If Gold Coast United can’t be saved, perhaps it’s finally time FFA looked to the nation’s capital, where conditions look ideal for a new Hyundai A-League club.
Recent speculation linking Canberra with an A-League licence have certainly hit a chord with football fans in the ACT and beyond.
It does seem perverse that the nation-s capital does not have a team in the national competition. Though the same can be said about its lack of an AFL team, the difference is that the ACT has a well-developed football culture and ready-made football facilities.
It is hard to disagree with the bid-s front-man, Ivan Slavich, that the combination of favourable terms at Bruce Stadium and AIS (or Australian National University) training facilities, cheap office space and transport infrastructure all point towards a ready made club.
FFA seem to be moving away from the previous strategy of handing the keys to the sweet shop over to wealthy businessmen in of favour community based models, which have stronger links to the area and lay the foundations for an on-going local connection with the club to outlast any passing interest in a team viewed as a plaything of the rich by locals.
Canberrans interested in the team could include Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Matthew Kemp, for starters. Its relatively close location to the major NSW population centres makes it as a viable option for players from those areas that are not yet locked down to a contract for next season.
Names like Scott Jamieson, Shannon Cole and Labinot Haliti spring to mind. Throw in the likes of Kristian Rees, Roddy Vargas, Tommy Pondeljak, Todd Howarth, Dylan Macallister, Kasey Wehrmann, Nigel Boogaard (all of whom are off-contract for next season), and you have the basis of a decent team.
The team could pick the eyes out of the best Gold Coast players – two goalkeepers are immediately available in Glen Moss and Jerrad Tyson. Zac Anderson, Josh Brillante, Jake Barker-Daish and Mitch Cooper would all be great rookie pick ups on budget salaries.
That-s without considering any NYL or AIS players (Jack Green, for one, is a current Canberran at the AIS who tipped for great things), Aussies currently overseas or visa players
Coaches? How about Ron Smith, Tom Sermanni, Steve O-Connor, Ante Juric, Milo Milovanovic and Ray Junna? Any of those guys individually or as a combination would be interesting choices with links to the area if a local feel is deemed essential.
Football Director? Perhaps the most famous Canberran footballer of all-time – Ned Zelic.
Potential marquees could be Joe Simunic or Carl Valeri, both Canberrans.
Financially, there don-t seem to be any obstacles – reports suggest that $4m in deposits is ready to go from investors, 2000 foundation members have signed up, 20,000 pledge signatures, with $10m ACT state funding pledged over time too.
Although a shame for Gold Coast, it may be easier to start from scratch in a new market like Canberra, free from preconceptions, bridges burned, and existing player contracts, than try and fix the post-Palmer mess up there.
Noble as the concept of keeping Gold Cost on life support is, FFA need to make sure the 10-team model works in the short term as they cannot afford another failure at a time when the TV rights renegotiation is looming. Gold Coast Mk II might just be too much of a gamble for them, as could rushing through a GWS bid still in its embryonic stge.
Usually in Australia, when Canberra calls, the rest of the country jumps. Maybe FFA could do worse than follow suit. The Westfield W-League team, Canberra United, are the current champions – could the men-s title also find its way to nation-s capital in the near future too?