Tag Archives: Melbourne Victory

What is 777 Partners exactly?

Juan Arciniegas – Managing Director at 777 Partners, Josh Wander -Managing Partner/Co-Founder at 777 and Andres Blazquez who has become the 777 representative at Genoa FC with a ‘777’ Genoa shirt.

Doom and gloom among Melbourne Victory fans. And why not? When the World Cup finished we were all on top of the world. A great Socceroo campaign and ready to go. Then disaster happened. The APL announced the grand finals for Sydney thing, and thugs exploited the discontent to get their jollies by invading the pitch and assaulting a player, causing a series of penalties and bans. Then we find out that Melbourne Victory is in a very precarious financial position. Talk about when it rains it pours.

While members and fans were told that everything was hunky dory it is evident now that it wasn’t for some time. When 777 Partners got involved in Melbourne Victory there was hardly a murmur among the fan base. It was seen as a good thing especially after the sad passing of club director and major shareholder, Mario Biasin. The difference of what it was believed to have happened with the 777 involvement is reflected in the first paragraphs of two articles both co-written by Vince Rugari in the Channel 9 press. The first one written on 5/10/2022 stating “Melbourne Victory have secured their financial future after the death of former director Mario Biasin, with an American private investment firm adding the A-Leagues club to its growing network of teams across Europe and South America.” And the second written on 1/1/2023 stating “Melbourne Victory lost $6.7 million and was in deep financial trouble just months before it struck a deal that could hand control of the club to a US private equity investor within five years.”

What really alarmed fans was what that second article outlined: “The private equity investor was given the option to own up to 70 per cent of the club within five years through an investment of up to $30 million, the documents show. After four or five years, 777 Partners also had the right to walk away from Victory and be repaid the $30 million at a compounding interest rate of 10 per cent a year. The deal would also give it a preferential position over existing shareholders if Victory was liquidated.”

Basically, to be blunt, 777 Partners have Melbourne Victory by the short and curlies.

777 Partners on a soccer spending spree

As an Italian born the links between Melbourne Victory, 777 and Genoa pricked my interest.

One thing that is noticeable is that 777 went hard in getting involved with football clubs worldwide last year. In just a few months it either got partial or total control of very famous teams.

777 Partners has already been present in European football since 2018, when it took over 6% of Sevilla. However last year they went for the kill wanting to take over the club. Shareholders of the club blocked plans by 777 to oust its board and its Chairman Jose Castro and all board members but failed to line up the support needed at a public meeting of shareholders.

In March 2022, 777 Partners acquired full ownership of Belgian top-flight soccer club Standard Liège

In November 2022 it acquired a 64.7% controlling stake in Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin, a deal which could potentially be largest investment from a foreign company in a German soccer club.

In February 2022 it acquited a 70% stake in Brazilian soccer club Vasco de Gama 

The reason behind for this sudden acquisition spree is unknown. However, some business analysts say this is related to 777 Partners’ having the airline sector is at the center of their strategy. It is no coincidence that the headquarters are on the nineteenth floor of 66 Brickell, a skyscraper in Miami famous for being the home of the airlines. Recently, the fund purchased 24 Boeing 737-8 Max (with another 60 booked), with the strategy of leasing the aircraft to airlines, with particular attention to those aiming for low cost.

Andalusia and Seville are tourist destinations par excellence, while in Genoa the focus will be on developing the Cristoforo Colombo airport, with the ambition of making it the gateway for those comes from the Atlantic. And Melbourne Victory? The shirt sponsor of the team is Bonza airlines. A new low cost budget airline funded and backed by 777 Partners. The airline hoped to have planes in the sky, but the company’s take-off date is unclear as it is still navigating regulatory approvals with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to obtain its Air Operator’s Certificate.

Is 777 there for the money, not for the football?

