Football Federation Australia (FFA) says expansion for the next A-League season remains the goal but have ruled out Wollongong Wolves and Ipswich Pride's respective bids following Tuesday's Board meeting.
The FFA provided an update on the expansion process following the meeting in Sydney, amid speculation expansion could be delayed in light of the recent Board upheaval.
October 31 had previously been slated as the deadline for confirmation of the two successful bids for the 2019/20 season but it's expected the final decisions will be left to the new Board who come into power at next month's Annual General Meeting.
In the update, the FFA said it would undertake further due diligence and negotiations with six remaining bids, Southern Expansion (NSW), Macarthur South West Sydney (NSW), Western Melbourne (VIC), Team 11 (VIC), South Melbourne (VIC) and Canberra (ACT).
FFA Chief Executive Officer David Gallop AM said the decision meant bids from Wollongong Wolves and Ipswich Pride will not be considered for a licence at this time.
“Since receiving the eight bids, we have carefully evaluated information provided and commitments made by the bidding parties," Gallop said.
"It was clear certain bids were stronger than others. We have six bids that all have positive aspects but require further work in certain areas.
"We need to continue our consultation with those bid teams to ensure that they adequately address these areas to ensure their future sustainability, which includes securing stadia, catchment area and financial capital.
“It is critical that FFA can be satisfied the successful bidders will be sustainable from day one as well as meet a variety of commitments that will benefit the longer-term growth of the Hyundai A-League."
Gallop added that expansion was crucial for the success of the A-League, allaying fears of a delay.
“It is universally acknowledged that expansion of the Hyundai A-League is an important next step forward," he said.
"We know it will provide a shot in the arm for our game by providing more opportunities for young Australian footballers, bringing in new fans and engaging new communities.
"We look forward to continuing to work with these groups, the existing clubs and other stakeholders to make expansion a success for the whole of football.
“FFA will continue to work towards expansion in the next season of the Hyundai A-League should it be satisfied the remaining bids address some of these outstanding issues.
“We appreciate the efforts of the teams from Wollongong and Ipswich, who both put a considerable amount of work towards this process.
"We were impressed with their professionalism and we encourage them each to continue to work towards further strengthening their credentials as we continue to grow the A-League footprint in coming years."
FFA, with the support of lead adviser Deloitte, will now continue to work with remaining bidders to finalise plans for expansion to present at the next meeting of the FFA Board, which will be held soon after the Annual General Meeting in November.