4 January 2023

Dare to dream? Canberra’s aspirations of securing an A-League Men’s team gain momentum

| Tim Gavel
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Crowds watching soccer

Canberra has a proven record in attracting crowds to football games, as shown by the Asian Cup 2015 at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Canberra’s hopes of securing an A-League Men’s team have, at times, been on life support with the ACT left at the altar more than once (to mix metaphors).

Several attempts were thwarted in the past: the A-League4Canberra bid, followed by the Canberra and Capital Region A-League Bid, and now the Capital Region Football Collective.

The sad demise of the Canberra Cosmos in 2001 still stings for many.

But thanks to the perseverance of people like Michael Caggiano, it appears that Canberra is closer than ever to securing a team in the Men’s A-League.

Michael Caggiano

Michael Caggiano has kept the flag flying for an A-League team in the capital. Photo: File.

The Capital Region Football Collective, of which Caggiano is a director, confirmed that just before Christmas, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) had made an approach to open negotiations on the potential addition of Canberra to the A-League Men’s competition.

Despite this positive news, the heartbreaks of the past can’t be forgotten. It’s as if Canberra has been on trial a couple of times to test our resilience.

Who can forget back in 2009 when we were told that attendance numbers for the Asian Cup qualifier between the Socceroos and Kuwait would provide a gauge of the city’s support for an A-League team? And Canberra responded in numbers!

The Socceroos fielded a team minus all of their overseas stars. Despite that, 20,032 fans turned out at Canberra Stadium to watch the 1-nil loss to Kuwait.

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Canberra had been bidding for a licence for the 2010-2011 season, but a poor turnout for an A-League game in the city in September 2009 was seen as a major setback.

In the end, the licence went to the Western Sydney Wanderers.

There have been other false dawns, but it would appear Canberra is prominent in the eyes of those seeking to expand the A-League Men’s program in 2024.

Another factor, which can’t be underestimated, is the success and stability of the Canberra United program in the Women’s A-League.

What will be interesting is the commitment from the ACT Government with the recent GWS deal still very fresh.

And let’s not forget the initial caveat associated with building a new stadium – the proviso that Canberra has an A-League Men’s team to ensure year-round use of the ground.

Regardless of historical setbacks, there should be an A-League Men’s team in the nation’s capital. Football is the largest participation sport in Canberra by a country mile.

It would appear as though there is a genuine commitment to make this happen, but a unified front is definitely needed within the football community to bring an A-League Men’s team to fruition in Canberra.

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Good article- but soccer just doesn’t attract much interest in Australia. Good game for juniors etc. Anyway I wish them well, but I’ll stick to AFL

Dear Jack D, Yet more (to quote Johnny Warren) ‘Sheilas, Wogs, and Poofters’ rubbish from an ignoramus. So the game isn’t ‘Australian’? Funny, neither are rugby league and rugby union, both of which sports you mention. And so much for diversity and conclusion. ‘Grit’? You mean like cowardly Aussie Rulers wiping out opponents who only have eyes for the ball and don’t realise they’re about to be assaulted? ‘Sissy girls who roll around pretending to be injured’?’ You do understand that other cultures have differing values, and that what you think of as ‘sissy’ maybe regarded in other parts of the world as cunning and a way to gain an advantage and influence the ref? Again, diversity… And we’ll call football ‘football’ – you call it what you like. What a pitiful xenophobe you are.

This article is about soccer. This game isn’t even football or Australian for that matter. What a bunch of sissy girls soccer promotes, idolises and glorifies. Soccer players are a bunch of fragile sissy girls who roll around pretending to be injured at even the slightest knock. Soccer will never have a place in Australia. Give me Aussie Rules, Rugby League or Rugby Union any day over this silly game. At least our footballers have grit. Stick to supporting Aussie football in Canberra Andrew Barr!!

con michaliadis7:22 am 08 Jan 23

I’m surprised that this Pathetic comment was allowed by the Moderators

Ha ha here goes!!

Stephen Saunders7:19 pm 06 Jan 23

Would that be the same APL that sold all the grand finals to Sydney till 2025? They hate soccer fans. They’d give Cloncurry or Bunbury a men’s team ahead of Canberra.

Come in sucker! You’ve been reeled in again. There will be a second Adelaide team, a second Brisbane team, and fourth Melbourne and Sydney teams before there will ever be a Canberra/ACT team. And they will NEVER admit a Canberra/ACT team. Let’s not be the league’s perpetual soft mark.

Capital Retro10:15 am 06 Jan 23

Yawn.

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