Canberra’s A-League bid team and the Wollongong Wolves have signed a deal that will see the two clubs working together with the joint long-term goal of taking part in the A-League.
Wollongong Wolves were one of the two teams cut by Football Federation Australia from the A-league expansion last month but thanks to the new agreement, A-league football may still be played in Wollongong.
Should Canberra’s bid be successful in the current expansion process, Canberra will play at least one home match per season at Win Stadium in Wollongong and will also provide access to coaching resources, assistance with developing the Illawarra region’s football infrastructure and a pathway for elite junior players to professional football.
Canberra’s bid organiser Michael Caggiano said he was delighted to be working with one of Australia’s most respected football clubs.
“Wolves have a rich history of playing national league football and they deserve to be there again,” Caggiano said.
“This partnership is a natural fit, Wollongong is its own city, with its own football identity. We want to work with them not replace them. Having Wolves join the A-League would create a derby for us, and really fulfil the game’s potential in southern NSW.”
Former Socceroo and Wollongong Wolves spokesperson Luke Wilkshire said the agreement is designed to help ensure Wolves are ‘A-League ready’ for the next round of expansion.
“This agreement will help us build our juniors, our players, our club and our region,” Wilkshire said. “They are going to help us in terms of developing facilities for our juniors, which is really lacking in our region.”
Wilkshire said after speaking with Canberra’s bid team, he was impressed with the people and their strategy for developing football in the region.
“Canberra is a location we believe is beneficial to the league going forward,” he said. “The city already has a W-League team and world-class facilities, and the people involved with the bid have the right intentions for the game.
“They have a plan for football and I am impressed with their strategies around developing grassroots, football infrastructure projects, community involvement, and creating opportunities for all through football.”
Wilkshire said that the prospect of being able to host A-League matches at Win Stadium was one he would welcome.
“We wanted to be there ourselves, and we will continue working to achieve that. Until then to be able to bring a game or two each year up to Win Stadium is a great opportunity for our local football community.”
Canberra are one of six bids left in the expansion race, with a new-look Football Federation Australia board set to name two new clubs in the coming months.