Sale of Melbourne Heart nearing completion

Darrian Traynor

The owner of Melbourne Storm is bidding to be the newest A-League owner at Melbourne Heart.

Major Australian media outlets have been reporting the impending sale of Melbourne Heart FC to Kiwi businessman Bart Campbell, who also owns Rugby League side Melbourne Storm. Over the past week, The Australian, the Herald Sun and The Age have all produced articles reporting and commenting on the sale of the club, which has not yet been completed. While other numbers have been bandied about, at the moment the deal is said to be for AU$12m and a complete takeover.

On the park, things have obviously not been going well for the Heart this season while pressure builds on manager John Aloisi. One line of thinking suggests that the only reason Aloisi has not yet been sacked is because of the ongoing negotiations to offload the surprisingly profitable club.

There have been repeated reports over the past two years about offers for Heart, including a prominent one from South Melbourne FC and a more recent Chinese businessman who offered to take the club off the board's hands. While the current reports are making the negotiations with Campbell public, the story of the transfer of ownership of Heart is likely far from over.

Michael Lynch, of The Age, clearly explains why Heart are a worthwhile investment for an incoming ownership group, from the above-linked article:

"Whereas most of the other disposals of A-League clubs have been fire sales - where investors have come in to rescue ailing businesses loaded with debt and losses and paid little for the privilege - Heart has created something of genuine value.

Hard-headed businessmen with a lot of experience in the sports world are prepared to shell out far more than has been spent on any other A-League franchise for a team that, on performance alone this season, looks something of a dud.

Why? Because there is genuine upside here if they can revamp the business and, to all intents and purposes, relaunch it.

On the pitch is perhaps the easiest to solve. The A-League is a tightly regulated competition with restrictions on salary cap, number of players and overseas signings.

Teams have a history of yo-yoing up and down the table, so bringing on-field improvement should not be a massive problem."

At this point, a finalization of the sale will likely not take place until 2014, at which point Heart could be approaching twenty games without a win.

UPDATEMelbourne Heart released a statement on Saturday denying a sale has been completed but confirming that negotiations have been ongoing for four months.

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