Western Sydney Wanderers chairman Lyall Gorman is working with the Japanese Consul-General’s office in Sydney to establish how to best use Shinji Ono in a promotional capacity off the field.
The club says the arrival of the Japanese superstar, who will make his A-League debut playing for the Wanderers against Central Coast Mariners at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday, had already translated into interest from potential sponsors.
"We’ve had overtures from a few sponsors in the last few days," Gorman said. "A number of Japanese-owned companies have shown an interest in getting involved with us.
"The last few days have been intriguing, in terms of showing just how big a name Shinji has.
"I'm speaking with the Japanese Consul-General about the previously untapped Japanese fan base out here.
"The Consul-General’s office has expressed great interest in Shinji's arrival in Australia. He’s a role model for the Japanese community.
"Our existing fan base has been very strong in welcoming and supporting the club’s choice of Shinji as our marquee player, and we are now trying to build on that. Shinji will provide an outlet for Japanese football fans out here.
"Everyone who is linked to the club is really excited about him coming."
Ono has tried to downplay his superstar status, saying that his main aim was to settle into the team structure under coach Tony Popovic.
"I’m not the big star," Ono said. "I just try to do my job and fit in with the rest of the team.
"I’m not a selfish player – I’m just as happy to try and create something for my teammates as I am to try and create something for myself."
But Ono will be the main attraction for many of the fans who will be there to see the Wanderers make their A-League debut. Gorman said indications at this stage were that a crowd of up to 12,000 would attend.
"We’re obviously working as hard as we can to maximise the attendance," Gorman said. "It's looking like a crowd of between 10,000 and 12,000 at the moment, and that would be a good start for the club. Hopefully, the weather will be fine."
Ono said he was sure his game would translate straight to the A-League, adding: "I think if you’re a good player, you can be a good player wherever you go. I believe I’ll be able to settle into the game here sooner, rather than later."
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