With Football Federation Australia finalising the transfer of Western Sydney's license, Goal Australia determines the challenges facing the new ownership consortium1. Replacing Shinji Ono
The Japanese star was a major reason for the success of the new franchise on and off the field and he will be missed, both commercially and in a football sense. Tony Popovic may not feel the need to recruit an overseas player with the same clout as Ono, but if the new owners don't attempt to recruit a star with a similar profile, it could be interpreted as complacency and send the wrong message to the club's supporters and their rivals about which direction the Wanderers will move after leaving the FFA fold.
2. Backing Tony Popovic in the transfer market
It's not just Ono the Wanderers have lost, with Aaron Mooy and Youssouf Hersi lured away and a host of other players released, including inaugural captain Michael Beauchamp, reliable (and popular) reserve goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson and first-choice defenders Jerome Polenz and Adam D'Apuzzo. Beauchamp's departure made sense with Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Daniel Mullen and Matthew Spiranovic contracted for next season, while Anthony Golec, Dean Bouzanis and Golgol Mebrahtu among those who have also been signed in the last six months. But how much impact has the transfer of ownership had on contract renewals and the recruitment process to date? There may be catching up to do.
3. Keeping hold of the coach
Tony Popovic was reportedly on the radar of Norwich City following their relegation from the Premier League to the Championship and although the Canaries have since appointed Neil Adams on a long-term basis, the Wanderers coach is highly thought of in England after serving as assistant manager at Crystal Palace. Having lost close friend and colleague Ante Milicic to the Socceroos and achieved everything short of the title in just two seasons, Popovic will surely harbour ambitions of testing himself in football's heartland. There may ultimately be nothing the new owners can do to keep their man if the right offer comes in, but they must still do everything in their power to try and retain a prized asset.
4. Building a strong relationship with the RBB
Paul Lederer and his consortium have only to look at Melbourne Victory to see the damage that can be done when a club's relationship with its largest active supporter group breaks down. The first real signs of trouble with the Red and Black Bloc appeared after a flare was thrown in the AFC Champions League match at home to Ulsan in February. The subsequent punishment and associated issues prompted the RBB to go on strike for the following game at home to the Newcastle United, resulting in an eerily quiet atmosphere at Pirtek Stadium and a flat defeat, part of a three-match losing streak which briefly threatened to derail the season. The club must seek to promote law-abiding behaviour among the 'ultras' without alienating those passionate fans or diluting the match-day experience.
5. Defending their patch
It's early days yet, but the success of the Wanderers has others casting envious glances in their direction and concocting schemes to muscle in on their territory. Earlier this month Campbelltown Council talked up the possibility of a launching a franchise in the south west, even wheeling out Brett Emerton to spruik their cause. In the distant future Sydney may prove big enough to support three healthy clubs, but for the time being the Wanderers need to maintain exclusivity until they have consolidated their position, and should encourage their friends at FFA to look elsewhere in search of expansion possibilities, perhaps in the general direction of Wollongong or further afield.