March 19, 2007

The businessman responsible for securing Wellington a Hyundai A-League licence says it is pay back for a city that has given him and his family so much and an investment in the future of New Zealand football.

Property developer and investor Terry Serepisos (pictured right) has been unveiled as the 100 percent shareholder of the unbranded Wellington franchise confirmed today to replace the defunct New Zealand Knights in Australasia's top-flight.

Licence holders New Zealand Soccer have granted Serepisos a three-year sub-licence after brokering the deal with A-League administrators Football Federation Australia.

Serepisos, Managing Director of Century City Developments, said his decision to invest in the club went deeper than a desire to promote one of Wellington's largest property investment and development companies.

"The biggest motivation is the young footballers of Wellington and New Zealand and giving them something to aspire to and role models to look up to," Serepisos said.

"My son Julian plays football [for Wellington club Olympic] along with his cousins and we go and watch them every weekend. To lose a team like this wouldn't have been good for the game in New Zealand.

"The city has also been good to me in a business sense so this is a way of giving something back to Wellington."

Serepisos, who sponsors horse racing's Wellington Cup Carnival and recently signed a deal to secure the future of the Wellington Saints in the National Basketball League, was schooled at Rongotai College at the same time as future football star Wynton Rufer.

He travelled Europe after leaving college before returning to Wellington to establish a chain of six menswear stores with a business partner before a four-year stint in the hospitality industry.

Serepisos has spent the past 15 years establishing one of Wellington's most successful commercial and residential property companies.

He intends using his extensive business experience to ensure the new Wellington franchise doesn't suffer the same fate as the former Football Kingz and NZ Knights.

"What am I going to do differently? I'm going to run it like a professional business with all the structures and mechanisms that go around that," Serepisos said.

"As far as I'm concerned bringing the A-League to Wellington allows us to start with a clean slate. I think we'll get bigger crowds than Auckland...other than the Hurricanes and Saints, what other teams do Wellingtonians have to support?

"There's also a huge football following here so the potential is good."

Serepisos said the club would now move quickly to appoint a seven to nine member board and advertise for a chief executive. They would also look to secure Commercial, Finance, Media and Marketing Managers as soon as possible.

An interim board - likely to include Wellington bid chiefs John Dow and Ian Wells as well as a NZ Soccer representative - would deal with the day-to-day setup of the club in the meantime.

Serepisos said the quick appointment of All Whites coach Ricki Herbert was a major boost for the club and a pre-requisite in him agreeing to bankroll the franchise.

"Having Ricki on board is a big inspiration for the players...I probably wouldn't have gone into it without him."

Herbert has begun the crucial recruitment process and will look to make announcements in early April after the All Whites tour to Costa Rica and Venezuela. 

Serepisos is determined to make the new Wellington club a success on and off the Westpac Stadium, confirmed today as the club's new home ground. 

"I'm confident Wellington will embrace this."


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