Ante Milicic yet to sign, say West Sydney club

ANGELA HABASHY
Last updated 00:06 23/05/2012

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Melbourne Heart may have put Ante Milicic's role at the new west Sydney team in writing on Tuesday but Lyall Gorman, executive chairman of the A-League's newest franchise, insists the man himself is yet to do so.

The Heart on Tuesday released a statement announcing that Milicic, who had been overlooked for the head coaching role at the club in favour of the less-experienced John Aloisi, had accepted an assistant position under Tony Popovic at the new western Sydney outfit.

"While obviously disappointed to see Ante leave, we understand the significance of the opportunity which presented itself in helping establish a team in his home town," Heart CEO Scott Munn said.

But while an official announcement by the as-yet unnamed west Sydney club is expected in the coming days, Gorman says the Heart have jumped the gun.

"There has been no official announcement from us for one reason - and that's because he certainly hasn't signed an agreement with us at this stage," Gorman told AAP on Tuesday.

"You've seen plenty of speculation around that but I can assure you as we speak now he has not signed an agreement with us.

"He is a remarkable coach and I think he would be a perfect fit for this club but I can assure you that there is no agreement signed."

Speculation has also been rife about who will be the club's eagerly awaited first player signing and with the team's emphasis on incorporating local figures, Harry Kewell - arguably the region's biggest football export - has been thrown into the mix.

"Harry is very advanced in his discussions with Melbourne Victory and we've had no dialogue with him," Gorman said.

"We don't plan on getting into competition with Victory about his signing.

"We'll speak to any player who expresses an interest to become a part of the new west Sydney club ... and if Harry fell into that category we'd be naive not to have discussions with him."

Gorman revealed the new club had been "inundated with interest from players nationally and internationally" but fans should not expect any big names.

"We're certainly not building a club around one or two players, we're just as likely to announce an under-19 local player first as a 28-year-old experience player," Gorman said.

"We're not building our squad around a marquee player ... we won't be putting the spotlight on any one individual."

Meanwhile Newcastle on Tuesday announced a major cleanout of their board with four members - Neil Jameson, Keith Harris, Cheryl Salisbury and Joe Senkalski - moving on while Ray Baartz will retain his role as chairman.

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- AAP

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