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Thursday, 11 May, 2017 Page 7

Mayors unite for soccer bid By Cam Lucadou-Wells Three south-east councils have forged a formal alliance to lure a national A-League soccer side to the region. With former local Socceroo Vince Grella as the bid’s ambassador, Cardinia, Casey and Greater Dandenong’s mayors signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 4 May. Mr Grella, born and raised in Keysborough and a former junior player at Springvale City, said he was excited to help lure Melbourne’s third A-League side to “my backyard”. “This is about an opportunity to have our own team in the south-east,” Mr Grella said. “It would be a platform for young footballers to dream and have aspirations to play for a club where they were born and grew up. “And for them to go on to bigger and better things.” The bid is based on the size and passion of the greater south-eastern region. Including the cities of Frankston and Kingston, it is home to more than 1 million people. Greater Dandenong hosts the most soccer clubs in the state - 17, including three National Premier League sides. Casey has 15 clubs. Between the two municipalities, there’s more than 5000 registered players. “We believe it’s the right pitch at the right time,” Greater Dandenong Mayor

Jim Memeti said. The councils propose a match-day stadium to be built within walking distance of Dandenong railway station and its Cranbourne, Pakenham and Gippsland train services. Cr Memeti said the council was considering possible sites at Greaves Reserve and a vacant Cheltenham Road site south of the railway station. The next step is luring private financial backers to form the bid, and possibly to help build the stadium, Cr Memeti said. “The councils will supply the land, the stadiums and training facilities but it’s not our role to run the club. “We want to find somebody to run the club.” The squad would train at a $40 million facility to be built at Casey Fields in Cranbourne East. The training facility comprises a regional-level stadium pitch with three synthetic soccer fields, a natural turf field and pavilion. It would require about $20 million of state funding, Casey Mayor Sam Aziz said. He said the national league side would complement Casey’s partnership with Melbourne Football Club and Melbourne Stars Big Bash League team. Prior to the MoU signing, Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams had written a letter supporting the bid to state Sport Minister John Eren.

Cardinia Mayor Brett Owen, Casey Mayor Sam Aziz, Greater Dandenong Mayor Jim Memeti and Vince Grella. 167855 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

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News - Berwick - 11th May 2017  
News - Berwick - 11th May 2017