One thing is certain. 777 Partners is not a charity. If the Melbourne Victory deal goes pear shape they’d be out of there as quickly as a plane out of Canberra on a Friday night before a long weekend. But they are not totally disinterested in football. In Genoa as their ‘football man’ they installed the Argentinian Gustavo Mascardi, who, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport discovered a few talents. The last was Paulo Dybala, but going back in time there are many other excellent names, from Montero to Crespo, Veron, Asprilla, Salas, Cordoba and Burdisso: the best of South America brought to Italy.

The future of Melbourne Victory

There is plenty of doom and gloom among Melbourne Victory supporters at the moment which is not surprising. How 777 will behave towards the Victory will determine its survival. If they are in for the quick buck and a liquidation under extremely generous terms then it is doomed. But if, how it seems to be overseas, they want a successful team to work in tandem with their aviation interests then perhaps 777 may be the unlikely saviour out of this mess.

Melbourne Victory is no North Queensland Fury or Gold Coast United. It is an A-League foundation club which has been very successful and has one of the biggest (and in certain years the biggest) membership and fans in the whole competition. Its demise would hit hard at the A-League’s image and reputation.

Looking the buying strategy of 777 Partners they don’t want to be just a minor shareholder but be the owner of the joint (hence the Seville dispute). The way Melbourne Victory is at the moment they can name the date of when the current club management is going to be ousted. In the scheme of things 777 bought Vasco de Gama for USD $138 million, Genoa for 150 million Euros I guess buying Hertha Berlin wouldn’t have been cheap. Up to 30 AUD millions for Victory is relatively a minor investment. Victory may survive. If it will remain the same team as it is now, or whether it may have a Melbourne Hearts – Melbourne City type of transformation is yet to be seen.

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Melbourne Victory response to its active fans

Today all Melbourne Victory members got a letter from the club regarding issues which have occurred with the active fans.  For those who are not members and are interested



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Trouble in paradise. When football fans turn into each other.

Being a Melbourne Victory fan has been somewhat depressing in the last couple of days. Not regarding the performance on the park, but mainly due to the reaction to the restrictions that the FFA has imposed on active fans and Melbourne Victory’s response to them.

This comes on top of a boycott of the designated active area that has been going on for some time.  This boycott was caused by restrictions imposed by the club that the active fans felt were unreasonable.  Now on top you got more from the FFA.  The feeling that these are targeting a whole group for the mis-behaviour of a few and the fact that fans feel the Club is not standing up for them has caused some fans to be mighty pissed off.  Add to this the insipid performance of the team it all adds up for the 2013/14 season to be the summer of our discontent.

I am not a member of the active group on the Northern Terrace, but I can also glimpse reading the Victory Fans forum there on top of that there is some social dynamic/politics that I am not aware off.  The Northern Terrace is formed by a number of groups.  Before the Blue and White Brigade  (BWB) was the main group.  Something happened and now it seems that the Northern End is organised mainly by another group called the Northern Terrace Collective (NTC).

If these machinations are difficult to discern for someone like me who is interested in what’s going on, these would be a total mystery to the fans who don’t belong to the active areas behinds the goals at both end.  All they can see is that the atmosphere that they enjoyed is now gone.  I would imagine many would be unaware of the social and cultural undercurrents in an active group, and probably wouldn’t care.  But as I stated in a previous post these are important,  because while an A League Club may be a ‘franchise’ the relationship amongst an active group is not, it is meaningful and real.

And there lies the danger for a club such as Melbourne Victory.  The level of attachment is not at the levels achieved in places like Europe or South America, where the relationship to a team is strongly identified with things such community, class and family.  When the club does things that fans don’t like fans react and resist or try to change.  In the case of a relatively new team such as Melbourne Victory, where these deep external relationship don’t exist the fan searches for meaning in other areas.  One is geographical (Melbourne) but the most significant would be the relationship in the fan group itself.  By restricting and limiting the actions of the group, the active member firstly does not receive the same amount of benefit it once did.  Adding to it there is a sense that the club does not really care about that fan and consequently there is no benefit in reciprocating loyalty.

