Will Canberra’s hope for an A-League team play out at GIO Stadium this year?

Tim Gavel 7 August 2019 32

Crowd numbers at GIO Stadium will be closely monitored during the Socceroos World Cup qualifier against Nepal this October. Photo: Facebook.

A Football Federation fan forum in Canberra earlier this year moved to assure the local football community that the ACT would be one of the next to be considered for an A-League Licence. The assurance followed disappointment that Canberra had once again been overlooked in favour of a third team in both Sydney and Melbourne.

The FFA though gave cause for optimism suggesting a Canberra team was likely in the next round of expansion, which could happen sooner than most people are anticipating.

The issue facing the A-League is sustainability, with Foxtel indicating it is looking to cut costs, including rights paid to sports in Australia. This could result in a reduced revenue base for teams.

In many respects, this will put pressure on a number of teams relying heavily on the television revenue stream to cover costs.

The Canberra and Capital Region A-League bid was based on long-term sustainability underpinned by a community ownership model. An estimated 10-12 million dollars is anticipated as required to run the team each year, with funding sources including the ACT Government and television revenue, gate receipts, corporate support and financial investors.

On the surface it would appear as though the Canberra bid has less reliance on television revenue than some of the existing teams but without access to all the figures it is hard to estimate.

What isn’t in question is the general support for soccer in Canberra with over 30,000 registered players. What is obviously required, if Canberra is to get an A-League team, is a large percentage of those already involved in the sport actively coming along to games.

October 10 represents the first opportunity, since the announcement that Canberra had missed out on A-League expansion, to gauge continuing support for the code, which will be interpreted as support for an A-League team in Canberra.

The Socceroos will play a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Nepal at GIO Stadium with officials also looking at using Canberra facilities in the future. They will be keeping a close eye on attendance figures.

It is the first time the Socceroos have played in Canberra since 2015 when 19,500 turned up to watch Australia play Kyrgyzstan. In 2009 over 20,000 attended the Asian Cup qualifier between the Socceroos and Kuwait, a game at the time seen as a litmus test for inclusion into an expanded A-League.

Canberra has already proven that it can successfully and sustainably run a national team with Canberra United in the W League but that is dwarfed by the financial commitment required to run an A-League team.

This is why it is as important as it was in 2009 and 2015 to again provide tangible evidence of support for soccer in Canberra because no doubt it will be used to either strengthen or weaken a bid for an A-League team in the next round of expansion.


Tim Gavel is a consultant to Capital Football.

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32 Responses to Will Canberra’s hope for an A-League team play out at GIO Stadium this year?
Annil Singh Annil Singh 9:07 pm 10 Aug 19

isn't that what they say every single time.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:34 am 09 Aug 19

Before soccer existed in Australia the Rugby League (and sometimes Rugby Union) national teams from other countries came to Australia regularly for test matches. They also toured regional centres – this doesn’t happen these days. This is the difference between amateur (then) and professional (now). The ultimate decision on whether Canberra a gets a A level team is about money, not local support.

I recall a memorable RL match at Bathurst in the 1950s when Great Britain (the Chooms) played NSW Western Division at Bathurst. I recall that our team won despite a devastating performance by British winger Billy Boston.

The last regional RU match I saw was the Argentinian Pumas playing NSW Country Division at Narrabri in about 1980.

I admit I am not a soccer fan – there is nothing more boring than watching a game that has a 0-0 result.

Anthony Gordo Anthony Gordo 10:43 pm 07 Aug 19

Clearly attendances at these games has absolutely nothing to do with whether we get an A-League team or we would have one. We have nothing more to prove. The support is here.

Allister Roger Allister Roger 6:31 pm 07 Aug 19

Nobody is going to that terrible stadium experience to watch third or fourth tier football.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:10 pm 07 Aug 19

When will the government stop wasting ratepayers money on more sporting lost causes?

I would rather have more public art.

Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 1:39 pm 07 Aug 19

Thats fine to begin with but the brumbies are a top team and dont draw big crowds

    Yuri Shukost Yuri Shukost 5:34 am 09 Aug 19

    Stephen Matthews crowds were down for all Australian SR teams. I think people have had enough of Rugby Australia after the way they managed the removal of the Force and hints that Brumbies and Rebels might be merged. Then, we got the Folau thing.

    Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 11:54 am 09 Aug 19

    Yuri Shukost very true

Chris Mitchell Chris Mitchell 12:56 pm 07 Aug 19

Oh sure like the time we got a full house to watch an australian team comprised entirely of A-League players? They said that was also a chance for us to prove we deserve a team.

Peter Major Peter Major 12:29 pm 07 Aug 19

More money wasted

Jon Billows Jon Billows 9:38 am 07 Aug 19

Every qualifier is against a Nepal, or a Thailand or Oman etc. These are real matches with real stakes (a world cup spot). Canberra is no different. I would not expect a game against Japan or South Korea be anywhere other than Melb or Syd. Adelaide, Perth and Bris are in the same boat. Be happy Canberra got a match at all.

