Rear Window
At any good party, along with the pies and sausage rolls, there’s one hushed topic of gossip that seems to keep popping up. At the AFL grand final function in the MCG’s Olympic room last weekend, muckraking centred on who would take over as GWS club president as Tony Shepherd exits the stage.
That’s because a few days earlier, a candidate to replace him used the pages of this newspaper to make his pitch. GWS deputy chairman Adrian Fonseca gave an extensive interview to AFR’s BOSS about his life and career, putting it on the record that he wanted to “put my hat in the ring”.
Outgoing GWS club president Tony Shepherd. Getty
“If I were to be chosen, it’d be a great honour and a great privilege,” the Indian-born executive said, before drawing in the region’s broader demographics.
“I think it would be a great thing for the people of western Sydney to be able to see someone from western Sydney, someone who looks like western Sydney, to be in that position. I think we could galvanise a large community.”
Fonseca was even pictured holding a Giants scarf aloft.
But doesn’t he know these things are supposed to be stitched up between powerbrokers in private? Hell, more should try it. Make Western Sydney Great Again!
The job pitch set a cat among the pigeons, spinning the spotlight onto Shepherd and the GWS board. The veteran insisted to reporters at the MCG he was “running a process”, with a board vote before the end of the month.
The problem is that the GWS Giants remains beholden to the AFL. New CEO Andrew Dillon and omni-burdened Richard Goyder even have an overriding veto over whatever name emerges from Shep’s “process”. It has become widely known the AFL’s preference to fill his shoes is fellow GWS board member and Business Council of Australia president Tim Reed. (Giving the green light to a succession spin-off just as the main storyline died down? Truly, Richard, you are spoiling us!)
Make Western Sydney Great Again! Oscar Coleman
Reed also runs private equity shop Potentia Capital, and seems keen to enter the rarefied ranks of AFL club presidents. His support base stems, partly, from being buds with Seek co-founder and AFL commissioner Paul Bassat. Powerful figures on the commission are all in for Tim.
Reed’s CV has the air of a student politician who has over-studied on how to perfectly position themselves for advancement. The dealmaker to Business Council to club president pipeline is, well, Shepherd’s precise career.
Then along comes Fonseca, with the charismatic immigrant fairytale to spoil the party. He came up through Macquarie and Deutsche Bank before founding childcare centre operator Oxanda Education. Fonseca offloaded a dozen of the centres last year and has since ploughed money into real estate.
He and his wife bought a $14.3 million palace in Sydney’s Bellevue Hill in 2018. Two months ago, the couple bought the house next door for $15.5 million.
Fonseca is also the sole director of a vehicle called Sovana, which bought an ocean-view home in nearby Tamarama for $11 million. Sovana is also listed as the owner of a $1.7 million harbour-view apartment in Edgecliff.
Then there are the estates. Fonseca snapped up a horse-friendly “resort-like” property in Duffys Forest for $14.2 million last year. Two weeks ago, he sold a 1.7-hectare property in Terrey Hills for $14.1 million, setting a record for the rural-lite suburb.
None of these properties, to be clear, is anywhere near western Sydney. But we suppose that’s the classic immigrant-made-good story arc for you.
Picking between Fonseca, Reed and anyone else is a GWS board that includes ex-Channel Seven presenter Melissa Doyle, former Brownlow medallist Jimmy Bartel, retired general Kathryn Toohey and a string of finance types including Ironbark’s Chris Larsen, PIMCO’s Marc Seidner and Steve Tucker from Koda Capital.
One unity candidate could be well-regarded current board member Nikki Warburton (the wife of Seven West Media CEO James Warburton). But she’s cool on the idea.
Meanwhile, Fonseca is absolutely chewing up the limelight. The businessman even played a starring role on season two of Amazon’s housing porn reality show Luxe Listings.
Before being shown a property that he would end up buying, pseudo-celebrity buyers’ agent Simon Cohen talks about what he “has to deliver” for Fonseca who was one of his very first clients.
Cohen’s 2IC Tammy Soglanich replied: “When Adrian wants something. Adrian gets something.”
At the AFL, wants and gets are rarely aligned.
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