A-Leagues add Canberra, Auckland teams in $50m expansion

“You can never be sure, but I think from the first few meetings we’ve had there’s enough interest that it’s certainly there [investors] out there who want to get involved. We’re pretty confident and we have a plan B. If that doesn’t work, there are options for the league like that [Western Sydney] Walker. It’s not our preferred option and we don’t think we have to do it.”

Michael Caggiano (right) led Canberra's bid five years ago.

Michael Caggiano (right) led Canberra’s bid five years ago.Credit:Eamon Tiernan

The fee will buy the new owners a stake in the APL, along with the 12 existing teams, broadcasters Paramount, Silver Lake and Football Australia, who also own a special “Good of the Game” share giving them control of important Issues such as foreign players are certificates and indeed expansion. Townsend said FA have also backed in principle an Auckland side which is expected to receive regulatory approval from FIFA, AFC and OFC as they – like Wellington Phoenix – will technically be another Oceanian club to compete in an Asian league.

The addition of two sides would fix the A-League men’s lopsided draw. Teams meet some opponents twice and others three times in a 26-round home-away match – and then 30 rounds once 16 teams are reached.

The A-League has not had a team at New Zealand’s largest city, Smart Stadium, home of the NRL’s New Zealand Warriors, since the closure of the New Zealand Knights in 2008.

Canberra have now been knocking on the door of the A-League for more than a decade. Michael Caggiano, the businessman behind the Canberra and Capital Region bid five years ago, has been brought on by the APL as an “adviser” on the expansion. He said he was very encouraged by the APL’s approach and long-term plans. The eventual owners of the Canberra license are also expected to take over the standalone A-League women’s team Canberra United, which is currently operated by Capital Football, the ACT association.


Townsend said the same process would most likely be followed for teams 15 and 16, with the Gold Coast, Wollongong or a second team in Brisbane being considered frontrunners to enter the competitions in the 2025-26 season. He didn’t rule out the promotion of teams from FA’s second division, which will start in March 2024, but said it would probably be asking too much of all parties given the time constraints involved.

“There are two critical factors there: financial sustainability and performance. If [the second division is] If you can demonstrate both, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take it seriously. But there’s still a long way to go,” Townsend said, noting that the APL had not officially been looped into the FA’s second division plans.

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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/a-leagues-to-add-canberra-auckland-teams-in-50m-expansion-20230314-p5crwp.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport A-Leagues add Canberra, Auckland teams in $50m expansion

Ryan Sederquist

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