BREAKING: FFA to announce a new Western Sydney A-League team
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Football Federation of Australia CEO Ben Buckley holds a media press conference. AAP Image/Dean Lewins
So this is how Football Federation Australia believes the west will be won.
Later today, FFA will announce a Western Sydney team funded by the peak body will replace Gold Coast United as the A-League’s 10th team for next season.
It can’t be overemphasised just how significant a moment this is for the A-League and Australian football.
FFA is betting the house on this decision coming off, but let’s be clear this is a last resort.
Upper management at FFA were trawling for investment for a Western Sydney team as far back as when Con Constantine was asked to get involved while being shown the door at Newcastle.
Since then similar approaches have been made right across the country.
Earlier this year Paul Lederer, a prominent businessman with strong links to Western Sydney, was personally courted by Frank Lowy before rejecting the idea amongst heavy criticism of FFA’s business plan for the prospective club.
Couple this with FFA’s history of almost unilateral failure at expansion and it’s a stark background for the A-League to take on the AFL and NRL in the Western suburbs.
Just last week FFA CEO Ben Buckley wrote on The Roar that expansion into Western Sydney will “only occur when those economic pre-conditions of stability and sustainability exist”.
For this decision to have been made now, Buckley and Lowy have either worked a miracle in eight days, or are desperate.
Yet the potential in what many refer to as football’s heartland remains.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting there are plans to host three marquee games at ANZ Stadium, including the league’s second derby.
It’s an enticing proposition and one that could further drive the league’s TV ratings at such a decisive time.
With only 12 months left on the current arrangement with Fox Sports, FFA has openly acknowledged just how crucial the next TV deal is and the decision to immediately expand into Western Sydney is tied to this need.
But what happens if things go wrong and, this time next year, after having been rushed together in a matter of months, the A-League’s 10th team are languishing both on and off the pitch?
The stakes couldn’t be any higher.