A-League expansion process faces up to fresh delays

The process to add two new teams to the A-League, the top division of Australian club football, could be delayed until the 2020-21 season as Football Federation Australia continues to weigh the merits of the final six contenders.

The process was originally due to be completed by October 31, with the new teams added to the 2019-20 A-League. FFA is set to make its recommendation on the chosen two clubs at a meeting on December 12, but chief executive David Gallop has warned that a final decision could yet drag on to the New Year.

“There will be a report on the 12th of December and we hope to be in a position where there’s a final recommendation that can be made,” Gallop said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

“It’s not absolutely critical that a decision is made on the 12th of December but there’s only a short period of time after that, perhaps into January. If it went much past January, it would obviously put the 19-20 season start under pressure.”

The final six entities in the running are South West Sydney, Southern Expansion, South Melbourne, Western Melbourne, Team 11 and Canberra. The Australian newspaper said the decision is likely to come down to a final four contenders, with Melbourne-based Team 11 and Canberra deemed the favourites.

The Herald claimed one of the main issues concerning expansion remains the licence fees offered by the bidders, with a minimum requirement of around A$13m (€8.4m/$9.6m). Gallop added: “The expansion equation was always going to take into account a range of factors. It’s silly to suggest that it was only ever about the licence fee but clearly the financial position of the A-League and the rest of the game means that the financial equation is critical.

“We continue to talk to all the bids about making sure that they’ve put their best foot forward not only in terms of the licence fee but infrastructure, community engagement, these are still topics that we are talking to the bidders about because making sure we get a range of factors to the best possible position is going to be important.”

The A-League has comprised 10 teams since the addition of the Western Sydney Wanderers in 2012.