Bakrie Group completes buyout of Brisbane

Indonesia's Bakrie Group have snapped up the remaining stake in Brisbane Roar to wholly own the Australian domestic champions in a landmark investment hailed by the country's football administrators.

The group, controlled by the family of Indonesia's Golkar Party Chairman Aburizal Bakrie, took a 70 percent stake in Brisbane last October and have bought the remaining 30 percent from league administrators Football Federation Australia (FFA).

The Bakrie Group's investment makes them the first Asian owners of an Australian league club, a move welcomed by the FFA, which has had to bail out a number of cash-strapped clubs in the country's financially-vulnerable A-League in recent years.

"We have 1.7 million people playing soccer in Australia, but the A-League is only in its seventh season... obviously the Australian game has massive potential but we need capital," FFA corporate affairs director Kyle Patterson told Reuters on Monday.

"The Bakrie Group has invested in this potential and it's a terrific thing for the game here.

"It creates a template going forward."

Brisbane had been under league management for seven months prior to the Bakrie Group taking their initial stake.

The previous private owners handed their license back to the FFA within days of the team winning their first premiership in the league's sixth season, having racked up millions of dollars in debts.

The Bakrie Group holds a number of football-related interests across the globe through their sporting arm Pelita Jaya Cronus, including stakes in an Indonesian Super League club and a Belgian second-division side.

The club, chaired by Dali Tahir, a former Asian football powerbroker, would appoint new foreign and international directors, and the FFA would not retain a presence on the board, Patterson said.

Aga Bakrie said in a statement: "The Bakrie Group sees huge potential in the... A-League as one of Asia's top professional club competitions and naturally we want the Brisbane Roar to be in the forefront of this development.

"Our aim is to develop the Roar into Australia's biggest club and carry that success across Asia."

Australia's A-League took over from the defunct National Soccer League, which collapsed under a mountain of debts in 2004.

Despite growing local participation in the game, the 10-team league has struggled to maintain a foothold in the country's crowded sports market where indigenous football code Australian Rules and rugby league attract the lion's share of broadcast dollars and top athletes.

After a bright start in its first few seasons, the FFA has had to find new owners for a number of debt-ridden A-League clubs in recent years and has put expansion plans on hold.

However, league administrators have been buoyed by a lift in crowds in the current season as they prepare to kick off negotiations for a new rights deal, with the current agreement with pay-TV provider Foxtel to expire in 2013.


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