David Brown David Brown 9:25 am 07 Aug 19

Or demonstrate that there is little real interest.

This is hardly an exciting match up.

    David Brown David Brown 9:52 am 07 Aug 19

    Jon Billows Why should I be happy? Soccer Australia treats Canberra very poorly. We got a match that is unlikely to attract a big crowd in Sydney or Melbourne. Gotta put it somewhere 🤔 Those mugs in Canberra will go.

    Jon Billows Jon Billows 10:13 am 07 Aug 19

    again same in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. you cant expect the socceroos to play someone like England or Germany in Australia, let alone in Canberra, It is a good result. We should be supporting our national team, regardless of who they are playing. Ill go watch them play Under 12's if it means I can get up close to the best players in the country

Matt Nicoletti Matt Nicoletti 9:01 am 07 Aug 19

We constantly prove we deserve a team. Until Foxtel stop making the decisions for expansion teams, we don’t stand a chance.

Justin Watson Justin Watson 8:54 am 07 Aug 19

Isn't the a-League owned by team owners now. It will be interesting to see how they view expansion. On one hand they won't want more clubs in their backyard, so less chance of more teams in existing cities, but on the other hand expansion may mean less money for each club, so they prob won't want expansion, unless it brings in lots more money.

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 8:28 am 07 Aug 19

How often do we have to ‘prove’ that we are a football town?

The A-League bid should be judged on its own merits, not whether we can attract a crowd to a Socceroos match. It’s well known that the only reason Canberra was not chosen as an expansion club in the last round of bids was because Foxtel dictated to the FFA that the clubs had to come from Sydney or Melbourne in order to maximise TV audiences because of the increase in derby games.

Oh and Tim, it’s football, not soccer.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 12:13 pm 07 Aug 19

    Gabriel Spacca it’s Australia. It’s soccer.

    John Andriunas John Andriunas 12:56 pm 07 Aug 19

    Ben Jones it's Australia, it's football! We are not American.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 1:44 pm 07 Aug 19

    Gabriel Spacca in Australia it’s Soccer, all ways has been always will be

    Robbie Skinner Robbie Skinner 6:02 pm 07 Aug 19

    If it's soccer in Australia why does the FFA stand for Football Federation of Australia and not SFA becauce we all know what that stands for Sweet Fxxx All

    Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 12:32 am 08 Aug 19

    It’s the World Game people. It’s football.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 8:26 am 08 Aug 19

    Gabriel Spacca the world doesn’t dictate what we call things in this country.

    John Andriunas John Andriunas 12:39 pm 08 Aug 19

    Ben Jones no it doesnt and in Australia it is called football. What does FFA stand for? Lol

    Chris Jones Chris Jones 6:53 pm 08 Aug 19

    John Andriunas dude just stop. It’s called soccer.

    I guess the local Canberra clubs that keep sending us leaflets don’t know their own name.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 7:00 pm 08 Aug 19

    John Andriunas they can call themselves what ever they like. Doesn’t mean that the rest of the country will follow and say football.

    Why is the national team called the Socceroos ?

    Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 10:13 pm 08 Aug 19


    If you’re really interested in the origin of the name. Tl:dr it was coined by a journalist either in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s.

    The nickname made sense in less enlightened times. Now it’s synonymous with the team, and there’s nothing wrong with that as it pays homage to the origins of the name - Association Football.

    But of course now the Australian Football community has decided to embrace the universal name for the game, its football. And yes, some less enlightened people will continue to call it soccer, and we’ll continue to correct them. Eventually it’ll be adopted.

    Chris Jones. You dropped your microphone man. You need to be careful. Those things are expensive.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 10:37 pm 08 Aug 19

    Since when has this country let the rest of the world dictate what we call or name things.

    As much as you bleat on about it, soccer it is in Australia.

    Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 10:43 pm 08 Aug 19

    Football Ben. It’s not that hard. You can do it. 😉

    Chris Jones Chris Jones 4:54 am 09 Aug 19

    Ahhhhh .... so the name Socceroos is from 50 years ago.

    And we can never, ever, change anything that was first done decades ago because “that’s the way it is”.

    I’d have thought if the name soccer was wrong there would be a concerted effort to change the name and educate us who are obviously so very wrong.

    That way of thinking is a sure fire way to become irrelevant really quick.

    Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 11:07 am 09 Aug 19

    That’s a fair criticism, but as this thread has shown, it’s hard enough to get people to call the game football, rather than soccer. So little steps. Maybe one day they’ll revert to the original suggestion of the Emus.

    Or maybe they’ll just appropriate the Kangaroos nickname and really piss off Rugby League fans. 😉

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 7:31 am 07 Aug 19

First game since 2015, and it’s against Nepal, and that will gauge our support? I mean, Tim, what could possibly be fairer?

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