A-League clubs push back on expansion
FOOTBALL Federation Australia is coming under growing pressure from the A-League clubs to delay expansion, 48 hours before the new FFA board is due to decide whether to add two teams for next season.
A-League expansion is the main agenda item of Wednesday's FFA board meeting, the first of the post-Lowy era, after the previous board opted to postpone the announcement set for last October.
FFA were due to name the two new clubs, likely to be from Melbourne and Sydney although Canberra United are viewed as outsiders. Six bids remain in mix.
The south east Melbourne based Team 11, Western Melbourne and former NSL club South Melbourne are the three live Victorian bids. Southern Expansion, taking in St George, Sutherland and the Illawarra, and South West Sydney are the other two.
In a sign of the competing pressures tightening on FFA's executive ahead of the massive call, a delegation of the five biggest clubs told CEO David Gallop that he should recommend delaying expansion by a year when he briefs the board on Wednesday.
The owners of Melbourne Victory and City, Sydney FC, the Wanderers and Brisbane Roar told Gallop that provisional licenses should be awarded to two of the bidders, with the new teams coming into the A-League in 2020-21 subject to fulfilling certain criteria.
It's understood the five owners argued that none of the six bids on the table was advanced enough to be rushed into the league next season, despite FFA management having argued it remains confident expansion can be managed successfully in just 10 months.
However, in a sign of the myriad viewpoints at play, at least one A-League owner maintains he was not aware that the delegation would meet Gallop.
Though all have now submitted their formal bids, including the final sum they are prepared to pay as a licence fee, there remains significant jockeying for position in the final hours.
That included brief discussion of a marriage of the two Sydney consortiums on Friday that was quickly shot down by the South-West Sydney group which intends to play its games at Campbelltown Stadium.
On Wednesday the new FFA board, elected only last month, will meet with expansion the major item on its agenda. However it remains unclear which of the six directors will be able to vote on it, as the three newly elected members - Heather Reid, Joseph Carrozzi, and Remo Nogarotto - all have links to some of the bidders.
Under the FFA Constitution, at least four directors are required for a quorum, which could potentially raise governance issues for the new board. FFA has been approached for comment.
The board is also likely to consider appointing extra directors, including the former Labor senator Steven Conroy, though it's believed that is more likely to happen in February.
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