Socceroos legend Vince Grella joins Serie D side Catania SSD as Vice-President

Vince Grella

Socceroos great Vince Grella has joined an Australian-led rebirth of Catania in Italy’s Serie D.

Following a declaration of bankruptcy which led to the expulsion of Catania from Italy’s Serie C, Melbourne-based Pelligra Group bought out the financially-stricken club in Sicily.

With Australian-born Ross Pelligra – who has Sicilian origins – leading the takeover, the former Serie A club were reborn as Catania SSD on Wednesday.

The confirmation of Catania’s new identity included the announcement of ex-Australia and Serie A midfielder Grella as vice-president.

Former Melbourne Heart midfielder Grella, Pelligra and the club will try to work their way up from the fourth tier of Italian football.

“Pelligra Group Pty Ltd announces that at 9.30 today, Wednesday 13 July, the company Catania SSD, with headquarters in Catania – Via Musumeci 171, was established before the notary Stefano Bandieramonte,” a statement read.

“Board of Directors of the newly established amateur sports club Catania SSD: Rosario Pelligra, President; Vincenzo Grella, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Giovanni Caniglia, Director of the Board. Catania SSD will officially request registration for the Serie D 2022-23 football championship.”

Catania have featured in the top flight on 17 occasions with the 2013-14 campaign their last in Serie A. Moreover, the likes of Diego Simeone, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Marco Giampaolo, Vincenzo Montella, Walter Zenga and John Toshack have coached the club.

Ross Pelligra added in a statement released by Catania:

““I am proud, happy and excited. I am joined by highly qualified professionals, who will have to develop a winning program, and the entire city of Catania, whom I publicly thank for their welcome and support.

“The fans offer us support, enthusiasm and that trust that we must always cultivate and never waste.

“Catania belongs to its people: ownership is a very specific social and legal responsibility that I carry with pride.”

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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