Which city should the A-League expand to next?

Charles Goldstraw Roar Rookie

By Charles Goldstraw, Charles Goldstraw is a Roar Rookie


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    The year is 2018. Attendances and memberships have gone up rapidly over the past four years and the FFA has decided it’s time to add an expansion team to the now thriving A-League.

    But nobody can seem to agree on which city shall receive the A-League license. Here are the candidates.

    Population: 374,658 (all populations are from a study conducted in 2012)
    Possible stadium: Canberra Stadium

    The nation’s capital is home to the most well supported side in the W-League and two dissolved NSL sides.

    Unfortunately the city’s small population and overwhelming popularity of rugby league in the ACT would make it nearly impossible for a team in Canberra to get many fans through the gate on match day.

    Sunshine Coast
    Population: 285,169
    Possible stadium: Stockland Park

    Queensland State league side Sunshine Coast FC have already shown interest in joining the A-League. The club’s stadium Stockland Park currently has a capacity of 12,000, which is below A-League standard.

    Plans in place to expand the stadium involve turning it into a premier boutique stadium, which a capacity of 15,000 or more. But will an A-League side in this region attract enough support from the local community?

    Population: 512,000
    Possible stadiums: York Park and Bellerive Oval

    A team representing the whole state would be more realistic than giving the license to an individual city. Tassie has had exposure to A-League football with the Melbourne Victory staging pre- season matches and a home game, against Gold Coast United in 2012, in Tasmania.

    The current Tasmanian bid is Tasmania United, who propose to play home matches at both York Park and Bellerive Oval while using Devenport Oval and North Hobart oval for friendlies.

    An A-League side in Tasmania receiving enough support is questionable.

    Population: 1,529,300 metropolitan population (June 2013 estimate)
    Possible stadium: North Harbour Stadium

    Despite the failure of the now defunct New Zealand Knights (based in Auckland), the relative success of the Wellington Phoenix has raised the possibility of a second New Zealand side in the future.

    Phoenix games in Auckland have produced crowds of 15-20,000, which is much higher than the miserable 3,989 which was the New Zealand Knights average attendance for the 2006/07 season.

    A successful expansion to Auckland is unlikely unless lessons are learnt from the Knights’ miserable and unsuccessful time in the A-League.

    Population: 179,042
    Possible stadium: Kardinia Park

    A team in Geelong seems unlikely as it is too close to Melbourne. Melbourne Victory have hosted A-League pre-season matches at Kardinia Park, and are due to play an Asian Champions League qualifier at the venue.

    Greater Geelong Galaxy FC has announced its intention to bid for a National Premier League license, which raised the possibility of the region gaining an A-League licence.

    The prospect of Geelong having a A-League side is very hard to imagine, as it would probably suffer low attendances due to lack of support.

    Population: 171,971
    Possible stadium: Willows Sports Complex

    Since its unfortunate exit from the A-League in 2011, the North Queensland Fury (now re branded as the Northern Fury) has been getting crowds of up to 2,500 to their NPL Queensland games at Townsville Sport Reserve.

    The club is expected field a Youth League side and a W-League side in 2015/16, and from there the clubs looks to gain admittance to the A-League.

    The question remains, though – can Townsville sustain an A-League team the second time around?

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    The Crowd Says (110)

    • January 30th 2014 @ 6:17am
      1860melbourne said | January 30th 2014 @ 6:17am | ! Report

      • Roar Guru

        January 30th 2014 @ 9:35am
        Mike said | January 30th 2014 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Haha, I know a lot of people would be unhappy with international expansion, but I’m all for it personally.

        Obviously I would want Aussie teams to make up the vast majority, but I don’t mind having 1 or 2 in south-east Asia.

        • January 30th 2014 @ 10:14am
          Football United said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          No way, they have their own leagues and travel is ridiculous enough.

          • Roar Guru

            January 30th 2014 @ 12:35pm
            Mike said | January 30th 2014 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            Travel is my biggest concern too. But if all the teams are happy enough and can make it work, then I’ll be happy to watch some great international clashes.

            • January 30th 2014 @ 5:43pm
              keyless sky blues fan said | January 30th 2014 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

              Complete gimic. I will be lost straight away. It’s bad enough having Wellington.

        • January 30th 2014 @ 7:15pm
          pauly said | January 30th 2014 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

          The AFC won’t permit it. I doubt the mooted ASEAN Super League will even come to fruition.

