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SBD Global/August 22, 2013/Franchises

A-League Denies NRL Club Penrith's Bid To Take Over Western Sydney Wanderers

National Rugby League side Penrith Panthers GM Phil Gould has "failed in a secret bid to buy A-League super club, the Western Sydney Wanderers," according to Phil Rothfield of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. The Panthers "recently lodged an expression of interest with UBS, the global financial services firm in charge of selling the club" for up to A$15M ($13.5M). A-League CEO David Gallop "immediately rejected the Panthers' interest, shutting down the potential for more conflict with his old rugby league arch-rival." Gallop said, "Why would we contemplate selling the Wanderers to a club from another code? And while we are posing these questions, why would a club from another code want to invest their money and build up a rival?" Penrith Panthers Group CEO Warren Wilson, who confirmed the club's interest, said, "Personally I can't believe soccer was silly enough to say no to us. They should have at least let us in the door and put a price on the table. We might have been the biggest bidder, yet they've shut it down" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 8/21). In Sydney, Andrew Webster reported "some close to negotiations feared long-standing animosity" between Gould and Gallop "was at the heart of the matter." The "idea of relocating the Wanderers from their home base at Parramatta Stadium to Penrith was the deal breaker." There "is also an underlying fear the Wanderers could become a second cousin to the NRL side" -- which many consider to have happened with the Newcastle Knights and Jets since mining magnate Nathan Tinkler assumed ownership of both franchises. Gallop said, ''We have been clear from day one that we want  to identify the right owners who will respect the culture of the Wanderers and the western Sydney football community." The Football Federation Australia rejection "is a blow for the Panthers Group in its bid to have a multi-purpose stadium built at Penrith" as part of plans for an A$850M sporting and leisure complex "in league heartland." Had the Panthers bought the Wanderers, it "would have provided sporting content during both winter and summer." The Panthers "are locked in a battle with Parramatta Stadium for stadium funding" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/21).
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