27/02/2007 - 22:00

Sage and company to kick-start Glory

27/02/2007 - 22:00

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Fans of A-League soccer team Perth Glory had cause to celebrate last week when the team announced its long-awaited takeover by a trio of prominent Perth businessmen.

Sage and company to kick-start Glory

Fans of A-League soccer team Perth Glory had cause to celebrate last week when the team announced its long-awaited takeover by a trio of prominent Perth businessmen.

Cape Lambert Iron Ore Ltd and International Goldfields Ltd chairman Tony Sage, Australian Finance Group chairman and managing director, Brett McKeon, and Karma Resorts owner John Spence are reported to have each paid a third of $3.5 million to the Football Federation of Australia for control of the club.

The Glory has been managed by the FFA since May 2006, after long-time owner Nick Tana bowed out.

The injection of capital is seen as a lifeline to the flagging team, following its worst season in its 10-year history in the national league, where it finished one point away from claiming the wooden spoon. 

Mr Sage told WA Business News that improving the club’s on-field performance was the owners’ main priority, with the club intending to win the next premiership.

“The FFA spent just $1.6 million out of a maximum $1.8 million salary cap last season, which put head coach Ron Smith and the team under pressure. We’ve committed to spending the full $1.8 million this year, and will be using between $300,000 and $400,000 to attract two new guest players,” he said.

Wasting no time, seven new player contracts have already been sent out and Mr Sage revealed half the squad would likely be turned over in the process of re-structuring the team.

The new owners have also interviewed four candidates for the position of Glory chief executive, a role to be vacated by current chief Michelle Phillips who will be returning to Sydney after the changeover period.

On securing a short-term venue for the club, Mr Sage said discussions between the Glory and owners of Members Equity Stadium had been productive this week, with the team presenting a case for a two to three-year contract, and an extension of a similar period.

“They get 15,000 people there and sell 100,000 litres of beer, but we get nothing of that. They make a fortune, so we’ve told them we want to share of the action, I hope they see our point of view,” Mr Sage said.

“Being hard business nuts we’d go for another ground where we would make more money, but the fans love the rectangular ground and the view at Members Equity, and we must consider this.”

Mr Sage was realistic about the Glory’s chances of posting a profit in the coming seasons, saying it was virtually impossible coming off a deficit and trying to entirely rebuild the club.

“We don’t expect to make any money from the team until at least the end of 2009 and expect to lose between $3.5 million and $4 million over the two seasons in the interim,” he said. “It’s not pocket change for us, but we’re committed to the team and will turn it around.”

The businessmen are already working their corporate contacts, and expect to sell all of the corporate boxes prior to the 2007-08 season opening match in August.

Mr McKeon is believed to have sold three high-end boxes to his banking associates in the last week alone, while Mr Sage is set to sell his fourth to a mining associate.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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