Serepisos’ instinct set for success

WELLINGTON Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos is a confident man, so much so that when he decided to invest over $1 million...

WELLINGTON Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos is a confident man, so much so that when he decided to invest over $1 million to own the new Hyundai A-League football franchise it was done on a gut instinct.

The payoff has been overwhelming, the millionaire Wellington property developer says.

“I went on a gut instinct (to become franchise owner). It was done from the heart, said Serepisos.

“The highlights to date have been how much the city has embraced it. I gave football a lifeline and have given Wellington an opportunity to have a fantastic show.

“Now it-s a matter of putting it all together.”

The payoff for that generous financial act is beginning to take shape. The franchise has coach Ricki Herbert in place and in town, a superb central city venue in Westpac Stadium, a striking logo and franchise name that has the support of the city it represents.

Serepisos and his company, Century City Developments, are now the confirmed heavyweights of sporting ownership in Wellington, the Phoenix adding to Serepisos- sponsorship of the Saints basketball team and of horse racing-s prestigious Wellington Cup at Trentham.

With his attention now also turned to football, Serepisos is hoping his saving of an A-League franchise based in New Zealand will help spark a re-emergence of the code.

Serepisos saved New Zealand Soccer-s predicament at possibly losing a New Zealand A-League franchise by coming in at the 11th hour to fully fund the flagging local consortium-s bid for the sub-licence.

Serepisos- financial clout and proven business nous prompted Football Federation Australia to grant NZS a three-year licence in mid-March.

Arise Wellington Phoenix. Serepisos is determined to see the franchise be successful so that, in turn, the game nationally will recapture some lost magic of the early 1980s.

“Football has been a sleeping giant since 1982 (when New Zealand reached the World Cup finals in Spain),” Serepisos says.

“This (Phoenix) is an opportunity to resurrect it. But it-s not just up to me - it-s up to the rest of New Zealand to follow it.”

Serepisos says in his dealings with the FFA and other franchise owners have confirmed to him that there is genuine support for Phoenix to do well.

“Everybody is there as an equal. It-s like it-s one big family putting on a show together. It-s all good.”

On the field Serepisos is leaving the chasing of players to coach Herbert, though “it all comes down to me for final approval.”

Off the field progress in finding a chief executive officer is nearing completion, with Serepisos spending the past three weeks interviewing for the key position, to the point of getting down to a shortlist. The board of directors will also be announced shortly, from which a management team will be built.

Two months after coming to New Zealand football-s rescue, Serepisos says the added value in his decision to invest is evident in the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the public. Also, a range of sporting codes are excited at the prospect of top-flight football coming to Wellington for at least 10 matches a year.

The announcement from Football Federation Australia yesterday that Phoenix would play Melbourne Victory in the opening round at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, on August 26 was an added bonus in being a Sunday, 4pm kick-off - perfect for the family.

“It-s ideal for the family,” Serepisos says. “And the fact we-re playing last year-s winner - it doesn-t get much better.”