Canberra and Wollongong have ruled out combining their A-League expansion efforts to form a super-bid, with each party adamant their proposals are strong enough to stand alone.
The groups said they would happily provide elite pathways for the other, but refused the idea of a joint venture with neither willing to compromise on having an A-League franchise in their city.
FFA have ruled out expansion for at least two years and boss David Gallop is wary of expanding into cities with under one million people after the North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United survived just a handful of seasons before falling into financial ruin.
Canberra is currently the eighth largest city in Australia with 395,000 people but is expected to grow to half a million by 2034, while Wollongong sits in 10th at just under 300,000.
The numbers fall well short of Gallop’s benchmark, but when combined and with catchment areas included the figure would comfortably push past one million.
Wollongong Wolves president Chris Papakosmas has no concerns over Gallop’s comments and remains adamant an A-League team will be financially viable in Wollongong.
“Our position has never altered from the beginning, we’re putting in a completely stand alone bid with an Illawarra and South Coast presence, but that doesn’t mean we can’t develop partnerships with other clubs that benefits everyone,” Papakosmas said.
“If Canberra have a stand alone team then fantastic and if not we’re more than happy to provide them that representative pathways like we currently have with Belconnen United.
“If Canberra get a team then great and good luck, all the power to them, but our bid continues to grow and evolve and it was never dependent on Canberra.
“We have no issues or concerns about it not going our way, the bid we put together will be complete and holistic and eventually there will be a Wolves presence in the A-League, that is a fact.”
Jeff Williamson is leading up Canberra’s bid and said despite a failed previous bid, the number people wanting to support the venture is growing by the day.
“People have said to me they thought the bid was done and that they’re very happy to hear it’s back on the table. There is certainly a growing interest throughout the city,” Williamson said.
“Our preference is to have our own Canberra team and one of the distinctive things I want to do is make it a community effort because we’re going to need all the support we can get.”
A-League bosses walked out on a meeting with the FFA last week after the governing body offered the 10 teams a $3.25 million slice of the $57.6 million-a-year broadcast deal.
A-League sides currently receive the salary cap – $2.6 million – but with that set to increase to at least $2.92 million next season clubs were expecting closer to $4.5 million.
“We’re watching the current FFA process closely, it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out because if clubs ask and get too much money it could kill off expansion entirely,” Williamson said.