EXCLUSIVE: Canberra’s A-League team could be ready to join the A-League as early as this October, say bid chiefs - but they remain bemused by the on-again-off-again overtures from the FFA.
Canberra’s A-League bid boss Ivan Slavich yesterday met FFA CEO Ben Buckley to discuss various issues.
The meeting was prompted after FFA Chairman Frank Lowy put Canberra back in the mix on Tuesday night with his appearance on Fox Sports FC.
''Without being too definite, I think I can tell you that we actually have three opportunities now,'' Lowy said in response to the Gold Coast United-Clive Palmer saga.
''Discussion with the new Gold Coast people, Canberra is still interested, and there's a real opportunity in the western suburbs [of Sydney].
“Our objective is to have a 10-team competition.”
Slavich said his phone has run hot since the remarks, with player agents, potential GMs and media requests.
And while Canberra remains interested, the priority strategy is for western Sydney to be the next expansion area to join the A-League.
With this as a stated ambition of the FFA in the post Gold Coast licence saga wash-up, Slavich publicly conceded just two weeks ago that the bid was doomed.
However Canberra believe right now, reality outweighs strategy and are out there pushing their case again - something they've done for most of the last three years.
And the reality they argue is that Canberra has an A-League ready stadium with an excellent surface, AIS training facilities, Government backing, almost 2000 foundation members and 20,000 pledge signatures, community support, healthy grassroots player numbers, a champion W-League side and $4m in pledges.
Yet, the fact that the Capital club is now back on the A-League agenda again, is slightly bemusing to the club.
“I was definitely surprised by them [remarks] because it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for us," admitted Slavich." It’s been off-on-off-on. It’s been unbelievable.
“My understanding it was off the agenda, then Frank came out last night and said it was on again."
The club has kept in touch with the FFA but the comments have stirred up interest in the media and on social media.
As for potential players, Slavich did not specifically refer to local rising star Tom Rogic.
But he said the club would target Canberra-born talent should they get the A-League green light at some point in the future.
“Just look at the number of players who’ve come through Canberra’s system,” he said.
Ned Zelic, Zeljko Susa, Carl Valeri and Mariner Rogic are just some of the names that have learnt their trade in the ACT.
Slavich said that he’d already been approached by a number of potential CEOs should the club get up.
But at this stage, Canberra in the A-League remains speculation. However, if Canberra is required, they are set to give it a go for A-League season eight.
He added: “It would take a tremendous amount of work in a short period of time but I’m confident. We’re well organised and have structures in place.”
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