‘Noisy neighbours’ Macarthur FC set to arrive to the clanging of cowbells

A cacophony of cowbells will ring around the Hyundai A-League next season as Macarthur FC prepare to make some serious noise during the 2020/21 campaign.

The Bulls are planning to shake up the competition after they signed off a $15m sponsorship deal with local businesses and announced they will become the first Hyundai A-League club to have two elected fans among their seven-strong board of directors, of which at least three will be female.

Former Brisbane Roar chief Ken Stead has been unveiled as the club’s Director of Football, while ex-Caltex Socceroos coach Frank Farina has been appointed Director of Football for their new Charles Perkins Soccer Academy.

The academy will offer opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and engage the wider football community in reconciliation activities, including a drive to establish an Indigenous Football Round.

And the wheels are already in motion as the league’s 12th club aim to build a squad that will be competitive in the Hyundai A-League from day one.

“We’re more than just a football club,” said Rabieh Krayem, Chairman of Macarthur FC, speaking at the club’s gala lunch in Campbelltown.

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“We’re not going to be little brother to [Western Sydney] Wanderers or Sydney [FC]. 

“We are going to be the noisy neighbour. 

“We intend to make a lot of noise, we intend to be at the forefront and we intend to have a voice.”

When Mr Krayem says he wants Macarthur FC to make themselves heard, he is not only talking metaphorically.

The club are encouraging their supporters to ring cowbells when the team runs out to let the opposition know that they are in Bulls territory. 

“Our first home game next year will be a full house, 15,000 to 18,000 people with cowbells,” he added.

“They are going to make some noise. Every team that comes here will know they are coming to our home with the sound of the cowbell.”

And Mr Krayem has no doubts about the momentum picking up in the Macarthur region.

“$15 million of revenue over three years locked away, even without a ball being kicked or a jersey designed, just shows the strength of what this football club will bring to the A-League and what football means to the South-West Macarthur region,” he added.

Drawing up the Macarthur FC blueprints

Newly appointed assistant coach Ivan Jolic is the man tasked with making headway in the football department.

Jolic, who also currently serves as Ante Milicic’s assistant for the Westfield Matildas, is in the market for between 40 and 45 players to build a roster with the depth to make an impact not only in the Hyundai A-League, but also in the Foxtel Y-League.

“At the moment, it’s all about establishing key targets and lists of the players that we may be after,” Jolic explained.

Ivan Joic (middle) alongside Westfield Matildas coach Ante Milicic on international duty.
Ivan Jolic (middle) alongside Westfield Matildas coach Ante Milicic on international duty.

“Being so far out, unfortunately, players won’t commit.

“Building relationships and building networks is probably the most important thing now so that when players and agents are ready to talk then we can hit the ground running.

“In a salary cap competition, everyone has got the same opportunities. That’s the heartening thing. 

“We believe if we can establish, create and recruit a really good squad then we will be very competitive in year one.”

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While the wheels are turning on player recruitment, measures are being made off the pitch to ensure supporters of Macarthur FC will get a say in how their club is run.

“Fans are the life blood of the game and without fans there would be no professional game,” said Pablo Bateson, Interim Chair of Football Supporters Australia.

“They contribute so much and it’s essential that they are part of decision making. 

“One of [Macarthur FC’s] exciting initiatives is that two fans - one male and one female - will be elected onto the new board. 

“This is exciting new ground. It’s setting a new benchmark for clubs.

“Fans need to be valued and that is an important message that’s being demonstrated by Macarthur FC.”

Where heroes are made

There is already talk about an emerging rivalry with Western Sydney Wanderers as the clubs will share a territorial boundary, but the Bulls are setting their targets much further afield. 

“Wanderers are a great club but we’re doing our own thing,” said Deputy Chairman, Gino Mara.

“This area has a million people, it’ll go to two million people in five-to-ten years time, the biggest amount of government infrastructure is being spent out here. 

“We’ve got 12 strong NPL clubs, three of the biggest and most progressive local football associations. It ticks all of the boxes, it’s all coming together. 

“The Wanderers are a great club, they will always be a great club, but we believe we’ll build something special here. 

“Our ambition is to be one of the biggest clubs in Australia, if not Asia.”

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