FORMER Wodonga mayor Mark Byatt will lead the Border’s National Premier League soccer club in its formative years.
The new club has been officially branded Murray United FC and will enter the competition, seen as the second tier to the national A-League, next year after signing off on a licensing agreement with Football Federation Victoria.
A 12-person board is already in place and coaching positions have been advertised from today while others were looking to the corporate community to back professional teams in the men’s and women’s competition.
“The aim of the new club is not to get out and make rash signings, it is likely there will be marquee players considered for the player list,” Byatt said.
“What will sustain the club will be a very clear focus on talented locals and providing them with a chance at the elite level.
“Those that know about the game tell me that if you were to take the best 15 players from the men’s and women’s state of origin games played on Good Friday, you would have a side more than capable of matching it with any NPL club.”
"If you were to take the best 15 players from the state of origin games played on Good Friday you would have a side that was more than capable of matching it with any NPL club."
La Trobe University will be the homeground for Murray United FC for the next fi ve to 10 years.
A range of elite junior teams will underpin the fl agship senior sides.
“An opportunity to participate in the elite NPL competition is one of the most exciting things to occur in our sporting history for many, many years; and there have been some outstanding sporting triumphs overthe years across the region” Byatt said.
“NPL football (soccer) is going to provide an opportunity for our high-achieving sports men and women to compete at what is effectively the national second tier of football in this country .
“This is a football platform that hasn’t been available in the past, and Murray United FC through the NPL is determined to be a part of that.
“My job is to lead the board in establishing the club during these foundation years, setting the club up to play at an elite level for many years to come — it needs to be done right, it needs to be done professionally and we need to understand that we only get one go at doing this.”
Cr Byatt said the new club would offer a pathway to the elite competition.
“We already have some fantastic community clubs under the auspices of Albury Wodonga Football Association and they will be an integral part of the step up to playing NPL,” he said.
AWFA president Craig McDonald said the new venture added further credibility to the rise of soccer in the region.
“This offers footballers another pathway into the elite level of our sport,” he said.
PREMIER TEAM IS UP AND RUNNING
THE team behind the Border’s National Premier League’s venture yesterday said getting the name right had been a key consideration.
The first submission to Football Federation Victoria used the name Border FC but the team will be known as Murray United FC when it enters the competition next year.
Chairman of the club, formed by a group of Border enthusiasts, Mark Byatt said the idea was to connect to the Border’s footballing and non-footballing public.
“The name is something the directors have thought about a lot after looking for community input,” he said.
“Murray picks up on all things synonymous with the region — we want both sides of the Border united in this venture.
“Football Federation Victoria has made it clear this licence covers northern Victoria and the southern Riverina — we are a regional team.”
Byatt said the board was already working hard on promotional, football, facilities and sponsorship fronts.
“It’s great to lead an active and passionate board,” he said.
“Each director has a portfolio to focus on and we are working on each of these areas.
“There is a major emphasis on branding, marketing, media and PR — including club logo, colours, and both home and away strips.
“The football operations department is looking at expressions of interest for the technical director and coaching positions.
“La Trobe University will be the club’s immediate home ground.
“We will be doing infrastructure upgrades as we lead into the NPL season next year.
“The focus will be on lighting, seating and minor works to players’ facilities and security.
“In terms of sponsorship, we believe this offers unprecedented national exposure — every other week Murray United FC will be play in Melbourne.
“From that point of view, I don’t think there is another team or sport in our region that can offer that exposure.”