Saturday, May 06, 2006

WSG wants to tap Asian intimacies for Perth Glory

Singapore-based World Sport Group, the marketing partners of the Asian Football Confederation, has confirmed its interest in acquring Perth Glory, the exclusive Western Australian franchise in the one-year-old Australian professional A-League. WSG president, Seamus O'Brien (pictured left at an Asian PGA Tour), emphasised his company had made a "stand-alone" submission to Football Federation Australia but did not rule out bringing on board other investors. According to Michael Cockerill in the Sydney Morning Herald, "the FFA are hoping to finalise the sale of Perth Glory by the end of the month, with WSG the clear front-runners."

If WSG succeeds, it will be the company's first investment in a football club and O'Brien puts that down to the new sense of optimism sweeping the Australian game, and particularly the role of the FFA. "What has been achieved in football in Australia over the last 18 months is nothing short of remarkable," he said. "I've seen a lot of development, and a lot of failure, in Asian football over the last two decades, but what is happening in Australia at the moment is very exciting. The success of the FFA, and the A-League, is ultimately in the interests of Asian football, and that obviously interests us. If we lead, and others follow, then that's great.

"Getting Asian money into Australian clubs would be a big asset. We're happy to be an advance party, and we're taking a long-term view about this. The structure of the A-League, and the faith we have in the management of the FFA, is what makes this a sound proposition. But in terms of other Asian investors, we would need to make this work, because good money is not going to follow bad," he told Cockerill.

O'Brien remains hopeful Perth will represent a sound investment. "First of all you have to run a sound business, but this is sport, and you go into sport to win," he said. "This whole idea is based around success in the A-League, success in the Asian Champions League, and ultimately success in the Club World Championships. If we do this, we'll do it to be winners, and we don't mind investing in that."

Part of the WSG strategy will be to tap into its "intimate knowledge" of the Asian game. "I'd say we'd probably looking at bringing in some Asian talent," O'Brien said. "If Asian players can succeed in the major leagues in Europe, there's no reason why they wouldn't do well in the A-League."

See also: AFC's WSG "interested" in buying Perth Glory (22 Apr)

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