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A-League expansion bids include NZ options

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/11/2016 Ben McKay and Vince Rugari

Joao Moreira of Auckland City makes a break during the ASB Premiership match between Auckland City FC and WaiBOP United at Kiwitea Street on February 28, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Joao Moreira of Auckland City makes a break during the ASB Premiership match between Auckland City FC and WaiBOP United at Kiwitea Street on February 28, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. The race is on to catch Sydney FC at the top of the A-League table, but the biggest battle in domestic football this season isn't to win the league - it's to join it.

FFA's decision to begin a formal process early in the new year for teams to enter the A-League has set the pulses racing.

As many as a dozen expansion markets exist around Australia and New Zealand, contending for what are likely to be two vacancies.

Auckland City FC are candidates, among others.

FFA bosses have opted for consolidation over the past five years, only toying with the idea of changing the line-up at crisis moments with existing teams; most notably in October last year at Wellington's expense.

But with the Phoenix's investors backing the New Zealand side for at least another three seasons after this one, the focus now is on expansion and not replacement.

A-League chief Greg O'Rourke gave a timetable for possibly two new teams in the 2018/19 competition in a statement last week.

"A framework for expansion will be completed early next year which will allow (interested consortia) to submit expressions of interest in a framework which focuses on the viability of the the proposed franchise and its ability to provide benefits to the A-League and the game," it read.

Oceania powerhouses Auckland City are beginning an exploratory process that could lead to a bid.

Chairman Ivan Vuksich told AAP the club was in the "very early days" of looking at raising the capital.

"We'd obviously like to be involved," he said.

"We've made some tentative enquiries but it's very preliminary."

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