Sydney FC

Sydney FC
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Full nameSydney Football Club
GroundSydney Football Stadium,
Chairman George Perry
Coach Branko Čulina
2006–074th (final)
4th (league)
Home colours
Away colours

Sydney FC, founded in 2004, is an Australian football (soccer) club based in Sydney and competes in Australia's premier competition, the A-League. Sydney FC won the inaugural A-League Championship in 2005–06 by defeating the Central Coast Mariners 1-0 in the Grand Final. After winning the 2004–05 Oceania Club Championship, Sydney FC competed in and finished fifth (of six teams) in the 2005 FIFA Club World Championship in December 2005. As inaugural A-League Champions, Sydney FC also competed in the 2007 AFC Champions League. It finished 2nd in its group behind Japanese giants Urawa Red Diamonds.

Its home ground is Sydney Football Stadium, a 45,500 seat multi-use venue[1] in the suburb of Moore Park. Sydney FC quickly gained a reputation as the "glamour club" of the new competition,[2] due to the club's high-profile personnel, including investor and actor Anthony LaPaglia, ex-Manchester United star Dwight Yorke as the team's first "marquee player" and 1990 FIFA World Cup winner Pierre Littbarski as manager in the first season. [3]



The first steps towards the foundation of Sydney FC were taken in April 2004 when Soccer New South Wales (now Football NSW) announced their intention to bid for a licence in the new Australian football competition.[4] The bid was lodged with the Australian Soccer Association (now Football Federation Australia) on July 19, challenged only by a consortium headed by Nick Politis, known as the "Sydney Blues",[5] for Sydney's place in the 'one team per city' competition.[6] A public row broke out between the two bidders after reports that the ASA were set to vote in favour of Sydney FC,[7] causing Politis to withdraw his support for a team,[8] and leaving Sydney FC as the only candidate remaining.
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The "Cove" supporters at Sydney Football Stadium
Sydney was officially launched as a member of the new 8-team A-League on November 1, 2004, with a 25% stake in the club held by Soccer NSW, the remainder privately owned.[9] Walter Bugno was announced as the inaugural chairman of the club.

By February 2005, Sydney had filled 16 of their allowed 20 squad positions – attracting Socceroos Clint Bolton, Steve Corica and David Zdrilic as well as youth internationals Justin Pasfield, Mark Milligan, Wade Oostendorp, Iain Fyfe and Jacob Timpano.[10] German Pierre Littbarski was signed as Head Coach, to be assisted by former Norwich City player Ian Crook. Sydney FC played its first ever match against Manly United FC on March 25, 2005, winning 6-1.[11] Shortly after, Sydney set off on a tour to the United Arab Emirates to play matches against local teams FC Hatta, Al Ain FC and Al Jazira, winning all three.[12][13][14] Whilst in Dubai, Sydney FC announced that they had agreed to terms with former Manchester United player Dwight Yorke to join Sydney as their "marquee player" – one paid outside of the $1.5 million salary cap – for two seasons.[15]


Sydney FC's first competitive match was held against Queensland Roar at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford as part of an Australian qualifying tournament to enter the 2005 Oceania Club Championship. After winning the match 3-0, Sydney went on to defeat Perth Glory and the Central Coast Mariners to win their first piece of silverware and qualify for the Oceania Club Championship, to be held in Tahiti. Despite an early scare against New Zealand club Auckland City FC,[16] Sydney won all of their matches in the competition and qualified for the 2005 FIFA Club World Championship in Japan. The start of the 2005 Pre-Season Cup marked Sydney FC's first match at Sydney Football Stadium, as well as Dwight Yorke's first appearance for the club – Yorke scoring the first goal of Sydney's 3-1 win which stretched their unbeaten run to 9 competitive matches (15 including friendlies). Upon reaching the semi-finals, Sydney's unbeaten run finally ended at 11 with Perth Glory midfielder Nick Ward scoring in injury time to inflict the new club's first ever loss.[17]

Club World Championship 2005

In December 2005, Sydney FC competed in the 2005 FIFA Club World Championship as the Oceania Football Confederation's entry to the tournament following their 2004-05 Oceania Club Championships success in June. On December 12, in front of a crowd of over 28,000 at Japan's Toyota Stadium, Sydney FC narrowly lost to Costa Rican champions Deportivo Saprissa 1-0, denying the club a semi–final match against European champion Liverpool. Four days later, Sydney FC defeated the African "Club of the Century" Al-Ahly 2–1 to finish the competition in fifth place.

