A-League Expansion: Where should the new teams be based?

With the A-League looking at expanding the current number of clubs from 10 to 12 in the next couple of years.  It is time to look at who has thrown their hat in the ring.  In Queensland there is a call to have a second team in Brisbane or further based south such as Ipswich.  Brisbane Strikers who were once part of the old NSL are pushing for the second team from Queensland.  While Brisbane Roar have a good support base, their current ownership issue and lack of a boutique stadium could further dilute the support base in Queensland.  In Western Australia they are looking to have a team based in Fremantle.  Again Perth Glory are only now getting themselves back to when they dominated football in the country in the old NSL days.  A second team in Western Australia, like in Queensland, could dilute the support.  Adelaide and Canberra have decided to not apply for expansion at this point of time.

So this leaves us with nominations from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.  New South Wales have a couple of areas with potential.  South Sydney has been identified as an area of growth.  Based in the Sutherland Shire it is a massive football hub and there is no shortage of suitable grounds in the region.  The issue would be it may encroach on Sydney FC’s support base, however there is great potential here.  A team based in Wollongong would also give the Football Federation Australia a chance to expand the game.  There is history with Wollongong Wolves from the NSL days and they have Win stadium as well.  The draw back has been the worrying signs of other regional clubs in the A-League such as the Mariners and the Jets.  So would the FFA want to support another regional team?  Tasmania is an interesting option.  There is a growing football community in the state and both AFL and Rugby League are showing no interest in the state.  Could this be a chance for Football to make a real impact in the state.  It has both State and Federal Government backing and North Hobart Oval would be rebuilt into a 10,000 capacity stadium.

Victoria could be the real battleground on who gets a spot in the A-League.  The city of Geelong has thrown its hat in the ring.  There is a huge football community in the region and have the Geelong Cats’ stadium to use.  However football on  AFL grounds lacks intimacy and atmosphere and again the regional factor comes into play as well.  A team based in the South Eastern belt of Melbourne has been raised.  With a population of 1.2 million and potential for future growth there is a lot of promise with the bid.  There are a lot of what ifs with the bid as well.  A new stadium would need to be built in Dandenong or Cranbourne, a real committee has not been formed and would support for the new team further dilute from Victory and Melbourne City supporters?

This leaves South Melbourne as the best candidate to join the A-League.  South won the NSL several times, played in the Club World Cup and are the Oceania Club of last century.  There is still a huge supporter base that follows South Melbourne and most importantly they own their stadium.  The 14,000 capacity Lakeside Stadium gives South Melbourne a huge kick start.   With their own Social club and one of Australia’s best youth set ups South Melbourne would be a huge fillip for the A-League.  It is also a chance for the FFA to reconnect with the Old Soccer fans that walked away from the game when the A-League was formed just over a decade ago.

So in May 2017 when the FFA announces who will be part of the A League I hope South Melbourne will be part of the expansion and make Melbourne the football hub of Australia.

About Vaughan Menlove

Obsessed with Richmond, Luton Town, Melbourne Victory and Arsenal. The Dr had a soccer career hampered by the realisation he was crap, but could talk his way around the game. Currently on Southern FM with The Peoples Court and co host of Goodfellas Football podcast with Steve Baker

Comments

  1. To date there’s no real community push down here in Tassie for an A-league team. That said, a team here could actually work and take-off, anchoring itself into the place. Why? Partly it’s to do with the generally dire state that Aussie Rules finds itself down here nowadays. Not one Taswegian in the last draft says it all.

    Footy was once the ‘only game in town’. Not any more. The AFL in its wisdom ignored Tassie, preferring the Gold Coast and western Sydney when it expanded to 18 teams. And while the Hawks, and to a lesser degree, North attract a fair amount of interest, there are also plenty of kids playing soccer or wandering around kicking roundballs in the parks and streets, often dressed in Barca, Man U, Chelsea et al tops. Soccer / football isn’t just a passing fad – it looks like the future. Playing regular top-flight games here will inevitably attract even more local interest in, and to, the code.

    Tasmanians love to get behind local teams. If games are played at a purpose-built rectangular ’boutique’ ground holding 8-10k ( for great atmosphere)…if the team’s competitive early on and eventually successful…if a strong local academy structure is developed….if a womens team is formed within a couple of seasons…well, watch the code boom here.

  2. Luke Reynolds says:

    Totally agree with South Melbourne’s inclusion, as you point out they’d be ready to start immediately and would create a wonderful rivalry with the other two Melbourne teams.
    A Tasmanian team would be wonderful but I reckon they’re more likely to go with South Sydney or maybe Wollongong.

Leave a Comment

*