South Melbourne look to make peace with Victory

By , Ben McKay is a Roar Guru

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    The head of South Melbourne’s A-League bid has extended the hand of friendship to Melbourne Victory chiefs in an effort to head off any animosity between the two clubs.

    With expansion in the air, the prospect of the former NSL behemoth and the A-League’s biggest club meeting on the field is as close as it’s ever been.

    It’s a potential meeting that has fans salivating, but one Victory may not be so keen on.

    With a bulk of South Melbourne’s support moving into Victory’s column on the creation of the new league, a school of thought suggests the three-time champions don’t want their neighbours in the A-League.

    Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro raised eyebrows last week when he, in a fiery address, called on FFA to ensure expansion took the game to new audiences.

    “At the core of any expansion, we must be confident that any new licences don’t compromise the mainstream integrity and the marketability of the competition,” Di Pietro said.

    Those comments could be read as a not-so-subtle dig at South Melbourne’s candidacy but Bill Papastergiadis, South board member and A-League bid head, said Victory needn’t worry.

    “We’re absolutely no threat to Victory. We’re an asset to Victory, to the A-League and football in general,” he told AAP.

    “We’re not about cannibalising their membership, their supporters or the interest they’ve developed.

    “We think we can value add and that’s the beauty of the South Melbourne bid. It’s about the past coming to the future.”

    Papastergiadis said he would seek to talk to Di Pietro to help smooth the passage for their entry into the big time.

    “I’ve reached out to their president over the weekend for a coffee to talk to him a little bit about what we might bring to the table,” he said.

    “We’ve had discussions with (board member) Joe Mirabella and a few of the other people at Victory.

    “We see ourselves as working together with Victory as custodians of the game.”

    South’s potential entry into the league would create the “biggest and best” derby in Australia “by a long shot”, according to Papastergiadis.

    “It would be the perfect storm,” he said.

    “The latent interest in the former NSL powerhouse with the current A-League powerhouse. Those two coming together could only be for the betterment of football.”

    © AAP 2017
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