Sydney reveal centre of excellence plans
“We have identified a number of potential sites”: Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow.Sydney FC has hit back at fans who say it lacks a long-term strategy by revealing plans to build a centre of excellence, providing a path from the grassroots through to the A-League.
Following a public backlash and a fan revolt two weeks ago, chairman Scott Barlow issued an open letter to the club’s members on Thursday night outlining its long-term goals, headlined by a state-of-the-art training centre for youth development from the under 12s upwards.
The board of directors held a fan forum on Tuesday night to discuss the direction of the club and will state their desire to follow the lead of the likes of Central Coast Mariners and AFL club GWS Giants in building an elite training centre, which could be established as early as 2016. Sydney is weighing up several different locations to build the centre of excellence and Barlow confirmed it is at the stage of negotiating with councils.
”We also have plans to invest in the coming years in the creation of a football centre of excellence to house our elite junior teams and our community programs,” he said in the letter.
”All our junior teams will operate under the direction of an academy director, who will ensure consistency in playing style and coaching methods across all age groups and in time, all the way to our A-League team. Over the last six months we have identified a number of potential sites for this facility and our discussions with local councils are ongoing.”
The letter provides a strong insight into the club’s long-term goals but does not address any of the concerns relating to the performance of the Sky Blues over the past two seasons. It falls short on clarifying their short-term future, strategy and the status of the two most influential members of the football department.
The names ”Frank Farina” and ”Alessandro Del Piero” do not appear anywhere on the letter as Barlow did not discuss the club’s plans to retain its coach or marquee beyond this season. There is a lack of indication of the board’s strategy for the remainder of the season, beyond continuous support for the coach, which may be of frustration to some of its more vocal fans. The depth of its long-term ambitions may be enough to appease fans who were critical of Sydney FC’s lack of direction. The club also outlined its plan to field a junior club in the top state tiers.
Sydney FC hopes to play in the youth ranks of the NSW Premier League by registering teams from the under 12s to the under 20s, which will also form part of its National Youth League team.
The club hopes to be included in the 2016 season and will join Central Coast in the competition, while Newcastle play in the Northern NSW Premier League. ”We want Sydney FC to be a powerhouse at a junior level with elite youth teams down to under 12s competing in the NSW Premier League competition,” Barlow said. ”Our goal is to create Australia’s leading development pathway for talented young footballers from the grassroots … In time, this will mean we will be developing even more home-grown stars such as Terry Antonis, Rhyan Grant and Peter Triantis.”
Barlow told fans that the club is in a more secure financial position after recording a loss of about $7 million in 2012. ”It would have been very easy to cut costs to close the gap – but we didn’t – we did the opposite, we chose to invest,” Barlow said.
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