League 2005-06

Sydney FC entered the inaugural A-League season as heavy favourites for the title,[18] and hosted their first league match against Melbourne Victory on August 28, 2005. This event drew a then-record crowd for a regular season match in Australia. The stated figure was 25,208, though this is likely to be an underestimation of the true crowd size as the number of people who 'walked up' to the game meant that ticket sellers at the gate were unable to cope. For only the second time in the history of the SCG Trust (the operators of Sydney Football Stadium), the gates were opened twenty minutes after the game had started, permitting around two–thousand fans to enter for free.

At the conclusion of the twenty–one game regular season, Sydney FC finished in second place, seven points behind Adelaide United. However, in the Major Semi–Final they defeated Adelaide 4–3 on aggregate, ensuring a home Grand Final which produced a sell–out crowd of 41,689 (above the stated capacity of Sydney Football Stadium) against the Central Coast Mariners on March 5, 2006. Sydney won the match 1–0 after Dwight Yorke set up Steve Corica for the deciding goal.

After the first season, coach Pierre Littbarski left the club following a dispute over his contract which involved a significant pay cut from his reported $700,000 first year salary. [19] [20] He was replaced by former England international and Motherwell manager Terry Butcher on May 17, 2006. [21] During the 2006 off-season, Sydney FC recruited Ruben Zadkovich (previously on a short-term contract with Sydney FC), Alex Brosque (Queensland Roar) and Jeremy Brockie (New Zealand Knights).

League 2006-07

The second season of the Hyundai A-league ("dubbed Version 2.0") was ultimately an unsuccessful and disappointing season for the defending champions. The club's administration had spent far more than it had earnt over the course of the past two years, and subsequent budget cutbacks included the sale of marquee forward Dwight Yorke, a significantly reduced advertising campaign, and the loss of German coach Pierre Littbarski. The team's displays on the field were widely reported by Australian sports media to have ranged from showing glimpses of strong form to marked disappointment[22], and no real challenge for the premiership was mounted.

The off-field administration of the club came under equally heavy criticism. There were disruptions and disagreements within the club's controlling board, and disruptions in the dressing room involving several senior players and coach Terry Butcher. Amongst many other unfortunate events, the club was fined AU$129,000 and three competition points for an alleged salary cap breach involving David Zdrillic[23]. The Sydney FC squad also suffered through remarkably bad fortune with regards to injuries; at one point, only thirteen players were fit & available on the team sheet, including regular second-choice keeper Justin Pasfield [24]. All of this amounted to disappointing attendances, ugly displays of football from what were previously regarded as a good team to watch and relatively poor performances.

Eventually, Sydney progressed to the finals series only by way of a hard fought draw against the Queensland Roar in the final match of the regular season[25]. The Newcastle Jets were drawn as the team's initial play-off opponents in the final series. Sydney Won the first leg 2-1 at home but lost the second leg 0-2 away and they were ultimately defeated by the Jets 3-2 over the course the two (home and away) legs.

Asian Champions League 2007

On November 22 2006, Sydney FC and Adelaide United, as 2005-06 Champions and Premiers, were nominated as the first clubs to represent the Australia in the AFC Champions League 2007. Expectations were low for Sydney after a troubled season, many key players left the club at seasons end and coach Terry Butcher was replaced by former NSL coach Branko Culina. Culina named a revamped 21-man squad and in their opening game on March 7 2007 had 2-1 away win over Shanghai Shenhua with Ufuk Talay scoring a thunderous goal outside of the 18 yard box. That result was followed up with a 2-2 draw at home against Japanese club Urawa Reds after being up 2-0 in front of 21,010 - a bigger home crowd than had attended any of the last season's regular matches[26]. However they struggled against Indonesian side Persik Kediri in a game delayed by a day after near monsoonal rain, losing 2-1 and showing their lack of match fitness against a better than expected Persik side.

Despite minor setbacks due to the suspension of David Carney and Ruben Zadkovich, Sydney FC revenged the loss a fortnight later on ANZAC Day facing Persik at Parramatta Stadium in Western Sydney (Sydney Football Stadium being unavailable due to the scheduling of the annual ANZAC Day rugby league match between the Sydney Roosters and the St George-Illawarra Dragons). Although Sydney started slowly during a tight first half, they were eventually able to open the game up and win the match 3-0 via two goals from Steve Corica, producing an outstanding performance from midfield, and another to forward Alex Brosque[27].

On 9 May 2007, Sydney FC returned to Sydney Football Stadium to face Shanghai Shenhua. The match was a spiteful affair with questionable tactics and playacting employed by the Chinese club to disrupt Sydney's momentum throughout the match. Although Sydney FC dominated for most of the match, it was unable to capitalise on its opportunities, including a missed penalty by Ufuk Talay and squandering a plethora of chances. The match eventually finished in a stalemate with a scoreline of 0-0. The draw would prove to be somewhat costly as a victory would have enabled Sydney FC to leapfrog into the top position in their group as Persik and Urawa played out a 3-3 draw in Surakarta in Indonesia earlier that afternoon.

