The NSW South Coast bid to be part of the A-League has seen the region’s top club return to the past by re-branding as the Wollongong Wolves.
The NPL1 NSW club has been known as the South Coast Wolves in recent years, but launched their new logo, name and brand on the weekend.
The Wolves were famously crowned Australian champions in 2000 after coming from 3-0 down in the grand final against Perth Glory.
In one of the great sporting comebacks the Wolves – featuring the likes of Scott Chipperfield, Paul Reid and Saso Petrovski – won on penalties.
Chairman Andrew Byron said the history associated with the club meant they wanted to return to their former name given their A-League ambitions.
“We know the formula to make our club strong going forward,” Byron told FourFourTwo.
“We won’t throw away such a good brand that everyone outside of the region still remembers and cherishes. People still talk about that grand final.
“We’re looking to strengthen our position as an NPL outfit to start with and we have been engaging in discussions with certain people in corporate circles too.”
The FFA has hinted they won’t look into A-League expansion until the 2017-18 season, with the current television rights dictating timeframes.
Wollongong hosted its first A-League match in 2014-15 with almost 12,000 fans turning out, while more than 5,000 supporters witnessed the Wolves v Central Coast FFA Cup clash.
The region also hosted an Asian Cup warm-up between Iraq and Iran as well as an A-League All-Stars clash with the Young Socceroos in the past 12 months.
FFA CEO David Gallop has said that expansion will be based in regions with population bases in the millions not hundreds of thousands. That comment has raised the prospect of a joint Southern Sydney/Illawarra venture.
But Byron remains positive that a stand-alone Wollongong club would be the A-League’s best option.
“Realistically the one thing we’ve got that the others don’t is 60,000 people attached to football locally that can be contacted at any given time through our database,” he said.
Byron said the Wolves had aimed to get their “house in order” from grassroots, along with the Illawarra Stingrays. With that in place, he is hopeful of bringing in corporate support.
“As a stand-alone Wollongong outfit, we need the corporate support to bring the money and we’ll make the rest of it happen from grassroots upwards,” he said.
The Wolves chairman saw infrastructure and a home facility as key issues to be addressed, with WIN Stadium as their ideal A-League home.
The club has played their NPL 1 NSW home games at WIN Stadium in 2015. The Wolves currently sit 10th on the table after four wins, five draws and seven losses, with coach Nahuel Arrarte recently departing.
At a 35-year reunion last weekend former stars attended, including Alvin Ceccoli and Reid were present, along with foundation captain Chris Dunleavy.