Football Federation Australia "announced two new clubs to join the A-League on Thursday," with Macarthur South-West Sydney and Western Melbourne Group granted licenses, according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. WMG will enter the competition next season after being granted an immediate A-League license to become the 11th club, while the MSWS bid will "enter a season later" to make it a 12-team competition. It reportedly "took more than nine hours for the FFA board to deliberate over A-League expansion, the timeline and number of teams to enter the competition," eventually settling on two teams in a tiered schedule just after midnight on Thursday morning. The decision "was made with the future in mind, with the two bids hailing from the largest two population growth corridors in Australia" (SMH, 12/13).
FINANCIAL RELIEF: In Sydney, Ray Gatt reported it is believed WMG paid close to A$17M ($12.3M) for the license, while MSWS "stumped up" close to A$13M ($9.4M). Once consultancy fees are taken out, FFA "will end up with a decent bank balance" that will alleviate some of its financial issues. FFA CEO David Gallop "has continually said" that the size of the license fees all six bidders were prepared to pay "would not be a tipping point in the final decision on expansion," though suggestions emerged some bids "were asked if they could increase the amount they were prepared to pay." He "would not confirm nor deny the suggestion." Gallop: "It’s not appropriate to go into the negotiations we had. Some happened in the closing days and hours of where we ended up." A-League Chair Chris Nikou gave the failed candidates hope that they would be considered when the A-League moves to 14 teams and then 16 "down the track." Nikou: “I’d like to point out that this is not full-stop for the expansion process. Expansion is an ongoing dialogue for us and we would like to keep the expansion issue on the agenda" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/13). Bossi also reported collectively, the winning bids "were far from being most lucrative for FFA." The organization "was set to receive more" in handing a license to South Melbourne instead of Western Melbourne, with the former National Soccer League club "claiming to have tabled" up to A$20M ($14.5M) to enter the A-League. Southern Expansion offered a license fee of A$16M ($11.6M), another A$4M ($2.9M) in operational expenses and was "prepared to pay" a further A$1M ($720,000) more for a W-League license (SMH, 12/13).
'ANOTHER CHAPTER': In Sydney, Michael Lynch reported Team 11, one of the two Victorian bids that failed to win the A-League expansion license, "will not give up" its hopes of "eventually gaining a place" in the A-League. And "neither will the other disappointed bidder, South Melbourne." Team 11 said in a statement, "It’s not the end of the story, just another chapter in the book." The statement indicated Team 11 is "prepared to go again should the opportunity arise, or even bid for a spot in the second division if one is eventually launched." South Melbourne "expressed similar sentiments." Its chair, Bill Papastergiadis, said, "We are confident South Melbourne FC is and will remain a viable option for an A-League license in the future" (SMH, 12/13). In Sydney, Rugari & Bossi reported former NSL club Brisbane City "withdrew from the A-League expansion race several months ago" but is "one of the frontrunners" to win a license to become the competition's 13th or 14th team. The FFA board reportedly "reviewed a re-submitted proposal from Brisbane City at Wednesday night's marathon board meeting -- in addition to the six which were already on the table." Brisbane City's bid "was not for consideration for this round of expansion, but rather for the new directors to discuss and keep in mind" for future growth of the league (SMH, 12/13).
'NO IMMEDIATE IMPACT': In Canberra, Chris Dutton reported Canberra's A-League snub "has sparked fears about the potential of building a new stadium with a roof" in Civic after the ACT government said that soccer was a "crucial part" of making the A$400M ($289.4M) project viable. The Canberra bid "is clinging to the hope of being part of the next expansion push," or joining the competition if the Wellington Phoenix "fail to meet metrics to keep its place in the A-League." Asked how FFA's snub "would affect the stadium plans," ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said, "No immediate impact. A new or upgraded stadium remains part of the 10-year infrastructure plan for the city. However, it is acknowledged that the absence of a third major user hurts the business case for a new stadium or a major redevelopment of Canberra Stadium" (CANBERRA TIMES, 12/14).
THE MORE THE MERRIER?: In Sydney, Tom Smithies reported Nikou "promised to work" toward an A-League of at least 16 clubs. He said that his new board was "firmly" in favor of adding more teams, "though without a definite timetable." Noting that the optimum size was "more than 14" teams, Nikou said that his preference "would be to add more teams starting the year after" the MSWS team is admitted in '20-21 (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/13).