Personally I will still be a member, and I will still support Melbourne Victory.

Because my membership for me is more than just giving money for a club, it’s a way for me to show my support for the code of Association Football.  Yes, at the moment Melbourne Victory is a poor vehicle to do that, but it’s what I got.   So while supporting a club with gormless pillocks like Robson at the helm is problematic, I rather do that than give any reason to the many enemies of our code to gloat about any reduction in membership. For them this would be seen as a ‘aleague in crisis’ thing. They would be totally unaware of all the real reasons behind it. Just see the glee around when the BBL outrated football this year.

However as I said before, I think that the active members have good reasons to feel aggrieved.

At this stage there is lots of anger towards the club.  This is actually a good sign.  Relationship councillors will say that when a marriage is in trouble,  anger means that there is still meaning in the relationship.  There is still passion.  The danger is when one of the partners stops arguing and becomes apathetic.  That is a sign that the marriage may be over, as one of the partners has lost any feeling towards the other. They have stop caring (and therefore have even anger) and there is no relationship anymore.  The next thing that can happen is that the non caring partner has booked a rent truck to put their valuables to move out.

The assertion by many on social media that they won’t renew their membership next year is basically like checking what truck companies to ring.  So let’s hope that the Club and the active members can at least arrive at some point where they can achieve some mutual agreement.  A active members divorce with Melbourne Victory would be not be tragic for the team. But for the A League as a whole.


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When in Melbourne, do like the Romans do. Victoria FC.

So our Melbourne rivals have been bought by the big blue Manchester team. I must say that despite everything, I am very pleased. I am a Melbourne Victory fan, but a supporter of Australian Association Football first and foremost. The way Melbourne Heart was going looked towards oblivion, and that would not have done the competition any good. In fact I could just imagine the Rita Pahavis and the Rebecca Wilsons of this world salivating with anticipation in slamming the validity of ‘soccer’ in Australia.

But for now (and I hope it’s a success) we have had instead a huge vote of confidence in our little domestic competition from a major team playing in what could be argued, is the most popular football league in the world. So much so that our soccerphobic friends in the Herald Sun had to ignore the ‘Manchester City’ side of things and concentrate on islamophobia. But that’s another story.

As a Melbourne Victory fan I would love for Melbourne Heart to become really competitive. The Melbourne Derby has the potential to become a major sporting event in this AFL obsessed town.

But Manchester City buying the Heart has another advantage. Many have commented how Heart does not really have any differentiation from Victory. Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers have the geographical and socio-economic differences. But this is not the case with Heart. Many Victory fans have mentioned that Heart will become a ‘foreign’ team while Victory will remain local. We’ll see if this occurs. But it is mooted that new new ownership will change the name from Melbourne Heart to Melbourne City (current holders of that name permitting). That’s another positive, as I always thought that names such as Roar, Mariners, and of course Victory are daft and Americanized. And this made me think of another city with two great rivals. Rome.

Rome has two main teams. Roma and Lazio. One is named after the city, while the other is named after the region where Rome is located.


What about if we did the same for us here? Tony Ising, who had the original idea of a ‘Melbourne Victory’ thought of the name because Victory and Victoria sounded similar.

Let’s go the whole hog and let’s do what the Romans do. Let’s have Melbourne City, but let’s rename Melbourne Victory as Victoria FC. Maybe this could even encourage the club to really try to represent the whole of the state (playing an Asian Championship Qualifier in Geelong is already a start). Melbourne Victory’s jumpers with the big white V are designed on players from other sports such as Australian Rules and Hockey representing the State so you can see that Victoria FC is almost there. Sorry about the bad photoshopping, but you get the idea.

Fans can also use a Kinks song for a chant. I can see it already.

