Southern Expansion advisory committee get to work

Together: (From left) Sutherland Shire FA general manager Jeff Stewart, St George FA general manager Craig Kiely, Football South Coast CEO Ann-Marie Balliana and Southern Expansion CEO Chris Gardiner. Picture: John Veage

Together: (From left) Sutherland Shire FA general manager Jeff Stewart, St George FA general manager Craig Kiely, Football South Coast CEO Ann-Marie Balliana and Southern Expansion CEO Chris Gardiner. Picture: John Veage

The first meeting of the advisory committee looking to bring a professional football club to the St George district, Sutherland Shire and Illawarra convened last week – and are ready to get to work.

Southern Expansion CEO Chris Gardiner was joined by Sutherland Shire Football Association general manager Jeff Stewart, St George Football Association general manager Craig Kiely and Football South Coast CEO Ann-Marie Balliana at the SSFA offices at Kareela on Thursday.

The franchise, with the working title of Southern Expansion, was launched earlier this month by St George football icon and football commentator Les Murray and former Socceroo Craig Foster, with the bid financially backed by Chinese property giant JiaYuan Group.

The club plans to have A-League and W-League teams playing out of the three areas, with an aim to be ready for the 2018-19 season.

“This first meeting was intended to establish the structure and process for our football collaboration with the three associations that make up Southern,” Gardiner said.

“We re-affirmed the commitments Southern Expansion has made to the associations, especially regarding ongoing close consultation, development of young player pathways and programs and sharing resources back into each association from the success of the professional club.

“We will now start meeting on a monthly basis. Southern Expansion has agreed to make representatives available to meet the club presidents of each association, to meet and brief their technical directors, and the sponsor focus groups involving their members to help shape the direction of the club and prepare for broader community consultations.

“This will be a professional club with its foundations in its local associations and this advisory committee, plugged into our governance, is crucial to that commitment.”

Kiely believes the potential club will have many benefits for junior pathways in the area as well as the use of Jubilee Oval, Kogarah while Stewart is excited to see Southern Expansion benefit women’s football in the shire.

This will be a professional club with its foundations in its local associations and this advisory committee... is crucial to that commitment. - Southern Expansion CEO Chris Gardiner

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