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Kingz in new A-League

Published: 2:10PM Monday November 01, 2004 Source: ONE Sport

The Kingz Football Club has been confirmed on Monday as one of the eight teams in Australia's new national soccer competition, which will be known as the Hyundai A-League.

The competition will start in August next year with the Kingz playing 21 matches in three rounds against Adelaide United, Queensland Lions, Central Coast Mariners from Gosford in NSW, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle United, Perth Glory and Sydney FC.

The Chairman of the Kingz Football Club's bid, Anthony Lee, is thrilled with the confirmation the Kingz are in the league suggesting it was a watershed day for the organisation.

"Today's confirmation is greeted by our organisation with a mixture of relief and excitement," Lee said.

"Relief that what we have known for some months as likely is now confirmed and in the public domain and excitement thinking of what lies ahead for us."

The Kingz are keen to seperate themselves from their unsuccessful past and are still unsure whether they will retain the name.

Lee is very clear in the aspirations of the new organisation and a desire to learn from past mistakes.

"Our recent restructure and set up of the new company under the majority ownership of Brian Katzen was all about the undoubted potential that we see in New Zealand hosting a franchise in the NNC (A-League)", said Lee.

"It is our clear belief that such a franchise can be successful on and off the park and play a vital role in the ongoing development of the code in New Zealand. The new owners are committed to working closely with New Zealand Soccer to make the new team the success that we as owners clearly believe they can be."

Katzen was equally enthused from his base in England.

"I have recent first hand experience in turning around the fortunes of a professional football club," Katzen revealed. 

"Not so long ago, Swansea City was on the brink of collapse. Now I am a Director of a healthy club on and off the park with great support from its community and fan base. It is my clear belief that a similar opportunity exists with the new club in the NNC."

A successful businessman in his own right, Anthony Lee is also investing into the new entity, with his company's (Total Football Ltd) 20% shareholding second only to majority owner Katzen's Octagon Sport with 60%. The other shareholders are Sky Television (5%), Chris Turner (10%), and New Zealand Soccer (non cash 5%).

While the old Football Kingz endured a rocky ride throughout their five year tenure in the old Australian National League, the new entity has no connections to the old company and is seen by recently appointed CEO Guy Hedderwick as a genuine second chance.

"We are underway with our planning for the NNC and included in that is market research on everything from the name of the team to the pricing of tickets," said Hedderwick.

"As far as we are concerned today is a green light to put that research into practical use and create an organisation and culture that the fans, media and commercial world will be proud to be associated with."

The new club will work closely with New Zealand Soccer with a memorandum of understanding ensuring best use of resources from both organisations. NZS CEO Bill MacGowan reiterated that while today was great news, it was in reality a case of reaching the start line.

"New Zealand Soccer is committed to the long term success of the new club and see them as playing a vital role in the player pathway from Small White (5 to 12 yrs) to international player," MacGowan said.

"In order to achieve to those objectives however, the NZ team must be successful and capture the support of the Auckland region first and foremost with gates but the country as a whole given the club is a one team one country franchise. There is much hard work to be done but under new ownership and with a comprehensive overhaul of the NNC, it is now or never."

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