I was born, lucky me
In a land that I love
Though I am poor, I am free
When I grow I shall fight
For this team I shall die
Let the sun never set
Victoria, victoria, victoria, toria
Victoria, victoria, victoria, toria

Land of hope and gloria
Land of my victoria
Land of hope and gloria
Land of my victoria
Victoria, toria
Victoria, victoria, victoria, toria

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…Here with my mates on the Northern Terrace.

Despite the annoyance of my some of my inner suburban lefty friends, sport is very important aspect of Australian culture.  This is not a new discovery. Sociologists and political academics have known this for some time.  One example is Ian Turner and Leonie Sandercock who wrote about the role of Australian Rules Football in Australian culture back in the late 70’s . (Turner was apparently very dismissive of football, seeing it as a foreign game ,which for a Communist and its internationalist traditions, it was an interesting perspective).

But football in Australia has always raised plenty of issues which could fill a PhD in sociology. What is the role of football in an Australian context? It’s society? It’s history?  (One place that I would recommend if interested in this aspect is Ian Syson’s blog ).  When you go to an AFL match for instance, you can see that apart from the ‘Cheer Squad’ the support is sporadic, with fans barracking basically on their own.  Association Football has had the tradition of being a vehicle for people to gather and organise support in some way or another.  It can be chanting in England or drums and streamers in South America.  The support is unified, and in Europe and South America choreographed and organised.  So when Association Football is played in Australia it is understandable that this type of support should occur here as well.  But Australia has been very wary about different cultures.  Multiculturalism can go only so far – when it appears in things as sacred as sport then the unease can be quite substantial.  Because of its ‘foreigness’ this support tends to bring forward all the insecurities and anxieties of cultures which haven’t been assimilated and absorbed in an Australian mainstream.  I have already touched upon these themes in another post some time ago.

This conflict has been happening for some time now.  I don’t have to remind people of the soccerphobia amongst some in the media about this.  But this unease also exists within A-League clubs themselves, and what happened amongst the active fans during last Friday’s match between Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory is a case in point.

The ‘Split’ As Melbourne as Hipsters, changeable weather and good coffee.

Firstly a crush course in the differences amongst the active Melbourne Victory fans.  The Northern Terrace is inspired by an European type of support, organised and choreographed.  It has a number of groups (Blue and White Brigade, Horda etc.) that work together on match day.  This is different from the South End which is inspired by a UK type of support which is not as organised and more spontaneous.

Not sure if other teams have these sort of splits, but ideological splits are very Melbourne.  The ALP Split of the 50’s for instance I think that only happened in Victoria. Maybe its the weather.  Suffice to say that fans protesting is quite common overseas. (For a wider political discourse about the tradition of fans’ protests you can’t go past ‘Shoot Farken‘ )

Since the start of the season the Northern Terrace fans have been in dispute with the administration of Melbourne Victory because of restrictions placed upon them.  According to the NT fans statement the objections were as follows:

  • Tarps set up surrounding the North Terrace from both sides at both Swan St and Docklands stadiums (also from above, at Swan St).  The Northern Terrace believes that along with the obvious restriction this places a limit to the organic growth of the North Terrace and also presents a serious health and safety risk, particularly when taken in conjunction with the requirement of scanners.  Which is the next point.
  • Scanners at the entrances to the North Terrace main bay at both Swan St and Docklands stadiums. All North Terrace Home End Category members will be expected to scan their membership barcode when entering and exiting the main NT bay. The objection is that people arriving late to the game will be forced to wait in long queues to enter the bay, and this issue will only be exacerbated at half time as hundreds of people attempt to use the two available exits to either go to purchase food and drinks or go to the bathroom. The NT feels that this plus the introduction of banners has the potential of creating unnecessary crowding and dangers.
  • Banning of group banners from the front fence area of the terrace. The NT believes this is a totally unacceptable infringement on their independence as a terrace.  According to the NT, they have been assured by the club that it has nothing to do with intrusion on sponsorship space, but rather is an attempt to display a sense of unity amongst the terrace. The NT believes that this imposition shows a total lack of understanding of North Terrace, and global football supporter, culture.

