“I’m even worried about my job and my family and all the players and all their families”: Graham Arnold. Photo: Brendan Esposito Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has trashed the idea of a third Sydney A-League team in the city’s south, saying they would cannibalise a massive chunk of the Sky Blues’ supporter base and demean the value of local derbies.
Football Federation chief executive David Gallop appears committed to launching a third team in Sydney in the coming years, perhaps as soon as next year, having eyed the expiring licence of the Wellington Phoenix as an opportunity to increase the A-League’s presence in ‘s largest city.
Ironically, while Arnold grew up in the location of the proposed team, he believes it is no place for a professional club given the proximity of Sydney FC.
“I know David means well but the research Sydney FC have got is that 30 per cent of our members come from the Sutherland Shire and St George area and 40 per cent of our junior membership come from there,” he said.
“If you take 30 per cent of 12,000 [adult members] and 40 per cent our junior members, it leaves a big hole for us. If a club does go in there, do they end up taking over the inner west, because it’s close? If they do take over that area, [plus] Mascot, and build something at Barton Park, we’re going to end up left with Bondi.
“I’m a Sutherland Shire boy, I grew up there and played all my junior football and I’ve got friends there. We’ve got four-five young kids: [Alex] Gersbach, [Alex] Naumoff, [Anthony] Bouzanis and [Aaron] Calver who’ve come from that area.
“For me as a coach, and for us as a club, what we would lose would be enormous. I think that really needs to be thought through properly before any hasty decisions have been made.”
Arnold said Sydney FC owner David Traktovenko and his son-in-law Scott Barlow could re-think their investment in the Sky Blues if the FFA gives the green light to a new team so close to Sydney’s heartland.
“My biggest concerns at the moment are if Sydney FC are still going to be around. I think that’s how big a decision this is going to be,’ he said. “
“Sydney FC have been a leader in parting with money for the A-League to bring marquee players in. I’m even worried about my job and my family and all the players and all their families.
“Scott Barlow and David Trakotvenko will make a decision whether to stay or not and if they aren’t happy with what’s going on, and if they’re not happy with a potential Sutherland Shire team, and they walk away, what’s next?”
According to Arnold, Barlow was highly agitated about the FFA’s decision to move on a third Sydney team without consulting the city’s original A-League club.
“I spoke to Scott over the phone yesterday and he was extremely upset on how he’s getting treated. He feels disrespected in all of this and that’s sad to hear,” he said.
“Scott and David bought a licence for 100 per cent of Sydney. That’s already been cut to 50 per cent by the Wanderers coming and if Sutherland come in, that cuts it back to 33 per cent. Within a year, Paul Lederer loses 17 per cent of his licence and Sydney FC is the same.”
While the future of the Wellington Phoenix also seems heavily clouded, Arnold said the New Zealand side had done nothing to warrant their expulsion.
“Wellington Phoenix may not bring the so-called “metrics” to the game but there is a good market there,” he said.
“They’ve got a great coach in Ernie Merrick who plays really good football and they’ve been easy on the eye for the last couple of years. Plus you’ve got to worry about all those players. Where do they go? It’s worrying times.”