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Volume 7 No. 149
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A-League Expansion Could Yield First 'Indigenous' Club

Australian sport could have its "first club representative of an Indigenous nation" if Southern Expansion "wins the race" for an A-League license on Dec. 12, according to Bossi & Rugari of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The Dhawaral country is "set to heavily influence the identity of the football club and could even be included in the name of the franchise, should it be granted entry into the competition." Based in the Sutherland Shire region and "drawing support" from St. George and Illawarra regions, the bid's catchment area is "almost identical to the boundaries of the Dharawal nation." That observation has not gone "unnoticed" by Southern Expansion's directors, who have "already engaged a marketing firm to establish" the club's colors, logo and brand in anticipation of being awarded the A-League license. Southern Expansion is "only the working title of the bid and will be dropped" in favor of a club name after consultation with the community. However, Southern Expansion Chair Morris Iemma confirmed the bid's proposal to be put forward to the community will "heavily draw" upon colors "representing the region and influences from the Dharawal nation, which could be included in the club's name." Dharawal community elders have "already been consulted" over images and names that "could be respectfully used for the club" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/29).

SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND: In Sydney, Smithies & Kemp reported the "unintended consequence of expansion" causing A-League execs a "serious headache" is how many rounds to play when two new teams are added, "probably next season." Assuming expansion goes ahead, Fox Sports will inform Football Federation Australia its preference is to broadcast a 22-round regular season, with every club playing each other home and away, followed by the finals series. That adds up to "almost exactly the same number of games being broadcast" -- 137 in a 22-round competition plus finals, as opposed to 140 this year with 10 teams -- but it will mean "between two and three fewer home games for each club in terms of revenue." Some had assumed the league would "expand to 33 rounds," but at roughly A$80,000 ($58,400) in production costs per game, that would cost Fox an extra A$2.5M ($1.8M) -- "money the broadcaster has made clear it cannot afford." However, a 22-round league puts FFA "on a collision course with the Asian Football Confederation," whose rules around which countries can take part in the Asian Champions League state a minimum of 27 games for the top division (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 11/29).

NOT ALL ABOUT MONEY: In Sydney, Michael Lynch reported Former Australian Professional Football Clubs Association Chair and former Adelaide United Owner Greg Griffin, who "led the campaign to oust" former FFA Chair Steven Lowy, said that any plan to give new A-League licenses to the highest bidders would "be an afront to the principles of governance those who opposed Lowy sought to bring to the game." As rumors "circulate that the always cash-hungry FFA might be tempted to consider handing" the new expansion licenses to those that offer the highest fee, Griffin "bridled at the idea." Griffin said that he wants expansion to be "approved quickly -- but in the right locations, and for the right reasons." He said, "It needs to be judged on the correct metrics. Location, population, support, demographics, not just on who pays the most. I would be appalled if it was whoever pays the most gets the license. That is just not the way to do business" (THE AGE, 11/29).