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A-L expansion criteria ready in New Year

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/11/2016 Vince Rugari

Football Federation Australia will end the uncertainty surrounding expansion of the A-League by formalising clear criteria early next year for interested bidders.

A FFA spokesperson confirmed the governing body was finalising a 'framework' to allow it to properly assess applications from new teams.

The framework will focus on two aspects - the financial viability of the proposed club, and the club's capacity to provide "benefits" to the A-League and the sport at large.

It comes after former National Soccer League champions South Melbourne became the latest entity to publicly signal their interest, joining the likes of Brisbane Strikers and Tasmania, both of whom have already made contact with FFA.

"As has been previously announced, Football Federation Australia is currently developing plans to expand the Hyundai A-League," a FFA spokesperson said.

"FFA can confirm it has received a number of enquiries from consortia interested in FFA's expansion plans for the Hyundai A-League.

"At this stage, FFA have advised any interested parties who have made contact that a framework for expansion will be completed early next year, which will allow them to submit expressions of interest in a framework which focuses on the viability of the proposed franchise and its ability to provide benefits to the A-League and the game."

FFA last week met former Melbourne Victory shareholders Harry Stamoulis and Robert Belteky, who are behind the Tasmanian bid.

However, FFA holds concerns over whether Tasmania is appealing enough to broadcasters and if their proposed home ground, North Hobart Oval, is adequate.

Both Tasmania and South Melbourne say they are ready to enter the competition next season, but it's believed expansion is unlikely to begin until season 2018-19 at the earliest.

FFA chief executive David Gallop has repeatedly used the phrase "fish where the fish are" regarding expansion, suggesting teams in capital cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will be favoured.

However, A-League chief Greg O'Rourke says regional areas will not be discounted entirely.

"What we've said publicly about fishing where the fish are is absolutely still our first lens to see things through," he told FourFourTwo.

"However, having said that, there are a number of bids that will no doubt come from (small) communities who are looking for a football team to actually build pride in their community.

"(If) they can back it up financially and it's sustainable, we will be listening."

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