Macarthur FC chief Rabieh Krayem wants fans to know that when the season starts in October they will be part of something very special. Indeed, the club chairman and CEO believes the Bulls will be much, much more than a football club.
In a wide ranging interview with the South West Voice in Macarthur, Mr Krayem reassured fans the club had signed several players and was on track to have a full squad by the time preseason training starts on July 1.
The experienced sport administrator, pictured above, revealed that the game day experience at Campbelltown Sports Stadium would be quite something else.
Mr Krayem also said that the club was tracking ahead of projections on corporate support with more than $15 million secured for the first three years, when Wisdom Homes will be the major sponsor.
And he confirmed that eventually the entire club will be based at a brand new, $30 million sports centre of excellence in the Campbelltown campus of Western Sydney University.
This is expected to be ready in two years and in time to also house the club W-League and Youth league teams.
And finally, a heads up for the region: Macarthur FC is about to ramp up its community activities as the countdown begins to their first A-League season in October.
“We’ve got a great opportunity here as a football community that doesn’t have a team to support, and the work we do, hopefully, will earn the right for that support of Macarthur FC,’’ says Krayem
“No doubt we want to make finals football every year, but we’ve made it clear we want to be known as more than just a football club – especially in this region.
“We will be a voice for this region.
“We want to fight for the region – whether it’s to give our fans a better experience at the game or make it easier to get to the game through a better transport network, from Wollondilly or Bowral or other parts of the area.
“We’re building what I think is a football team that will impact the whole region, and the economic benefits of having a football team will piggy back off that,’’ he said.
So far the club has announced the signing of just one player, former Socceroo Tommy Oar, who is currently playing for the Central Coast Mariners.
Krayem says there are good reasons why other signings have not been made public yet.
“We’ve signed more players, we just can’t say who they are because of contractual requirements,’’ he says.
“But I can say we are on target on where we want to be, and the coaches are very happy with the progress, we’ve made.
“But you’ve got to respect players who are with other clubs here and overseas; it would not be respectful to the other clubs to make an announcement.
“The Tommy Oar one was a bit different because he and the club decided they were going to make an announcement.
“So what I say to the Macarthur fans is that we do have players, and we are very comfortable with our recruitment progress, where we are with the players.’’
Krayem says that when the Macarthur FC first grade squad assembles for its very first training run, at an A-League standard facility at the university on July 1, everything will be ready to go.
“Work is being done right now on what the preseason will be like; you don’t just turn up and say, let’s train.
“Again, we are where we want to be, and in some places we’re ahead of schedule,’’ he says.
Once the season gets under way the team will likely also have training sessions at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, below, before home games.
“As the anchor tenant at the stadium you get access to your home ground,’’ says Krayem.
And while a lot of work still remains to be done, the club CEO is confident the game day experience is something for the fans to really look forward to.
“That’s all part of the work we’re doing now; we want to ensure that when people come to Campbelltown Sports Stadium it’s not just about turning up 15 minutes before the game to watch a game of football,’’ he says.
The aim is to make sure that fans know they’re at a Macarthur FC Bulls when they walk inside the arena and take their seats.
But fans will also know they’re at a Bulls game when they arrive at the precinct, whether it’s by train, bus or car.
“And inside, it will be all about fan engagement,’’ Krayem said.
“So it’s about creating an event, 13 or 14 of them, depending on how many home games we get in our first season.
“Every time you come to that stadium, it’s an event.
“Especially because of the demographics we are in – the region we represent, we want to give people the day out.
“Give them value for the day out.
“We’ve got to cater for the kids, the mums, the dads; make a family type of environment where mum and dad may watch the football and the kids may want to do something else in the stadium – or the other way around.
“We want to create a whole family experience with the main event being the football game.’’
Krayem has held several senior positions in both football and rugby league during his career.
His most recent was as chairman of the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFCO); he was also chairman of Northern Fury FC between 2012 and 2017.
He was general manager of Cronulla Leagues Club and the first CEO of the North Queensland Cowboys in 1995.
Last year he was appointed chairman of the board at Macarthur FC, and when CEO Archie Fraser departed after just a few months into the job, Krayem stepped in as chief executive officer.
He says Macarthur FC share a lot of similarities with the Cowboys, who are based in Townsville.
“I once described Macarthur FC as being very similar to the North Queensland Cowboys when they started 25 years ago,’’ he says.
“The community feel, the business feel, the us and them mentality, we’re here, we’re not Sydney, we’re South West Sydney, we’re Macarthur, that sort of line is similar to the Cowboys when they started.
“I think if you live in this area you want things here, and I think having your own football club in your own backyard means you don’t have to go find another team, you don’t have to travel.
“We’re in a unique situation, we’ve got a region that’s very parochial – they don’t want what someone else is doing.
“We want to build a club they’re proud of, a club that’s so good it becomes a national brand.’’