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SBD Global/January 27, 2014/International Football

Man City's Takeover Of Melbourne Heart Could Take A-League To Next Level

The Melbourne Heart could undergo a facelift during the offseason.
The purchase of an A-League club by the Abu Dhabi owners of Man City "could be the single greatest trigger to take the game to the next level," according to Craig Foster of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Forgive most in the football community "for being immensely excited, since the past few years have been relatively frugal and, at times, uncertain." Thus for the so-called richest club in the world "to invest in the A-League is an event of such extraordinary possibilities as to change the dynamics within the industry." Man City "is owned in the Middle East, managed by Spaniards (Catalans, actually), and represented by the rest of the world: Argentinians, Ivorians, English, French, Spanish, Bosnian … and coached by a Chilean." That is football. If you were "to design a Trojan horse to send into a still partly closed environment fearful of the international game, this would be it." Many clubs "have talked about becoming the biggest in Asia, but the limiting factor is money." Only greater levels of investment in youth, in the squad, in coaching, marketing, tours and football systems "can achieve this." With the" desire and financial backing, Melbourne City or whatever the name Heart becomes, will have the genuine credentials to make this claim." And they "have the expertise, too" (SMH, 1/26).

HEART TRANSPLANT: In Sydney, Dominic Bossi reported Melbourne Heart "could undergo a complete facelift during the off-season after Football Federation Australia indicated it would be prepared to discuss a rebranding of the club with its new owners," Man City. Australia's governing body "is open to the possibility of Manchester City rebranding Melbourne Heart before the start of next season, beginning with a change of logo, name and colours." After buying a controlling 80% stake in the A-League strugglers, Man City has "already made moves to rename the club 'Melbourne City' as well as change the club's logo and colours to predominantly sky blue." There "will be no changes to Melbourne Heart's identity for the remainder of the season, but a group called MHFC Holdings Pty Ltd registered 'Melbourne City Football Club' as a trademark" on Jan. 16 in a sign of the changes to the club "expected to be made during the A-League break" (SMH, 1/25).

FAN FURY: In Melbourne, Michael Lynch wrote Heart's diehards "are up in arms at the prospect of a change in the club's colours." Social media "reacted angrily to comments made by an Australian Manchester City supporters group that the City takeover of the red and whites would not work unless the team was rebranded, its colours changed to sky blue, the same as Manchester City's, and its name changed to Melbourne City." A number of Heart supporters took to Twitter "to take issue with the City fans, arguing that while a name-change might be acceptable, dropping the club's red and white stripes was not" (THE AGE, 1/27).
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