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A-League expansion state of play

AAP logoAAP 22/11/2016 Ben McKay and Vince Rugari

THE STATE OF PLAY FOR A-LEAGUE EXPANSION BIDS

* Tasmania

Status: Mega-wealthy former Victory investors Harry Stamoulis and Robert Belteky have already met with FFA, saying they're ready to go from next year with support from all levels of government.

Pros: A cheap stadium deal, as well as plenty of dollars and know-how from Stamoulis and Belteky.

Cons: Football is far from the top game in this AFL-mad state, with little infrastructure and growth potential in a limited market.

* Auckland

Status: Very early days to quote Auckland City's chairman Ivan Vuksich. The New Zealand powerhouse is the only realistic option for expansion across the ditch, but would require a leap of faith from FFA.

Pros: Successful football pedigree, the chance for a Kiwi derby and weekly A-League content in New Zealand, a strong catchment of 1.5 million.

Cons: Questions of commitment. From the club, FFA, NZ Football and potential investors.

* Canberra

Status: Up in the air. Governing body Capital Football isn't bidding and previous A-League aspirant investor Ivan Slavich is currently backing Central Coast's two-game deal in the nation's capital.

Pros: Solid stadium, junior numbers and lack of competition in one of Australia's richest, if smaller, cities.

Cons: FFA isn't keen. David Gallop pointedly rebuked the city's A-League aspirations around the time it hosted an A-League qualifer last year.

* South Melbourne

Status: Ready to go, so they say. The powerhouse NSL club has been working to join the A-League since the day it was overlooked for the league and will mount a solid case.

Pros: History and the chance to heal the ongoing rift between "new football" and "old soccer". A solid stadium deal and long-term lease. History of success.

Cons: Does Melbourne need another team with City's attendances so low? Would Victory fight their admission?

* Geelong

Status: Interested groups are getting organised but a Geelong bid is still in the embryonic stages.

Pros: There's room in Victoria for another team, and state and local government are likely to offer support. Geelong is a sports town with a record of producing Socceroos.

Cons: Simonds Stadium might have narrow boundaries but it's ultimately not a venue suitable for football. Questions over support base.

* Brisbane Strikers

Status: The former NSL champions have assembled a bid team, headed by the colourful Miron Bleiberg, and will soon submit a formal bid to FFA.

Pros: A strong brand, an existing structure, a successful academy and a ready-made rivalry with Brisbane Roar.

Cons: Venue. If the Strikers can't find somewhere to play other than Suncorp Stadium, they'll struggle for a point of difference with the Roar.

* South Sydney

Status: They were nearly ready to replace Wellington Phoenix last season, and the murmurs are continuing that FFA wants a third team in Sydney.

Pros: Sydney's big enough for three teams, right? FFA's number crunchers have determined the south is an untapped market, with a big participation base.

Cons: Sydney FC are dead against it, as one third of their members come from the shire, while Wollongong wants a standalone team.

* Wollongong

Status: The Wolves say they will have a look at FFA's expansion criteria once it's released, but they could have some high-powered backers lined up.

Pros: The Illawarra, a bit like the Hunter, is a true football region. WIN Stadium would be perfect.

Cons: Forces outside of their control seem to prefer a southern Sydney team, based part-time in Wollongong.

* Adelaide

Status: Adelaide City and West Adelaide, two former NSL stalwarts, have made noises about an A-League bid.

Pros: Both are historic clubs who figure the Reds could do with a derby rival. Wests want Robbie Fowler as their inaugural coach.

Cons: Does little old Adelaide really have room for two teams? Who's not supporting Adelaide United in SA?

* Perth

Status: Football West is aiming for a second Perth team in the next three to five years in an audacious bid to turbo-charge the game in WA.

Pros: Perth's a growing city and numbers would suggest not everyone is on board with the Glory, for whatever reason.

Cons: The Glory are just getting settled off-field and a rival team would chew into their market at an inopportune time.

* Not happening

North Queensland: The Northern Fury say they won't be ready for this round of expansion, and the Hong Kong casino mogul backers of Cairns-based FNQ Heat have seemingly moved on.

Gold Coast: There is a desire from some parties to revive Gold Coast's A-League presence but no action at this stage. Maybe one day.

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