    • January 30th 2014 @ 6:43am
      Andy said | January 30th 2014 @ 6:43am | ! Report

      Ipswich (Western Corridor) was identified as the ‘next big thing’ by David Gallop and his administration while at the NRL.

      Getting into this region would gain a foothold in the fastest growing region in the country, as well as provide the A-League with another blockbuster fixture (Brisbane Derby).

      A team in the Western Corridor will draw support from Logan, to Toowoomba, as well as possibly the Gold Coast (and everywhere between).

      The Western Pride NPL club have registered their interest in gaining an A-League license and they have the support from the local council.

      Splitting SEQ into two teams would create a divide and and generate a lot of interest, playing off the already notable Brisbane/Ipswich divide.

      Despite what people tend to believe, traditionally, Ipswich has always been a Football city. In fact, Australia’s first recorded match of football dates back to this region (1975).

      It’s a no brainier really and with Gallop in charge at the FFA, you can bet that this region will be a favourite for expansion.

      • January 30th 2014 @ 5:45pm
        keyless sky blues fan said | January 30th 2014 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

        Agree with everything you’ve said except the 1975, and the fact that we are in no position to build our own stadium for Ipswich. The stadium issue is massive, is there a way around it? Even a small little Hindmarsh-style stadium would be the entire broadcast revenue for the league for a full season or more ($40m)..

    • January 30th 2014 @ 6:45am
      Gurudoright said | January 30th 2014 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      No Wollongong or Gold Coast as possible expansion sites? ……… Strange.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 30th 2014 @ 7:18am
        Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 7:18am | ! Report

        The people of the Gold Coast made it quite clear the first time that they weren’t interested in a football team.

        • January 30th 2014 @ 10:06am
          Birkish_Delight said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          I think you’ll find that the people of the Gold Coast chose not to support Clive Palmer and his muppet management skills buying a football team to use as leverage in mine negotiations. Gold Coast United, their fans and the Gold Coast in general were all collateral damage to Clive’s business strategy.

          • Roar Rookie

            January 30th 2014 @ 10:42am
            Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:42am | ! Report

            I don’t recall Clive Palmer only allowing 5,000 fans to turn up in the early days. In fact, I recall him saying we’ll, go undefeated throughout the season. They did really good that season and yet the public couldn’t be bothered. Even when we made the whole stadium available for everyone to turn up for free, only 10,000 turned up. Clive, regardless of agenda, he still put his time and money into GC. What did GC public put into the club?

            • January 30th 2014 @ 11:03am
              Birkish_Delight said | January 30th 2014 @ 11:03am | ! Report

              Clive took a “build it and they will come approach” with no regard to building a sense of community or “club”. Everyone saw it as Clive’s toy and many people were wary as to how long he would stay interested and what would happen. Not to mention Clive’s constant public fighting with the FFA, threatening to start a rebel league and Football administration (yes he did have some valid points, but his approach was totally wrong).

              Gold Coast United were also one of the most expensive places to buy a ticket or membership because Clive decided that his team were so good he could charge a premium. This didn’t work because they didn’t engage with the potential support base to create a feeling of belonging and the fact that the Gold Coast was struggling to wade through the aftermath of the GFC with the collapse of the construction and tourism industries meant few people in the area had much disposable income.

              • Roar Rookie

                January 30th 2014 @ 11:55am
                Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                Although what I said was made known to the public, I was unaware entirely of these issues you’ve raised for I do not live on the Coast, so thank you for this information Birkish. Were you a former GCU supporter?

        • Roar Guru

          January 30th 2014 @ 10:23am
          SportsFanGC said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          Passionate Aussie – You are correct on the Gold Coast. I have been up here since 2012 and there appears to be very little to no interest in the game up here. Why that is who knows? I go to Brisbane to watch the Roar so I can get my live games in

          What I can tell you is that the Gold Coast is a multi sport city but their preferences are as follows (in no particular order): Surfing, Surf Life Saving, Water Sports, Rugby League/Union, Aussie Rules, Golf.

          You just need to drive around and see the number of Rugby and Aussie Rules fields here and Golf Courses to see what takes up people’s time. Of course on any given nice day the beaches are packed from the Spit in the North to Coolangatta/D’Bah in the South.

          When the Temperature is up in summer (couple with the humidity) no one here makes the effort to do anything, let alone commit to driving to Skilled Stadium to sit in the heat watching sport.

          Unfortunate but true.

          • January 30th 2014 @ 10:34am
            Australian Rules said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:34am | ! Report

            Absolutely – that post is ‘sport on the GC’ in a nutshell.

