One of the most protracted ownership handovers in Australian sport has finally been concluded with the Western Sydney Wanderers officially going into private ownership on June 30.
The new ownership consortium is headed by Primo Smallgoods boss Paul Lederer, who is expected to become the club’s chairman, Sabre Sports United director Jefferson Cheng, Pirtek founder Glenn Duncan and businessman David Slade. They will take over from Football Federation Australia, who have owned and run the club since its inception in 2012.
Lederer was 75th on the BRW Rich List in 2013 with an estimated fortune of $630 million.The sale of the A-League’s newest club has been ongoing for almost a year, with sale figures mooted between $10 million and $15 million. It is estimated the final fee is around $12 million.
The FFA asked global investment bank UBS to source a buyer for the club but FFA chairman Frank Lowy was ultimately able to sell the club to Lederer, a close family friend, with Slade also working for Lowy’s Westfield group for over 30 years. He is now a partner in the Australian branch of the UK retail outlet, Topshop-Topman.
FFA chief executive David Gallop promised the new owners would continue to strengthen the foundations frenetically built during the club’s first two years.
The Wanderers have qualified for the grand final in each of their only two seasons in the A-League. Photo: Getty Images
“The Wanderers were built for the people, by the people of western Sydney. That was the promise from day one and FFA has held true to that mission,” he said. “Like FFA before it, the new consortium understands its role as the guardians of the Wanderers. They are entrusted by the members of the club to protect and build on what has been achieved.”
Lederer promised fans that “nothing will change” in how the club connected with their ever-expanding fan base.
“The spirit of this club comes from the members, fans and the people of western Sydney. Nothing will change in that regard,” he said. “I have been a director of the club for the past two years and I’ve had the privilege to play a part and see first-hand what makes this club so special.
“The consortium has responsibility to ensure the Wanderers have a sound financial base and a strong administration so the club can continue to grow and be successful on and off the field.”
It is understood much of the hold-up in the sale has arisen from the final fee paid to outgoing executive chairman Lyall Gorman.
Upon taking his role in 2012, Gorman inserted a clause – ratified by then-FFA chief executive Ben Buckley – that allowed him to take a percentage of the final sale of the club, in addition to his salary.