According to a FourFourTwo Australia report, Melbourne Heart have declined the latest offer from South Melbourne FC to purchase its A-League license. The AU $7m bid was almost double the club's earlier $4m proposition.
South Melbourne are one of the heavyweight names in Australian club football and have been very active in seeking entry into the A-League since the downfall of the National Soccer League. Prior to Heart's admission into the A-League, South Melbourne sought the license for a second Melbourne club. Additionally, late in the 2012/13 season, the club was in discussions with Central Coast Mariners before the A-League championship winners worked out their own ownership issues.
With Heart averaging just 8484 fans in the 30,000-seat AAMI Park, second worst in the A-League, and frequently playing second fiddle to Melbourne Victory, a well established club with deep roots and a built-in fan base could be a viable inclusion as Melbourne's second team. South Melbourne already have their own stadium, the 15,000-seat Lake Stadium, which when full would double Heart's average attendance.
Yet Heart are unwilling to budge for a number as low as $7m. The club have built a brand in three A-League seasons, which despite a lack of overall on-field success, has provided an increasing foothold in the community. To part with the license, and eliminate the Melbourne Heart brand, the club want more.
A South Melbourne official told FourFourTwo Australia,
"We feel (Heart) think we've got more money to give them, but we're withdrawing the offer. There's not another cent on top of that."
This is certainly not the end of South Melbourne FC trying to get into the A-League, but it does seem that without a further offer in the immediate future, Melbourne Heart will remain in the league for the foreseeable future. Considering their signing of Harry Kewell and the prospect of bigger crowds at AAMI Park this season, perhaps that is a good thing, at least in the short run.