West Ham skipper Neill details A-League plans
West Ham United and Australia captain Lucas Neill has detailed plans for an A-League West Sydney franchise to be launched in 2010. Neill is fronting a consortium bidding for a licence and said: "For quite some time there's been talk of expanding the A-League, so I did a bit of homework myself and then got a company (Inspire Sports Group, whose management arm represents Neill) to invest some time and money into working out what suited.
"Meanwhile the FFA did their own report that suggested western Sydney would be one of the top areas for expansion, so then we did some research to really nail it in terms of figures -- population, commerce and so on. Everything about it was appealing, and as a Sydney boy I really wanted to do it.
"We've signed an agreement with Parramatta Stadium committing to playing games there, and we consider that to be an important step. We've talked to Blacktown council to seek their help (in setting up an amateur side) and we've also signed an agreement with Football NSW to allow us use of their facilities.
"We've tried to build up relationships and dig deep into the area - obviously we're building from scratch so my plan has been to start at the top tier and work down to the grassroots.
"So at the top level we need a stadium and a football club, we need to win the bid then pick a board of directors who are successful in both business and sport. Then we need to build the team and the coaching staff - I certainly want to come back and play, that's the dream."
Neill said he had no plans to be involved in the off-field running of the club after its inception.
"I've got no commercial or administrative interest, I'd be coming back as a player and maybe later as a coach," he told the Telegraph.
"I don't know if there's another western Sydney bid out there, but all I can do is keep ticking the boxes the FFA want. The project managers are confident we have done it all right, and we have a number of investors who have approached us and we are working through that process to determine the best people to work with. We have to have them signed up by January, of course, and all is going really well."
As for recruiting players and coaches, Neill said they had a list of targets but it would be premature to approach them before the FFA decides where to award the franchise. A marquee player was a key element.
"That gets the bums on seats - people want to see young Australian talent but they also want to see a person with a household name."