Failed A-League hopefuls Wollongong Wolves have claimed their unsuccessful bid wasn't unexpected with Football Federation Australia preferring expansion in the capital city markets.
Wollongong and Queensland's Ipswich Pride were culled from the FFA's shortlist which was reduced to six today, ahead of a looming decision on the two successful candidates.
The latest decision means only one of the remaining six bids for A-League expansion, Canberra, are based outside either Sydney or Melbourne.
The remaining bids are Southern Expansion (NSW), Macarthur South West Sydney (NSW), Western Melbourne (VIC), Team 11 (VIC), South Melbourne (VIC) and Canberra (ACT).
In a club statement, Wolves director Chris Sheppard said: "Whilst our exclusion comes as a disappointment, it is not completely unexpected.
"During the process it became apparent that the next two teams were likely to be capital city based.
"The metrics required to satisfy many of the relevant criteria – both financial and non-financial – made it difficult for our region to compete with heavily populated metro areas."
Sheppard also indicated the club had not given up on inclusion in the A-League in the future, acknowledging the process had provided them with good information.
"It is no secret that further rounds of expansion are likely," he said.
"The work put into our bid and the relationships formed during the course of it, will no doubt hold us in good stead when future expansion beyond 12 teams is being considered.
"The effort expended to date has not been wasted. It has given clarity to the strengths of our club.
"In addition, it was humbling to see the brand awareness and the fondness felt for the club across Australia. Public opinion – both locally and nationally - was strongly in our favour.
"Equally, the process has helped highlight our weaknesses and the aspects which we must improve upon.
"The fact that our bid progressed into the final eight stage is evidence that we are being closely considered and will continue to be in the future."