Could we see Harry Kewell back in the A-League?
Could we see Harry Kewell back in the A-League?

The 15 clubs battling for A-League expansion spots

AT least 15 A-League hopefuls are vying to join the A-League, with leading soccer figures declaring large-scale expansion would inject "billions" into Australian soccer.

Northern Territory is the only state/territory not represented come the first expansion deadline (Expression of Interest) on Thursday.

Multiple bids are coming from Victoria, NSW and Queensland, while Canberra, Tasmania, Fremantle and Adelaide clubs/consortiums are making submissions, as calls grow louder for a professional second division.

Football Federation Australia vowed to announce two new expansion clubs for 2019-20 by October 31, but A-League clubs have urged the governing body to consult with them amid the FIFA governance cloud still hanging over the game.

A-League chief Greg O'Rourke confirmed the mass expansion interest.

"With the EOI deadline looming on the 24th, we can confirm that we have had 15 registrations already which represent every state or territory in Australia except the Northern Territory. We look forward to progressing to our formal RFP stage with the knowledge that the demand for an expansion licence is strong," O'Rourke said.

The players' union chief executive John Didulica declared that calculated expansion could transform the game into a "billion-dollar" industry.

"Expanding our professional footprint would create opportunities for footballers, coaches and administrators, whilst creating a platform for communities throughout Australia who aspire to be represented by an elite football club. Without doing so, it'll become increasingly challenging to be internationally competitive," Didulica said.

"Building a professional footprint capable of achieving these objectives over the next decade through A-League expansion and a second tier of competition is probably a billion-dollar investment by the industry."

A-League clubs' (APFCA) chairman Greg Griffin said they were eager to expand aggressively.

"

We support expansion. Ideally, within 4-5 years we want to see the competition run independently with 16 teams,'' Griffin said.

 

Brisbane Strikers have pulled out of the expansion race.
Brisbane Strikers have pulled out of the expansion race.

 

"The current process we're not supportive of simply because they haven't been consulted with us in any meaningful way. With likely changes to the (FFA) Congress, it's inappropriate to award new licenses when the landscape of the game could be entirely different in November 2018.

"We want expansion but we want to ensure they're in the right place and right location - good for A-League, works for existing clubs and financial terms are for the benefit of A-League and not FFA revenues.

"The general feeling amongst clubs is that the next two expansion teams will most likely be located somewhere in Sydney and Melbourne.

"The second division is absolutely in play."

FFA EXPANSION TIMELINES

EOI submission due - 24 May 2018

Confirmation of short-listed bidders - June 2018

Release of Request for Proposal - 11 June 2018

Deadline for submission of proposals - 31 August 2018

Announcement - 31 October 2018

 

THE CONTENDERS

VICTORIA

"TEAM 11" (SOUTH-EAST VICTORIA)

Population: 1,500,000

Stadium: New stadium next to Dandenong Station (Casey Fields training base)

Products: Vince Grella, Eugene Galekovic, Jackson Irvine, Bailey Wright, Scott McDonald

Dream signing: Jackson Irvine

Shrewd signing: Scott McDonald

Ideal coach: Harry Kewell/Ante Milicic

Local councils (Greater Dandenong, Casey, Cardinia Shire), local businesses.

A clear geographic divide from Victory and City plus a massive football supporter/player base to work with in a region deprived of a professional club.

 

Former Socceroo Vince Grella, centre, with the design of the proposed Dandenong Stadium.
Former Socceroo Vince Grella, centre, with the design of the proposed Dandenong Stadium.

 

SOUTH MELBOURNE

Membership: 9100

Stadium: Lakeside Stadium (12,000)

Products: Ange Postecoglou, Paul Trimboli, Con Boutsianis, George Christopoulos

Dream signing: Andreas Samaris

Shrewd signing: Georgios Samaras

Ideal coach: John Anastasiadis

The four-time NSL champions are eager to return to the national stage and have made some serious noise for the past two years. Lakeside Stadium is a picturesque home.

 

 

 

WESTERN MELBOURNE

Population: 1,000,000

Stadium: Proposed new 15,000-seat stadium in Wyndham

Products: Josip Skoko, Mathew Leckie, Matthew Spiranovic, Steve Horvat

Dream signing: Matthew Spiranovic

Shrewd signing: Adrian Leijer

Ideal coach: Josip Skoko

Repositioned as a western Melbourne club after emanating as a Geelong-based bid. A newly built stadium will be the cornerstone in this fast growing corridor.

 

 

BELGRAVIA LEISURE

Population: 4,000,000 (Melbourne)

Stadium: TBC

Former Melbourne Victory chairman Geoff Lord, who was linked to Wollongong Wolves, is believed to be launching an 11th hour bid from Melbourne.

