New A-League license holders Western Melbourne have already been inundated by calls from agents across the world, as the club’s director of recruitment Lou Sticca sets about building a “super competitive team” to hit the ground running next season.
The man who brought Dwight Yorke, Alessandro Del Piero, Juninho and Shinji Ono to Australia, will begin his latest round of empire building immediately, with the competition’s 11th team to be largely based in Geelong until their self-funded stadium precinct is rolled out in fast-growing Tarneit in three years time.
Sticca, whose contacts span continents, has been heavily linked as the driving force behind a bid to land Celtic skipper Scott Brown as the club’s inaugural marquee.
While reluctant to go into specifics, he is committed to making sure that Western Melbourne make the same of splash Western Sydney Wanderers did when they entered the competition seven years ago.
“We are open for business and need to get moving because we will begin training probably in June 2019, and have six months to build a roster of players, coaches and support staff. It’s pretty full on,” said Sticca.
“The phone has already been ringing off the hook from agents all over the place, even though we’ve only had the license a few hours.
“My job is to make sure we put a super competitive team on the park from day one.
“We’re not going to be there to make up the numbers, put it that way.
“I don’t want to comment specifically on Scott Brown because there are many players we are looking at.
“We won’t be telling people everything we’re doing and will announce things once they are done.”
Asked about his likely coaching targets, Sticca, who already has several names in mind, was equally circumspect.
“Regarding a coach, it’s like with the players, we will look at all possibilities,” he added.
“There will be no shortage of candidates on either front.”
With former Socceroos defender Steve Horvat the face of the bid, and the financial muscle behind it to become the first team in Australia to build and own its own stadium, Western Sydney’s case for inclusion in an expanding competition was compelling.
Sticca promised to deliver on the faith shown by the FFA board, with the closely-aligned Macarthur South West Sydney bid to follow them into the league in 2020-2021.
“I think the FFA believe there’s a significant amount of football know-how in our club and we have to reward the faith they’re putting in us,” added Sticca.
“Our stadium team will now get moving on gaining the planning and permits so construction can start as soon as possible.
“A significant portion of our first two seasons will have home games in Geelong (Kardinia Park) but we intend to roll out a number of games in regional centres like Ballarat, which has fantastic football facilities. We’re going to spread the love a bit to a wider western area.”
Referencing the precinct which will bring sought-after real estate to the A-League, Sticca said: “There’s no call on government to put in any additional effort to accommodate us.
“Infrastructure is already happening because the population growth is demanding it.
“There are two railway lines crisscrossing the area already and we’ve got a hugely productive relationship with Wyndham Council.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive feedback we’ve had across the board.
“When you get a call from the likes of Melbourne Victory‘s Kevin Muscat wishing you well, even though we’re going to be competitors and rivals in the same city, it’s very satisfying.”