What happened next is very much like an industrial dispute response. The NT effectively went on ‘strike’ boycotting the area designated to them and relocating to Level 3 at Etihad Stadium and Level 2 at AAMI Park.

So what’s going on?  I think that the dispute goes beyond just petulance.  I think it goes to the heart of the relationships between fans, a Club that was created from a business model, and what I mentioned before, the way different people see how ‘support’ should be in an Australian context.

It’s just not supporting the club. The formation of a Social Identity

Now, I am not member of the NT. I what I would call belonging in the ‘salad sandwich’ section (not as expensive as the prawn sandwich one). My impression come from reading the fans forum and talking to a some members of the NT and what comes loud and clear is the process of identification not only with Melbourne Victory, but within the Northern Terrace (and its subgroups themselves).

Psychology and Management studies have identified and examined Social Identity Theory (SIT) for at least the last 40 years.  This theory mainly arose from psychological studies in organisational structures in the 60’s.  Basically, according to SIT, people tend to classify themselves and others into various social categories, such as organisational membership, religious affiliation, gender and age cohort (Tajfel and Turner, 1985).  Social identification therefore, is the perception of oneness with belongingness to some human aggregate.  So in the case of the Northern Terrace, they may define themselves in terms of the groups they belong to.  They perceive themselves as an actual member of the group and as a consequence perceive the fate of the group as their own. (Ashforth and Mael, 1989)

Many A-League fans from other teams and Melbourne Victory fans themselves who are not part of the NT are sometimes are dismissive of the NT because they seem to be protesting a lot.  (For a great account of how non NT fans see the protest, read The White Line blog post)  The criticism stems that we have been provided with a team to follow, and the role of the fan is to support the players on the pitch, not to believe that somehow the needs of the NT are above the needs of the players to feel supported as they play.

I think this criticism fails to understand the issue of how Social, or Group Identity works in the NT.  I believe that NT members for the most part do want to support the team and give it all to make them win. But I also think that to do that they need to own their support, not to be dictated by some authority above.  In general Melbourne Victory support is different from most other clubs because it hasn’t been sanctioned by the club itself.  Unlike The Cove for example, it didn’t start with the option of becoming a member when you got the membership form from the club.

Melbourne Victory didn’t involve itself at all in that aspect. The fans organised themselves and this, I believe, has developed a very different dynamic between the active supporters and the Club where the supporters  feel that they owe the Club management very little.  So when the Club makes decisions that the NT feel impact on their support they probably see it as an imposition. A restriction on something that the Club haven’t had any part of, but in the same time is used by the Club for their publicity and to look good on TV.

Many old NSL supporters have been dismissive of the A-League as being ‘plastic’ and teams ‘franchises’.  For some supporters this was offset by the creation of spontaneous fans groups have ensured that the experience of following Melbourne Victory is authentic.  The trips interstate, the meeting before in the pub, the chanting and choreography at the match are very powerful mechanisms for bonding an group identification.  While the creation of a team like Melbourne Victory is a business, the NT may feel that their support is not. And that while the loyalty is towards the Club and the players, it is also amongst themselves and how they support the team.

The way forward

My observation from my seat on the wing, is that the more the NT is allowed to do their thing, such as having a megaphone, having banners, and even use things like streamers and perhaps even a overhead display in important matches the less unwanted behaviour such as flares etc. tends to happen.  From my own observations there is still some way to go in educating security in how active fans want to support the team.  For instance the decision of security to remove an innocuous banner saying ‘Football is Freedom’ is an overreaction if I ever saw one.

