalise it."

Townsend said that recent agreements signed with the three associations were already bearing fruit.

"We'll continue to try to drive a connection with the community, and we've focused on deepening our ties with the associations through joint venture businesses like holiday clinics, school projects, SAP programs and so on.

"We're the first to admit we could have done it better previously, but it's hard work and you only benefit when you really put in that effort."

Townsend also confirmed that Sydney intend to unveil their new manager in early May. A shortlist of six candidates has been drawn up from Australia and overseas to replace Graham Arnold once he takes over the Socceroos.

"We're still on track for that original timetable, well aware it's the most sensitive appointment the club can make," he said.

"We've had four years of success under Graham, and we thought long and hard about the process of replacing him.

"This is an appointment we have to get right, but were really happy with the number and quality of applicants."


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