Gold Coast accept A-League licence
Sydney FC has a rival as the A-League's glamour club after Australia's fourth richest man arrived by helicopter to sign Gold Coast United's licence.
Iron ore baron Clive Palmer, worth more than $1.5 billion, also flew across the country in his own jet to accept the Football Federation Australia's terms to be the competition's ninth club.
He then declared United would target an A-League crown and an Asian Champions League berth in their debut season in 2009-10, putting his financial muscle behind the quest.
Palmer said the club would have access to any of his three private jets to travel to away games and he'd open his purse strings to attract the best players in the world.
The 53-year-old, a key backer of former Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen in the failed `Joh for PM' push in the mid-1980s, has signed former Queensland Roar mentor Miron Bleiberg as coach.
Bleiberg is one of five former Roar employees involved with the Coast consortium which received the FFA's provisional approval this week for A-League inclusion.
It was Palmer's money which ensured United would become the ninth team in an expanded competition when he committed in the last month.
While 90 minutes late for his scheduled media conference, Palmer made the wait worthwhile on extravagantly arriving at United's Skilled Park home at Robina by helicopter, after a quick Coolangatta stop-off following a flight from Western Australia's Pilbara region.
Asked whether Gold Coast could replace inaugural champions Sydney FC as the competition's glamour team, the colourful businessman said: "'Gold Coast Glamour', it's not bad".
"(Glamour) certainly goes with Gold Coast better doesn't it.
"I don't think I've got any glitz or glamour," he said.
"But ... we don't have jet planes and helicopters just for the sake of looking at them.
"They will certainly be there to help the club."
Palmer immediately set the goals high by saying United would target a 2009-10 A-League crown as they attempt to make the tourist strip the "soccer capital of Australia".
"We want to win it in the first year. We're only in there to win it," he said.
"I'd say we have the people and the experience to make an impact.
"I'm confident that it will be successful because I very, very rarely get involved in things that are not a success."
The A-League salary cap stands at $1.9 million for the upcoming season, but marquee signings and guest players are exempt from the cap.
Palmer said four or five overseas stars were being considered as marquee players while Bleiberg is recommending signing "superstars" to short-term stints.
The owner suggested United would break new ground if the Coast qualified for Asia.
"When you play A-League you are limited by the salary cap but if you do make it to the Asian cup you can bring in a whole lot of other players and make Australia a force to contend with," he said.
"That hasn't happened in the past and that's one area that we think we can achieve some sort of success and bring the Gold Coast the sort of recognition it should have."
Bleiberg, to start signing players in November, believed his new club was better placed to succeed than local rivals Queensland Roar, who finished sixth in their debut season.
"Like everything in life when you do something a second or third time you do it better," he said, adding Palmer's support made life easier.
"I'm a bit embarrassed to say but like everything in life it depends on how much money you have."