Football is Freedom

Security guards try to take ‘Football is Freedom’ banner away from fans.
(from @Gibbe84)

I think that there is still unease and suspicion on the part of the Club management about the active fans.  They love the atmosphere, but are probably very uncomfortable that they are unable to control these groups.  One reason is very legitimate.  Amongst the NT it can’t be denied that there is some elements that are wannabees Ultras from Europe, and dismiss any support without flares, and a whiff of violence as ‘AFL crap’.  Again here we have an issue about identity and how football plays out their anger and unease in being in Australia from a different background. Behaving as they perceive is a ‘true football supporter’ which is against the Australian mainstream is a way to act against a culture they may not feel part of.  But this would take a whole new post.  But suffice to say that the Club is entitled to ensure that dangerous behaviour does not occur and it is stamped out.  How it does this is the question.  The Club seems to label the NT like a ‘problem’ that has to be managed and controlled.  As others have said the NT has to recognise that there have been problems with the behavior of some of the active fans, and the Club is perfectly entitled to ensure that these do not occur.

On the other hand the Club should be sophisticated enough to recognise that the football culture the NT has introduced in the Australian sporting landscape is unique, and that an independent active group is that, independent.  And as long as the law is respected they should be able to grow, and support the team as they see fit.  They are not, and cannot be an arm of the structure of the Club.

Ashforth, Blake E., and Fred Mael. “Social identity theory and the organization.” Academy of management review 14, no. 1 (1989): 20-39.

Tajfel, H. and Turner, J. 1985. The social identity theory of integroup behaviour.. In: Worchel, S. and Austin, W. eds. 1985. Psychology of intergroup relations. 2nd ed. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, pp. 7-24.


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The Kewell effect.

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A lot will be written about Kewell coming to Melbourne Victory.  On the forum the reaction is overwhelmingly positive.  From ecstatic and over-optimistic “It will revolutionise football, Melbourne Victory will become bigger than the AFL etc” to the more realistic welcome, and let’s hope it works out.  There are also some negative comments though.  Apart from the impression that Kewell, and especially his agent were ‘money hungry’ (although it appears that the delay in signing Kewell was due to contractual issues) there is a sense that we have gone for the celebrity signing, and that perhaps, Melbourne may regret it.  That perhaps the money should have been spent on some other less famous player but which was fitter and younger.

But for me the advantage of signing Kewell is not primarily of him assisting or kicking goals (which I hope he does, because that is what he is paid for) but it is a bit like Cadel Evans,  where I bet that many people still don’t know any other bicycle rider beside him, but his success has given a boost to cycling.

The same will happen with Kewell.  His fame will help the team, and the sport to cut through the very competitive Melbourne sport market, which is dominated by the AFL.  I know that for the footbal true believers the fact that people who never heard of a corner kick before start asking us about Kewell and so on, and that it looks like all of a sudden there appears to be an increase in membership enquiries  which we can term ‘bandwagoners’.

True, we can ask why people may be interested in following Melbourne Victory now, just because probably the most famous Australian player is in the team.  Where were these fans before? Why didn’t come on board earlier?  Are they attracted by the sport in itself of just because they may know who Kewell is?

There is the risk that many of these ‘new fans’ will abandon the team once the novelty has worn off, but perhaps some will start to like the game and become permanent fans.  Today’s bandwagoner may become tomorrow’s committed fan.  Probably not the majority, but even if a proportion do stay, it’s worth it.

And as I said before, the media who often is indifferent, and in some cases hostile to football may increase the coverage of the sport and the team, and while we may ask again, why didn’t you cover us before? Any increase of media interest should be welcomed.

So I really hope that Kewell will succeed in the team.  That the fans, even those who are at the moment unconvinced about his value, will warm to him and that his stint at Melbourne Victory will provide the happy ending to his playing careers that he certainly deserves.


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Melbourne Celtic Fans call for AAMI boycott

Message on facebook:


Ghirls & Bhoys,
Over the past month a group of Melbourne based Celtic supporters have been planning a large green & white streamer and tickertape display that would cover the entire Celtic away section. This is no easy task and many hours have been put into this by members of the Melbourne Celtic family. We have been informed by AAMI Park that they would rather a sterile atmosphere and have banned the Celtic display.

