After FFA CEO David Gallop yesterday admitted big money licence fees will be "critical" to the successful expansion clubs, local pollies have backed cashed-up Southern Expansion's bid and insist: "It's time to give us our own club."
Southern (along with the mysterious, fiercely private backers of the West Melbourne bid) are said to have the biggest financial backing among bids hoping to join the league, supported by the owners of Chinese League One side Guizhou Hengfeng (currently home to Nikica Jelevic and Mario Suarez).
“The company standing behind our bid own a Chinese Super League club," Southern spokesman Morris Iemma told FTBL in May. "It’s a marriage of excellence, that takes social media, IT and the latest methods in football to that part of NSW."
FFA's language seems to favour a financial heavyweight, despite large public support for more community-driven expansion bids in Dandenong, South Melbourne and Canberra.
Southern stepped back from flaunting the financial prowess of their bid in light of Gallop's comments, instead focusing on the player participation rates in the bid's Sutherland homeland.
“According to FFA data, Sutherland has, by itself, more player participation than each of the other bid areas: South West Sydney, Canberra, West Melbourne/Geelong, or Melbourne South/South East," CEO Chris Gardiner said.
"And it will take a decade of projected population growth for South West Sydney to catch up.
“Even after a decade, Canberra will still be behind and the Melbourne bid areas won’t come anywhere close. With St George and Wollongong added, no-one comes close even by 2030."
However, the subtext remains clear behind the self-described "grassroots giant": new FFA board structure aside, for the cash-strapped league and Deloitte economics firm that will make the final decision, choosing the highest bidder is a significant possibility.
“We’re a grassroots football giant," Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce said. "And the giant is rumbling - it’s time to give us our own club."
FFA have extended the decision on two new expansion clubs to December 12, although are still leaving open the possibility of an announcement as late as January, 2019.