Inaugural Sydney FC chairman Walter Bugno says the club can’t replace Alessandro Del Piero’s quality but insists their new marquee needs to be someone who brings the aura that Sydney fans demand.
Bugno was at the helm when Sydney FC brought former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke to the harbour city in the inaugural A-League season, prompting the tag Bling FC.
The Sky Blues have made it clear they intend to replace the departed Del Piero with a new international marquee recruit, prompting rumours of a tilt at Nicolas Anelka, Diego Forlan, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand.
During Sydney’s nine-year existence the club have signed Yorke and Del Piero along with Juninho Paulista, John Aloisi and Brett Emerton as marquees.
The club have also recruited Italian forward Benito Carbone and Japanese legend Kazuyoshi Miura on guest deals.
Bugno said the Sydney market demanded footballers with an international aura and that bit of extra quality, which Del Piero delivered on both fronts.
“Sydney is an international city, its fans look for that bit of extra,” Bugno told FourFourTwo.
“I’ve always been a believer in the concept but the player has to bring more than just football quality.
“He has to be able to bring additional aura that can excite.
“The club has been committed to that path since its inception. It’ll be very interesting.”
While Del Piero has proved Sydney’s most popular marquee, the results and silverware didn’t follow.
Yorke had a more fruitful impact, scoring seven goals, winning the Joe Marston Medal for best afield in the Grand Final as he helped the club to the inaugural championship.
Bugno, who is a Juventus fan, refused to be drawn into discussion on comparing the two, but was glowing on Del Piero’s impact in the A-League.
“There’s no doubt he brought so many positives, not just to the club but the game,” Bugno said.
“He truly captured the concept of what the FFA wanted to achieve with the allowance of a marquee player.
“If you go back to Dwight Yorke, then Juninho, Kazu, Benito Carbone and now Alessandro, there’s no bigger name.
“It heightened the awareness of the code in the media, locally and internationally.”
Meanwhile, questions have been raised about Sydney FC’s brand and identity in recent months, particularly following Del Piero’s exit and the legacy he leaves.
Bugno played a key role in establishing the club’s glitz and glamour image in season one, based largely on their recruitment of Yorke and respected German coach Pierre Littbarski.
However, the club’s best finish in the past four years is fifth, a period during which they’ve missed the finals twice.
The situation combined with Sydney’s regular coaching and personnel changes have left fans questioning the club's direction and identity.
“Good, bad or indifferent, the club has positioned itself as a big club,” Bugno said.
“It’s a different question whether the club has lived up to its billing to fans. That’s the challenge which people can debate, but the brand is established.
“If you were to ask (chairman) Scott Barlow the satisfaction level of the sponsors at Sydney FC, my instinct would tell me it’s very high, given they are all renewing and he’s got new sponsors coming on board.
“Sponsors are getting their exposure and getting what they want. The brand positioning itself is working.”3 comments