Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop believes the Western Sydney Wanderers are on “greater growth trajectory than any other sporting club in the country” – which means the club’s new owners will need to follow some very strict rules.
The Wanderers have only been in existence for a year but their barnstorming popularity in the city’s west has made the FFA increasingly wary about protecting the basics of the juggernaut brand.
The FFA’s search for a new owner is now officially under way, with the club appointing a leading financial services company to source prospective buyers for the club – which has been widely valued at $15 million, even if the game’s governing body is hoping for more.
“We’ve engaged investment bank UBS [to source investors] but clearly we’ve got some non-negotiables around the colours, the logo, the name, the venue and the general community engagement model that has worked so well,” Gallop said. “There are important non-negotiates around the culture that’s already been created at this club. Beyond that, we’re looking to see who the market throws up as a potential purchaser.”
Despite a refusal to negotiate on the club’s identity – which would be unlikely to change in any case – Gallop said the Wanderers represented exceptional value for money considering their potential to expand.
“There’s no doubt that this club is on a greater growth trajectory than any other sporting club in the country. With the population of western Sydney increasing by several thousand per month, this is the train to get on board if you’re looking at sporting clubs,” he said. “It’s difficult to put a price on it but what you’re buying into is the trajectory of this club and the trajectory of football.
“The participation in the Asian Champions League will be an eye-opener to what the future might hold for this club and this league as we forge stronger and stronger links with the fastest growing economic region in the world.”
In order to maintain and increase the club’s momentum, some felt the FFA should have held ownership for a while longer – not least to increase the sale price – but Gallop says it should never be the administrative body’s ambition.
“Importantly, FFA doesn’t want to own football clubs, so the sooner we remove ourselves from that potential conflict situation, the better,” he said. “We’d also look to maximise the financial benefits in a way that is then invested prudently across the grass roots and the elite level of the game.”
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