            • January 30th 2014 @ 6:24pm
              pauly said | January 30th 2014 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

              i dare say the Suns will soon dominate the Goldy. With Ablett in their lineup, they are one premiership away from making GC an AFL city once and for all.
              Brisbane Roar seem to be the team for all of SEQ.

              • January 30th 2014 @ 7:56pm
                jimbo said | January 30th 2014 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

                AFL wont take over there unless AFL state of origin is brought in, and there is a dominant queensland side, queenslanders love following Queensland.

              • Roar Rookie

                January 30th 2014 @ 9:51pm
                Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 9:51pm | ! Report

                The moment the Lions start winning again the fans will flock back.

              • January 31st 2014 @ 8:29am
                Australian Rules said | January 31st 2014 @ 8:29am | ! Report

                jimbo, Queenslanders *can* follow Queensland – in either the Suns or the Lions.

              • February 1st 2014 @ 8:29am
                Kasey said | February 1st 2014 @ 8:29am | ! Report

                The old saying on the Gold Coast…you’re not a true Gold Coaster unless you’re from Victoria.

    • January 30th 2014 @ 7:18am
      Tony said | January 30th 2014 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      One thing you missed for Canberra is that Queanbeyan is just across the border and combined with the latest population figures there are about 410-415000 people here. it is also projected to get to 500,000 in the next 10 years or so.

      I think since the Cosmos folded the popularity of football compared to league has changed significanly too. With almost 20,000 registered players and talk of a new stadium in the centre of the city Canberra is in a great position for the next expansion just as the new TV deal starts.

      • Roar Guru

        January 30th 2014 @ 10:46am
        jeznez said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        Also failed to mention the Brumbies have higher attendance figures than the Raiders but his article holds together despite that blip.

      • January 30th 2014 @ 3:51pm
        George said | January 30th 2014 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

        You are absolutely correct Tony.

      • January 30th 2014 @ 6:26pm
        Roger said | January 30th 2014 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

        Soccer is big in Canberra, and with the surrounding region well and truly over 500k supporters. It is nonsense that a little boy growing up in Canberra has so much access to grassroots soccer games but only the female players can expect to grow up and play for the W-league… absolute disgrace. No excuse to exclude canberra from A-League if you have a team in W-League. It is the capital.

    • January 30th 2014 @ 7:28am
      Punter said | January 30th 2014 @ 7:28am | ! Report

      Fish where the fishes are!!!!

      Brisbane/Gold Coast?

      • Roar Rookie

        January 30th 2014 @ 8:10am
        Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        Another Adelaide or Perth team maybe? If the fish aren’t there then the fish aren’t on the Gold Coast. Perhaps a rivalry in one or two of those states is what’s needed to gain another boost of support for the A-League.

      • Roar Guru

        January 30th 2014 @ 9:32am
        Mike said | January 30th 2014 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Well that’s essentially what DG has said! He hinted that expansion would be where there are millions of people, which leaves only a handful of cities. Also, the above three cities already have existing teams, which would mean more derbys.

        It could very well be possible that expanding into new markets is done with. The A-League may instead do what AFL and NRL do and expand intra-city only. But then again, I could be wrong. As long as every team in the league is strong both on and off the field, then I’m not overly fussed where they are. 🙂

        • January 30th 2014 @ 11:05am
          Punter said | January 30th 2014 @ 11:05am | ! Report

          Considering the AFL & the NRL are the biggest competitions in this land, it would be stupid not to follow.
          There is a reason why the AFL choose West Sydney ahead of AFL heartland Tasmania or the NRL did not go to Central Coast despite being NRL heartland. They wanted to fish where the fishes are.
          They are not seeking dots on the map

          • Roar Guru

            January 30th 2014 @ 11:29am
            HardcorePrawn said | January 30th 2014 @ 11:29am | ! Report

            I get the impression that a Tasmanian team could do reasonably well enough to attract supporters, as the state has so little national representation in any sport (bar cricket): no AFL team (Hawthorn’s occasional match in Launceston notwithstanding), no rugby team of either code, no football team, no netball team…

            I’ve always suspected that should a Tassie team be formed, to compete in any sport, they’d have the majority of the state behind them.
            While probably never attracting crowds of the size of Melbourne Victory’s or WSW’s, they might just do well enough to turn a profit and compete as a mid-table side.

