Australian consortium in talks to turn Prague’s ‘kangaroos’ into European power

Bohemian Praha kangaroo mascot.Credit:Facebook

An information note on the sale plan, seen by the Herald, speaks of a “perfect link between upholding the proud traditions of the club, continuing to build the history shared between the Bohemians and Australia and creating a wise investment opportunity in football that can help Bohemians to become regulars on the European scene. ”

The Bohemians have not qualified for European competition for 33 years. Their most famous player – and current president – is Antonin Panenka, the man who invented the cheeky penalty technique of the same name.

But with two UEFA Champions League qualifying places available in the Czech Republic each season – and only two historically strong clubs, city rivals Slavia Prague and Sparta Prague – the consortium believes it can use both human and financial resources. of Australian football to turn the Bohemians into a regular candidate.

In turn, they also believe they can unlock the hidden value of Australian players in the transfer market, with the Czech Republic having sold nearly $ 100million worth of talent to bigger European clubs in recent years.

The Bohemians also run their own 5,000-seat stadium in the heart of Prague and a training center that could become a home for the Socceroos, Matildas and other Australian national teams in one of the most popular tourist destinations. popular in the world – an idea which, according to some sources, was submitted to Football Australia.

The concept of an Australian owned and controlled club in Europe is not new. A separate investor group tried it with England club Charlton Athletic several years ago but failed to secure its buyout across the line, while Popovic’s recent sacking at the Greek second division club Xanthi FC, which was bought by Sydney businessman Bill Papas last year, does. not a good omen for their plans to become a “nursery” of Socceroos.

The Bohemians Praha team on tour in Australia in 1927.

The Bohemians Praha team on tour in Australia in 1927.

What sets the Bohemians apart is an existing historical bond with Australia, which remains an intrinsic part of the club’s identity. Early last year, as the bushfires grabbed headlines around the world, the Bohemians responded by encouraging fans to donate to a wildlife rescue fund.

Seven years ago, a group of Bohemian supporters took to the skies to retrace the famous footsteps of the team that accepted overtures from Australian football officials, who wanted a European team to come to the country to help spread the gospel of sport.

Bohemian wallaby logo.

Bohemian wallaby logo.Credit:Getty

The club was known at the time as AFK Vrsovice, but changed its name to Bohemians, a reference to the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, to make it easier for Australians to speak out – although the media did generally called “the Czechoslovak team”. as he traveled across the country, stopping in all the major capitals and even Wagga Wagga, Woonona and Cessnock for matches against local teams.

The two wallabies – who inspired the team’s nickname Klokani, the Czech term for kangaroos – were then donated to the Prague Zoo. One is apparently taxidermized and on display at the team stadium, and legend has it that their descendants still live at the zoo to this day.

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