It took far too long, but there’s finally some certainty over A-League expansion, with two new teams set to be named in October. So who will they be?
5. SOUTH MELBOURNE
As ‘Oceania Club of the Century’, the former NSL powerhouse have been one of the most vocal bidders for an A-League franchise.
They boast a strong supporter base, their own facilities at 15,000 capacity Lakeside Stadium, relationships with football clubs across Asia and Europe and a previous commitment to marquee signings and coaches, including Roberto Carlos.
While South’s bid is a frontrunner, there have also been concerns that a third club in inner-Melbourne may over-saturate the market and that the club’s close-association with the Greek community may prevent a wider audience.
6. AUCKLAND CITY
While - given Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand Knights’ dismal record and fan attendances – the Australian public may shudder at the idea of a second New Zealand side entering the competition, it’s not worth dismissing Auckland entirely.
A second N.Z club may provide local fans a reason to consider themselves part of the A-League. It could build upon the strong rivalry between Wellington and Auckland, creating a fiery local derby and building media attention.
Auckland has a significant population, existing infrastructure and a stable club with a successful coach - Ramon Tribulietx even led the club to third in the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup.
7. TEAM 11
89 grassroots clubs, more than 12,000 registered players, 156 nationalities and a population of over 1.2 million gives South-East Melbourne candidates ‘Team 11’ a foothold in the A-League race.
The Dandenong region also has a rich production-history, including the likes of Jackson Irvine, Bailey Wright, Scott McDonald and Vince Grella. However, a lack of a pre-existing stadiums in Dandenong may incentivise FFA to consider other bids.
“This bid ticks all the boxes that Football Federation Australia would want from an expansion club,” Grella previously said.
8. TASMANIA UNITED
While it certainly didn’t happen by 2012 as they were hoping, the island-state has a huge, unsated appetite for sport. Tassie has no A-League, AFL, W-League, NRL, NBL, WNBL, NRL or Super League clubs to support, however a lack of rectangular stadiums may hold them back. There are, however, tentative plans for a rectangular stadium in Hobart.
While the ‘Tasmania United’ bid has been in the pipeline since 2005 with little success, Local M.P Andrew Wilkie remains a vocal proponent.
“I will continue to look for every opportunity in the Parliament to advocate for the establishment of a Tassie A-League team,” Wilkie previously said.
“Because, as I said in my question to the PM, it would be a wonderful rallying point for the community, inject millions of dollars into the economy, establish soccer as the only true national football code and boost TV audiences.”
9. CANBERRA UNITED
Building on the success of W-League club Canberra United, an A-League club in Australia’s capital ticks a lot of boxes. It’s the biggest Australian city without an A-League side, boasts a world-class rectangular stadium and is based somwhere that offers little competition for sporting punters over the summer.
Ned Zelic, Carl Valeri and Lydia Williams have pledged their support for a capital club, while Canberra also hosts the Australian Institute of Sport and formerly, FFA’s Centre of Excellence academy.
In rugby heartland, however, there are always questions over fanbase and financial viability. Especially when their own state’s member federation, Capital Football, said it has no desire to "own and operate" a team.