Sure Celtic supporters have done similar displays in the Camp Nou, Hampden Park, Celtic Park, San Siro, Emirates, Old Trafford and even the Bigotdome, but AAMI Park says no.

In response to their nanny state policy, Celtic supporters backed by the CSC’s across Australia are calling on fans attending the game at AAMI Park to Boycott purchasing food and drink inside the stadium as a protest to their ridiculous policy.

Spread the word amongst the Celtic Family on line and join in on the protest. To find out more about events on the night of the game, make sure you get to the Huddle at 1pm in the city, pre game drinks at either the Pint on Punt or the Westpac Centre.

Let the People Sing……


Welcome to the everyday world of a Melbourne Victory active supporter.

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Melbourne Derby – Football was the winner.

Photographer Joe Castro from AAP

People may expect me to feel despondent after my team, Melbourne Victory lost its first ever derby with the new Melbourne team Melbourne Heart, but in fact I was in a fairly cheerful mood as I was cycling home up Wellington St climbing Clifton Hill. But the fact is that while I care about Melbourne Victory, I care about Australian Association Football even more, and overall I felt that old cliche that ‘football is the winner’ was true.

Of course I would have preferred that Melbourne Victory won, but there was one thing I feared more than a Victory loss, that the first Melbourne derby was a fizzer. The A-League has been beset by plenty of bad news recently and the last thing it needed is this ‘big event’ being a non-event. I was heartened (maybe I shouldn’t use anything with ‘heart’ in it!) when I heard that the match was a virtual sellout by Thursday. But the I got worried that the game wouldn’t be commensurate to the media interest and hype.

Fortunately the match was what the doctor ordered. It had goals, it was entertaining and it had plenty of atmosphere. Personally I was doubtful whether we needed another Melbourne team which didn’t have any feature whether geographical or cultural that differentiates itself from Victory. However the fans were there and in good voice which made a great atmosphere. Now Melbourne Heart is a reality, and its viability as a team is part of the success of the A-League as a whole.


Melbourne Victory fans state that 'there is only one Melbourne'


Photographer Theo Karanikos

There was another reason why I felt happy on Friday night, the fact that not only the fans were vocal and came in numbers, but they were there in good spirits. For the first time in a football match I felt like I was at an AFL match because for the first time supporters of both teams were together. Hearing opposition fans nearby with scarves hats etc. of different colours to Melbourne Victory bagging Victory players was a novelty (also hearing Muscat being booed!) But even more important another good thing that came out of the game is that opposition fans mixed (and I even saw mates from both teams sitting together) with no problems at all. This was something anti-football AFL types threw back at us, stating that we needed to be segregated because otherwise incidents would occur. Well since last night that shows that’s not true. I always liked the fact that in the AFL fans mix, and shows that perhaps we are creating our own Australian way of supporting the world game.

Other bloggers opinions about the game:   victoryblog is disappointed with the tactics. Phil osopher shares with me the belief that ‘football was the winner’.  Neil says that Victory didn’t step up to the big occasion, while Vingear Hill gives a fairly impassionate  report of the game despite being a Victory fan.

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Melbourne Prefab Heart

Derbies are one of the biggest facets of world football. Milan vs Inter, Lazio vs Roma, Olympiacos vs Panathinaikos, Atlético Madrid vs Real Madrid, Boca Juniors vs River Plate…I could go on.

It is said that civil wars are those with most hatred and (fortunately without the killing in the thousands) this can be said when two teams from the same city. There is an intense dislike for people who share the same air, walk the same streets supporting another team. The antipathy is amplified as unlike a defeat from a team from another town, the supporters of the winning team are far away, with a derby the opposition can be everywhere….your colleague, your neighbour….your boss. Of course the chortling and the schadenfreude if you win is also much sweeter much for the same reasons.

