15 March 2023

Has Canberra really secured an A-League Men’s team? Not yet we haven't (but damn, we're close)

| Tim Gavel
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Michael Caggiano: Canberra’s A-League Men’s inclusion is not a formality, but it’s as close to that as possible. Photo: File.

Australian Professional League’s CEO Danny Townsend was part of a telephone hookup with media organisations on Tuesday (14 March) to provide an update on plans to expand the A-League Men’s competition.

We were told that Canberra and Auckland had been identified as sites for expansion following an assessment of 11 potential markets.

The APL, which controls the A-League Men’s and Women’s leagues, is looking to expand the competition by two teams beginning in season 2024/25.

Given Canberra has been identified as one of the two centres to secure an A-League Men’s license, I asked Danny Townsend whether Canberra’s inclusion was a fait accompli.

In other words, was Canberra over the line and will it definitely be awarded a licence?

He said it was not a formality, but suggested that it was as close to that as possible.

READ MORE Canberra closer than ever to securing an A-League Men’s team

What needs to happen before it’s a formality is the securing of investment in the Canberra team.

Mr Townsend said there was a nominal deadline of June to have everything in place, including a stadium deal. That’s not necessarily a new stadium, just a ‘stadium deal’.

Former Canberra A-League bid leader, Michael Caggiano, is extremely optimistic that investors are ready to come on board.

In fact, potential investors may be even more encouraged to do so now that Canberra is in the box seat to secure a licence.

“My team and I have secured top-level investors for a club in Canberra on multiple occasions in the past and I am confident we can do it again. On those occasions, the timing wasn’t right, but with APL Co now in charge and committed to Canberra, we have never been better placed,” says Caggiano.

Michael Caggiano’s optimism is contagious, and it is one of the main reasons why Canberra is almost there.

Another reason the optimism is high is the direct involvement of the Australian Professional Leagues in the process.

This has not been the case in the past.

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The APL said it would also be looking to take over the running of the Canberra United women’s team, which makes sense to have both the men’s and women’s A-League teams under the same management.

Apart from the requirement to secure significant investors in the Canberra team, there is further reason to be cautiously optimistic.

The four previous failed attempts to join the A-League can’t be forgotten.

I well remember being told that Canberra was over the line before the licence went to a second Sydney team.

We were also told that the city needed a much larger population to justify having an A-League Men’s team.

I was also a supporter of the Cosmos, and we all know how that went down.

But this time, there is a completely different feel. There appears to be an even stronger commitment from the community.

This has been largely driven by Caggiano and his team, which has reinvigorated support for the code.

Says Caggiano: “This needs to be a team for the people of Canberra, built by people from Canberra. And the community and stakeholders here will be integral to making that happen.”

It is so close. You can almost feel it. But a couple of things need to happen before it’s a done deal.

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It wasn’t Danny Townshend or the APL who cocked up the substitution, it was Canberra United.

Capital Retro6:14 pm 15 Mar 23

Great, as long as the ACT ratepayers don’t contribute a cent.

How much are Canberra ratepayers shelling out for a few games a season of the AussieRulers again?

How much are Canberra ratepayers shelling out for a few games a season for the AussieRulers again….?

Capital Retro8:47 am 16 Mar 23

But that money is for non-Canberra based teams to play here. That’s apparemtly acceptable to ACT voters because they keep voting in the party that introduced it many years ago.

You don’t expect this government to support a home grown team, do you?

Stephen Saunders5:30 pm 15 Mar 23

Would this be the same Danny Townsend APL that inflicted a ridiculously over-the-top three-point deduction on Canberra United women?

Let’s hope Football Australia can sort out that travesty, before we’d ever trust APL, on a Canberra United men.

Same thing would happen in any code (and has happened in other codes).

It wasn’t Danny Townshend or the APL who cocked up the substitution, it was Canberra United.

Stephen Saunders5:07 am 16 Mar 23

Canberra disputes that. In any event, the penalty was totally out of all proportion, and not one that was mandated by any published guidelines.

It’s very much in line with published guidelines. State NPLs across the country have the same penalty, and would assume the A-League does as well.

In the case that a Team makes more substitutions than allowed under Section 5 Article 5, and notwithstanding that a Match Official may have permitted the substitution, the Match will be deemed a forfeit against that Team.

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