The FFA has put A-League expansion on the backburner until at least 2018-19, but a consortium fronted by football media figures Les Murray and Craig Foster is the latest group, to express interest in any vacancy with a new club representing the south of Sydney, The club is backed by a Chinese property company, Jia Yuan.
The group, calling itself “Southern Expansion”, spoke to the media on Monday to outline its plans.
Former SBS broadcaster Les Murray, the chairman of the steering group for the new club, said it would service all levels of football, including men’s and women’s teams, junior and community sides.
Murray said the plan was to bring top-level football to the region including St George, the Sutherland shire and the Illawarra, with support from local football associations.
“For that to happen our club needs to play in the A-League, the W-League and the National Youth League,” Murray said.
“Accordingly we have given notice to the FFA that we are going to apply for an A-League licence whenever the league is ready for expansion.
“Whenever it does we will be ready to go, in fact we are ready to go now.”
The club is backed by a Chinese property company, Jia Yuan, and Murray said that $12 million in bank guarantees had been secured for operating capital “to demonstrate to the FFA that the funding is there for the project.”
Games would be split among three venues — Shark Park in Cronulla, Jubilee Oval in Kogarah and Wood Stadium in Wollongong.
Murray also said the group was also giving “serious consideration” to building the club’s own stadium in the region.
The club’s director of football will be TV broadcaster and former Socceroo Foster.
Last week the FFA announced that expansion of the 10-team league would not happen before the 2018-19 season.
FFA looking to help, not hinder expansion: Gallop
Chief executive David Gallop said the FFA had advised clubs that there was a need to find a new financial model for the A-League and W-League, in order to allow expansion while protecting the investments of the current team owners.
Prior to the FFA announcement of a delay, bids had already been received from Melbourne, Brisbane, Tasmania, Wollongong and Geelong with the latter three bids representing potential new ground for the A-League.
“FFA is working on a new operating and ownership model for the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League that is designed to help not hinder expansion and under which new entrants and existing clubs can all benefit in terms of the value of an A League licence,” Gallop said.
“The interest from the Jia Yuan Group – of which we were aware – and the other groups that have expressed an interest in being part of an expanded league, is welcome and shows the potential of the game.
“However as we have consistently said individual bids – even well-funded ones – do not address the operating and contractual costs faced by FFA and therefore they do not make expansion instantly viable on their own. There is no point in having a well-funded club working in one geographical area if other clubs are not seeing any benefit or indeed are expected to see the funding model diluted.”