            Incidentally, the Hurricanes usually attract a fairly satisfactory crowd of about 10,000 to their BBL matches in Hobart. If a football team could get a similar sized average crowd throughout a season it would put them in a similar bracket to Adelaide, Central Coast, Heart, Perth, and Wellington. That could be enough to sustain a club provided they don’t overreach themselves.

            Tasmania United also has a nice ring for a club playing their home games throughout the state too.

            • Roar Guru

              January 30th 2014 @ 12:38pm
              Mike said | January 30th 2014 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

              I’m all for a Tassie team, since there is very little representation there. But if it is ever going to happen, it will likely be something like the 17th or 18th addition to the league. I think the FFA want markets where a 10k average is very viable, instead of just hoping for the best case scenario.

              • January 30th 2014 @ 4:35pm
                fadida said | January 30th 2014 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

                Chuck/Charles will disagree with me here but on Tasmania there is absolutely no chance of crowds anywhere like those of MV or WSW. 5-7k would be the best outcome, meaning they’d need serious financial backing. Much like CCM there’d be no money for a marquee, meaning less crowd appeal.

                As Tasmania is a state not a city I’ll repeat my favourite arguments around why a team there’d struggle
                – split population, southerners don’t like to travel more than 15 minutes from Hobart
                – unfortunately Hobart only has 1 ground that could host games, and it has a cricket pitch in the middle and is the base for the cricket team
                – Launceston has a great surface, but southerners as I say won’t travel. The football centre of Tasmania is Hobart. It is here the passion, culture and numbers are greater – see the issue?
                – an economy in an almighty hole means backing would be an issue. A club would spend the minimumon players meaning in field struggles

              • Roar Rookie

                January 30th 2014 @ 9:53pm
                Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 9:53pm | ! Report

                Jeez, the time I take to travel to a sporting event doubles, triples, sometimes even quadruples 15 minutes!

    • January 30th 2014 @ 9:05am
      Matt said | January 30th 2014 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      Wow always makes me laugh when I read these articles only two seasons ago the A league was on its knees plain and simple! Two sides folded and a couple more in major financial trouble. Then west Sydney come along and everything is wonderful! I know you are talking about four years down the track but how about shoring up the sides that are in the comp right now. The league has made this mistake before in taking the success of one or two seasons and thinking it’s the dawn of football taking over in this country. Football has a fantastic opportunity don’t blow it by expanding to early remember the old saying sometimes less is more.

      • January 30th 2014 @ 9:31am
        Australian Rules said | January 30th 2014 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        The article was imagining an expansion in 2018…6 years after CGU and NQ fell over.

        • Roar Rookie

          January 30th 2014 @ 10:29am
          Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Unfortunately some only read the heading and jump the gun AR.

          • January 30th 2014 @ 10:35am
            Australian Rules said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:35am | ! Report

            It was the first line!

            • Roar Rookie

              January 30th 2014 @ 10:39am
              Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:39am | ! Report

              No need to tell me, I read it.

              • Roar Guru

                January 30th 2014 @ 10:55am
                jeznez said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:55am | ! Report

                Just didn’t read Matt’s comment? 😀

              • Roar Rookie

                January 30th 2014 @ 10:58am
                Passionate_Aussie said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:58am | ! Report

                Precisely 😉

        • Roar Guru

          January 30th 2014 @ 10:54am
          jeznez said | January 30th 2014 @ 10:54am | ! Report

          AR, don’t think you are identifying anything Matt didn’t pick up on. His comment states:

          “only two seasons ago the A league was on its knees plain and simple! Two sides folded and a couple more in major financial trouble. Then west Sydney come along and everything is wonderful! I know you are talking about four years down the track”

          Seems to haved nailed the 6 years hasn’t he?

          • January 30th 2014 @ 12:03pm
            Australian Rules said | January 30th 2014 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

            Noted jez – apologies Matt.

            My eyes skipped over to “The league has made this mistake before in taking the success of one or two seasons and thinking it’s the dawn of football taking over in this country”

            No matter, my bad.

      • January 30th 2014 @ 5:59pm
        keyless sky blues fan said | January 30th 2014 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

        Also don’t forget that the reason alot of traction was lost in season 4 was because an 8 team league got stale too quickly. We are in serious danger of the same happening again, and I feel this is a far bigger threat than the possibility 1 or both of the expansion sides won’t succeed fully. I can forgive failure, but not being a pussy and sitting back watching the league stay still and wait for trouble to re-emerge. Football has a fantastic opportunity, don’t blow it by not expanding until too late- remember the old saying, sometimes if you’re not moving forward you’re moving back.