A fortnight later, Sydney played its final game in the group stage away to Urawa Red Diamonds. Sydney was one point behind Urawa in their group ladder, faced with needing to win in order to progress. Sydney were unable to capitalise on good ball possession, the match ended 0-0 and thus ended Sydney's Asian Champions League campaign.

League 2007-08

The Los Angeles Galaxy have scheduled one-off exhibition match against Sydney FC at Sydney's Telstra Stadium on November 27 though the match will be postponed if David Beckham is unavailable for the match. [28]

On August 5, David Carney was transferred for AU$125,000 to English Championship side, Sheffield United. The former Sydney player signed a three year deal with the club which has been reported to earn him around AU$1.25 million a year. [29]

New players including former Socceroos regular Tony Popovic and former LA Galaxy Attackng Midfielder, Michael Enfield have signed with Sydney for the upcoming season. On August 3 2007 Brazilian international Juninho Paulista, formerly of Celtic and Middlesbrough, signed with Sydney FC as their marquee player.[30] Sydney have also announced the signings of youth players Ben Vidaic and Adam Biddle.

Former Socceroos Tony Popovic has been named the new skipper alongside current Socceroos Mark Milligan as vice-captain for the coming 2007-08 season. [31]


Sydney FC play their home matches at Sydney Football Stadium. Chosen for its easy access, with shuttle buses running from nearby Central Station on match days, it has been the venue for several Australian international matches (notably the 1993 World Cup Qualifier against Argentina). The stadium's capacity was stated at 41,159 prior to the 2007 renovations. It is interesting to note that the attendance of the 2006 A-League grand final exceeded this number by over 500. Currently Sydney Football Stadium's capacity is 45,500.

Media reports during the 2006 off-season suggested that the club was considering moving its home games to Telstra Stadium due to the cost of operating at Sydney Football Stadium, reported at $110,000 per game. [32] It has also been speculated that Hollywood Actor and Sydney FC shareholder Anthony LaPaglia, along with fellow Actor and Co-owner of the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League Club , Russell Crowe have been in preliminary discussions about the possible construction of a rectangular 25,000 seat stadium to house both teams in their respective seasons for competitive matches as well as for training purposes. LaPaglia has stated that he has not discussed this proposal with the Sydney FC board. [33] Therefore, Sydney Football Stadium will remain Sydney FC's home venue for the near future.


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The Cove coat of arms

In the inaugural A-League season Sydney FC averaged an attendance of 19,647 (16,668 during the regular season) which was, at that time, a record for an association football club in an Australian national league.

The most vocal supporters sit at the northern end, around Bay 23 of Sydney Football Stadium, and are known as "The Cove". The term came from the original name given to the settlement of Sydney — Sydney Cove. This settlement was located on the piece of land that is now the Circular Quay ferry terminal. Most Cove members attend every home match while a smaller group travel around the country to support the team at away matches. They sing football/Sydney FC chants, wear club colours (sky blue in particular), wave banners and flags and generally try to help lift the team and demonstrate fervent support. Some members make unofficial Cove merchandise such as scarves, flags, banners, patches and clothing to distribute or sell.

On July 7, 2006, Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes recorded a club song entitled 'Sydney FC For Me' with 25 members of The Cove singing back-up vocals.[34] It was released prior to the start of the 2006–07 season.


Melbourne Victory are considered Sydney FC's major rivals. Melbourne and Sydney are Australia's two largest cities. Matches between the two teams are regularly controversial and bitter encounters.

However, Sydney FC also has rivalries with several other A-League teams for various reasons.

Adelaide United- The two strongest teams in the first season have continued their rivalry. There has only been one game between the two sides decided by more than one goal.

Central Coast Mariners- A local derby, with easy travel between Sydney and the Central Coast. The grand finalists from the first season.


As of 18 October, 2007.

Current squad

No. Position Player

1GKClint Bolton
2DFIain Fyfe
3DFNikolas Tsattalios (youth)
4DFMark Rudan
6DFTony Popović (captain)
7MFRobbie Middleby
8MFRuben Zadkovich
9FWDavid Zdrilić
10MFSteve Corica
11FWBrendon Santalab
12FWPatrick da Silva
13FWBen Vidaic (youth)
No. Position Player

14FWAlex Brosque
15MFTerry McFlynn
16DFMark Milligan (vice-captain)
17DFJacob Timpano
18FWAdam Casey
19FWMichael Enfield
20GKIvan Necevski
21MFAdam Biddle (youth)
22MFJuninho Paulista (marquee)
23MFUfuk Talay
28FWMichael Bridges

Notable Former Players

For more details on this topic, see List of Sydney FC players.



: 2005 - Champions
2007 - Group Stage 2005 - 5th




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