 

Could we see Harry Kewell back in the A-League?
Could we see Harry Kewell back in the A-League?

TASMANIA

Population: 520,000

Stadium: North Hobart Oval (18,000)

Dream signing: Tim Cahill

Shrewd signing: Nathaniel Atkinson

Ideal coach: Harry Kewell

Bankrolled by former Victory shareholders Robert Belteky and Harry Stamoulis, the Tasmania bid has government support amid the AFL's reluctance to enter.

 

 

NSW

SOUTH-WEST SYDNEY (LIVERPOOL)

Population: 550,000

Stadium: TBC

Dream signing: Mario Balotelli

Shrewd signing: Mile Jedinak

Ideal coach: Ante Milicic/Mark Rudan

An exclusively local-based consortium, which is negotiating to buy a share in Wellington Phoenix, with financial backing and headed by Gino Marra.

 

MACARTHUR BID (CAMPBELLTOWN)

Population: 550,000

Stadium: Campbelltown Sports Ground (20,000)

Dream signing: Fernando Torres

Shrewd signing: Tomi Juric

Ideal coach: Ante Milicic/Mark Rudan

Although a slight geographic divide from the above bid, a merger appears logical. Backed by billionaire property developer Lang Walker, with Socceroos great Brett Emerton joining as ambassador.

 

SOUTHERN EXPANSION (SUTHERLAND-ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA)

Population: 750,000

Stadium: Shark Park (22,000), Jubilee Oval Kogarah (20,000), WIN Stadium Wollongong (23,000)

Dream signing: Andres Iniesta

Shrewd signing: Daniel Arzani

Ideal coach: Harry Kewell

Former Socceroo Craig Foster and ex-NSW premier Morris Iemma headline the group backed by Hong Kong-listed investors, Jiayuan property group, who want to build their own stadium.

 

WOLLONGONG WOLVES

Population: 320,000

Stadium: WIN Stadium (23,000)

Dream signing: Adam Federici

Shrewd signing: Luke Wilkshire

Ideal coach: Nick Theodorakopoulos

The former NSL champions are in the midst of a turf war with Southern Expansion over the Illawarra region. But the crowds have showed up for FFA Cup games.

 

ACT

CANBERRA

Population: 400,000

Stadium: Canberra Stadium (25,000)

Dream signing: Tom Rogic

Shrewd signing: Keisuke Honda

Ideal coach: Josip Simunic

Launching a late bid, and believed to have private Canberra-based backers. Many hold the view that Australia's capital should have A-League representation.

 

QUEENSLAND

BRISBANE CITY

Membership: 2000

Stadium: Ballymore Stadium (19,000 - needs to be redeveloped)

Dream signing: Gianluigi Buffon

Shrewd signing: Kenny Dougall

Ideal coach: Thomas Broich

Led by well-connected former politician Robert Cavallucci, Brisbane City has claims to being the strongest bid from Queensland, although much hinges on a Ballymore redevelopment.

 

F.C Brisbane City Gladiators bid chairman Rob Cavallucci.
F.C Brisbane City Gladiators bid chairman Rob Cavallucci.

 

GOLD COAST UNITED

Membership: 1200

Stadium: Robina Stadium (27,000 capacity)

Dream signing: Tommy Oar

Shrewd signing: Michael Thwaite

Ideal coach: Paul Okon

Remnants of the defunct Gold Coast United, although it has nothing to do with Clive Palmer. Same colours, similar logo and a core of fans who want to return to the A-League.

 

WESTERN PRIDE/IPSWICH

Membership: 1400

Stadium: Revamped North Ipswich Reserve (currently 5000 capacity)

Dream signing: Neil Kilkenny

Shrewd signing: Dylan Wenzel-Halls

Ideal coach: Mike Mulvey

Queensland's reigning NPL champions, who went quiet amid a local political scandal, but they made be launching an 11th hour bid backed by foreign investors.

 

WA

FREMANTLE

Population: 40,000 / Members: 1100

Stadium: nib Stadium (20,500)

Dream signing: Gianluigi Buffon

Shrewd signing: Brad Jones

Ideal coach: Fabio Capello

Fremantle would create a geographic divide and the new Perth Stadium (to be completed in 2018) will be ideal for derbies. Long-term they would look at redeveloping Fremantle Oval.

 

SA

ADELAIDE II

Population: 1.3 million

Stadium: Coopers Stadium (15,000)

Dream signing: Andres Iniesta

Shrewd signing: Franck Ribery

Ideal coach: Aurelio Vidmar

West Adelaide has submitted a bid, with fellow former NSL club Adelaide City keen to pursue a spot in the second division.



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