Canberra not yet ready for A-League franchise
While there has been local uproar at the decision to pull the plug on Canberra’s A-League bid, it cannot be guaranteed to the FFA that Canberra has enough business and public backing to sustain a successful A-League team.
How often in the past have we seen Canberra teams enter national soccer competitions, (Canberra City, Canberra Cosmos, Inter Monaro) only to struggle and be kicked to the curb?
And how tough are Canberrans as supporters when their clubs struggle?
We’ve seen this throughout the years in other sports, particularly in rugby codes and it seems unlikely that the A-League would be any different.
And with the arrival of the Raiders and later the Brumbies, not to mention the Capitals, the contest for ticket sales and corporate dollars is too much to be able to support yet another team, especially when the FFA is struggling to support individual clubs, let alone sustain the league.
Teams with far bigger fan-bases like North Queensland and Gold Coast previously tried their luck to no avail, and now Newcastle’s future is under a dark cloud.
Sadly, given current circumstances, it just seems like a fish too big to fry for a city like Canberra.
It seems that the FFA has likely decided that if the A-League is to be sustainable it needs to prioritise, that means for the sake of the league, Western Sydney is higher on the agenda than one in Canberra.
While this is a big blow for fans in Canberra, take a moment and view the situation from the eyes of the FFA.
Amid all administrative circuses behind the A-League (given this may be partially their fault) and the collapse of Canberra’s former top tier men’s soccer franchises, the result is that the FFA simply cannot afford to place blind faith in such an optimistic campaign.
For all the attempts made by Ivan Slavich, the man behind the Canberra bid, at the end of the day he could not raise enough capital from sponsors or the public.
In the last financial year alone, A-League clubs lost $27 million and it’s projected they can expect similar losses again.
So what guarantee does the FFA have that Canberra will produce a team able to compete in the national competition, as well as provide revenue and fill stadiums? None.
It seems to be a simple case of risk versus reward, and the FFA isn’t going to take any more chances with the financial situation the A-League is in at the moment, so how can you blame them?
At least one positive can be drawn from all this.
Ivan Slavich has promised he will return invested money to all 2000 foundation investors, and they should be thankful, rarely can A-League investors expect money back.
To avoid messy situations with a possible Canberra club in the future, the solution is simple.
If the FFA wants a team in Canberra, they should be a push to gain funding from the ACT government, and whatever deficit remains, they meet halfway (like they did for Western Sydney).
However, for now, with the state of disaster surrounding A-League management, there could not be a worse time for Canberra to enter the competition.
For the best chance at being a real contender in the League, Canberra should wait at least the next three to five years and reassess.