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SBD Global/October 9, 2013/International Football

Australian A-League Mulls Asian Expansion Into Singapore, Malaysia And Indonesia

Senior officials said that Australia's domestic A-League "could eventually expand into Asia with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia showing interest," according to the AFP. The league currently has 10 teams and while a move to expand is not imminent, "it could reportedly stage games in Asia" as soon as the '14-15 season. A-League President Damien de Bohun said, "There's no reason why you can't look seriously at games and even certainly clubs being based in different parts of Asia. Perth Glory played a game in Malaysia ... a pre-season match, they had 27,000 people there" (AFP, 10/8). In Sydney, Michael Lynch wrote "the Football Federation of Australia seeks to turn the challenge of hosting the Asian Cup in January 2015 into an opportunity." Because of the narrow window in which the A-League needs to be contained -- the sport's governing body is "keen to keep the season kickoff in early October," when the rival football codes have finished, and its finals in May, before the Australian Football League and National Rugby League hit their straps -- A-League officials "are not keen on the idea of suspending the competition while the Asian Cup takes place." But the FFA would like "clear air" for the Socceroos and the cream of Asian football in the host cities -- Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Newcastle -- "in which matches will be played, hence the idea of shifting A-League matches overseas." Singapore and Malaysia "are the most likely countries to host new teams" if the FFA looks to extend the A-League footprint. De Bohun: "We have a precedent with Wellington, who play in our league out of New Zealand. Forget being in a different country, they are in a different confederation. It's something we will explore" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/9).

RATINGS RISE: REUTERS' Ian Ransom wrote while the A-League, which also features one team from New Zealand, saw crowds, memberships and broadcast ratings rise in its most successful season last year, "it is still in a precarious position in its home market, where Australian Rules football and rugby league dominate." De Bohun said that "the A-League would not look to expand the number of teams over the life of its current four-year broadcasting agreement, but would consider bringing in Asian-based clubs when it found itself on a firmer footing." De Bohun: "We're part of Asia. I think Australia's starting to understand that in a footballing context. We have a global game, a game that doesn't just have to be played in Australia" (REUTERS, 10/8).
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