It has been a long few months for Canberra’s A-league bid as those involved wait with bated breath to find out if their attempt to have a team in the national competition was successful – but with the change to Football Federation Australia’s upper echelons, it looks like the wait is nearly over.
The FFA board was expected to meet on 15 October to discuss the expansion plans, with a decision on the two successful bids to be made public on 31 October. But as the days ticked by and the deadline drew near, the only sound coming from football’s governing body was that of crickets.
News that there would be a change of leadership in the organisation raised concerns that the expansion would be postponed for a year or would be scrapped altogether, as six bidding teams waited to see if their dreams of joining the A-League would become reality.
But with the end of the Lowry family’s era, the new-look board lead by Chris Nikou and Canberra’s own Heather Reid have some big decisions to make and have declared that expanding the A-League is a major priority.
Newly-appointed deputy chair of the FFA board Heather Reid said she wants to be sure of their sustainability before throwing her support behind her hometown’s bid.
“I need to see the reports and I need to see the financial metrics and I need to have a look at the case for sustainability as well as making sure it is financially viable,” she told Region Media.
“I am sure the bid team have done a very good report and know that it is important to get the whole region backing the team. The facilities are in place, there is no doubt about that and the Government support is in place.”
Canberra’s bid, led by Michael Caggiano, has investors locked in, as well as a coaching structure set in place. There is already a deal in place to play at GIO Stadium and they have a training facility at the AIS while also having established a merchandise framework. The ACT Government has also thrown its support behind the bid and there is an alignment with the Australian Sports Foundation. Most importantly, they have the community’s support.
The new-look board will sit down with A-League boss Greg O’Rourke on 12 December to have a detailed briefing on the remaining A-league bids and analyze the various reports from the proposed teams before announcing the two successful bids bound for the A-league.
But Ms Reid said she may have to remove herself from A-League expansion discussions because of a potential conflict of interest with Canberra’s bid.
“I am conscious of the situation where I might be stuck in the middle in wanting to help my Canberra friends but at the same time I have to make a very clear business decision, so I may remove myself from the voting if the directors feel I have a conflict of interest,” she said.
“We are very aware of the urgency in letting the various teams know what is going to be happening so we want to make a decision early in the new year so they can be ready for next season.”