The A-League must continue expansion plans post COVID-19, says Kiwi coaching great Ricki Herbert, who believes the future is bright for the competition.
The resumption of the current A-League season is set for July, August with a handful of rounds and a finals series set to be completed behind closed doors.
Herbert, the Kiwi coach who guided Wellington Phoenix to its first A-League finals series and New Zealand to an unbeaten 2010 World Cup campaign, remains in touch with the A-League through his many contacts in the game.
With uncertainty surrounding the A-League, Herbert says now is the time to assess growth options for the A-League.
"It is a great league,” Herbert tells FTBL.
"I feel that the A-League will continue to prosper post-COVID-19 pandemic and that the vision for the sport can be instrumental in continuing to provide Australia with a regular qualification at World Cups and to showcase the best of Australian talent to the world.
"Potential expansion of Australian franchises is certainly a strong possibility in the near future as it would allow for the depth and the growth of emerging and talented domestic players a strong platform to launch their professional careers and ambitions in the A-League."
Herbert is back coaching on the pitch in New Zealand thanks to living in a country that flattened the COVID curve relatively swiftly.
He’s running his own academy and working with local Kiwi clubs, including where son Kale Herbert coaches at Hamilton Wanderers.
It’s given Herbert time to reflect on an extraordinary career and plan his next professional move.
His career as a player took him to Wolves in England and the 1982 World Cup with New Zealand, their first.
This was followed by a stellar coaching career in the A-League at New Zealand club Phoenix as well as the All-Whites, who accounted for Bahrain famously in a 2009 InterContinental World Cup playoff to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 27 years.
His UK coaching connection, he feels, paid off.
"Having completed my senior coach education courses abroad in England (UEFA ‘A' Licence, Pro Licence Diploma), this really provided me with a very strong platform of learning knowledge," Herbert says.