The A-League hasn’t had the same type of match (if you discount Central Coast Mariners and Sydney – maybe close, but no cigar). The introduction of Melbourne Heart will be the first time two teams from the same city will be battling it out in the competition.

I must admit that I have my misgivings. I look at the successful intra-city rivalries in world football and there is often something behind it. Inter is an abbreviation of Internazionale. A group of people were unhappy about the domination of Italians in the AC Milan team, and broke away from them, thus creating a different philosophy and mindset from the other team in that city.

Real Madrid have long been seen as the establishment club, with the Bernabéu Stadium alongside banks and businesses on the classy and aristocratic Castellana, while while Calderon is beside a brewery, with its Atlético fans being more working-class which comes particularly from the south of the city.

Of course I can go on and more knowledgeable football people will be able to recount many more (and we will not mention sectarian differences such as Rangers and Celtic). So rivalries come from differences. The team represent something that fans can identify with. I am not sure that Melbourne Hearts does provide that difference. There have been rumors that some of the fans disaffected by the ‘new football’ and that have eschewed Melbourne Victory will follow the Heart and create a rivalry. But why would that be the case? Like Melbourne Victory has been approved by the FFA with a consortium created and led by a businessman (Peter Sidwell). In that sense there is no split, no reason to be ‘against’ that team apart from the fact that on the pitch they will be trying to score more than us. Of course over time, a rivalry may develop, but it won’t be instant.

The other factor for me is that the health of the A-League, and consequently the health of football in Australia is the major concern for me. So while I want Melbourne Victory to be winning, I don’t want Melbourne Heart to fail either. Having Hearts draw a small crowd, and being unsuccessful would only be fodder for the ‘anti-sokkah’ brigade in the media.

Interestingly this apparent lack of difference will not be the case for Sydney FC and Sydney Rovers where the strong presence of football culture in the western suburbs of that city presents points of differentiation immediately.

So good luck Melbourne Hearts. As a Melbourne Victory supporter I hope will dominate you, but as a supporter of football in Australia I hope you will succeed.

So what should we call the derby? We have the Superclásico, the Clássico dos Milhões, Derby della Capitale, the Merseyside derby and the Steel City Derby. Maybe the Yarra derby? The Bearbrass derby? Or perhaps the skinny double shot caffelatte derby?


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A-League Grand Final.

So we have the grand final that the A-League always meant to have but never did.  As Mike says in his blog :  “And so the FFA’s dream final has come to pass”. Melbourne vs. Sydney.  The two largest cities in the countries and by consequence the two biggest group of supporters.  However the 13,000 or so spectators that went to see the Sydney  – Wellington preliminary final shows that Sydney supporters are somewhat fickle.  They did go to watch Melbourne in the last game of the season but apparently a very important match that will get them to the Grand Final didn’t inspire.

Fortunately Wellington did get behind their team in New Zealand and rumors abound that Etihad is filling quickly (20,000 tickets already sold I’ve heard).  Also the great thing is that they are moving the stands forward which means thta we will have a configuration which is much better for the spectators and the atmosphere than being in an Aussie Rules oval situation.

While as a ‘real fan’ I should be concerned that the Champion team of the A-League is Melbourne’s opponent, I can only see positives in this outcome.  The biggest two cities in Australia meeting can only be a good thing for the A-League’s exposure.  Also by Sydney being there, as Sydney has already assured a place in the Asian Champions League by winning the Championship (ie being first on the ladder at the end of the home and away season) it means that even if Melbourne loses it also has a place in next’s years’ ACL and considering Melbourne campaign in Asia hasn’t gone well this year it is good that it has another go.  Of course I want Melbourne to win.  But whoever wins I would be happier if it is a great match which becomes a great exponent of the game and benefits the A-League and football as a whole.

More comments also from Eeamonn.

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