Gold Coast And Townsville Set For A-League
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TWO new teams for the Hyundai A-League next season have been confirmed by Football Federation Australia.
Teams from the Gold Coast and Townsville will expand the Hyundai A-League to a ten team competition for its fifth season.
Speaking from Skilled Park on the Gold Coast, FFA CEO Ben Buckley said today it was another “fantastic news day” for the Hyundai A-League.
“The Gold Coast is a vitally important region for football," he said.
“It is one of the fastest growing regions in the country with a population already over half a million and a strong level of participation and interest in the sport.
“We know that the people of the Gold Coast enjoy supporting local teams and I have no doubt Skilled Park will be one of the best home grounds in the country.”
Buckley said that the Gold Coast should also be an attractive team for players and coaches.
“Having a local team will also help encourage talented young players from the region, as it gives them a clear pathway into Australia’s premier competition.”
Gold Coast born players currently participating in the Hyundai A-League include Karl Dodd, David Dodd, Griffin McMaster, Mitch Nichols and Tom Oar.
Gold Coast’s CEO Clive Mensink echoed Buckley’s delight.
“This is absolutely tremendous news for the Gold Coast," he said.
“FFA has worked with us tirelessly to finalise our bid and to get this club up and running. We thank them for their diligence and attention throughout the process."
He added: “As a club, we want to contribute as much as we can to the long term enrichment and development of the game.
"That begins with harnessing support and input from the Gold Coast community, then producing a successful, entertaining team for them to support and be proud of.
“This is a fantastic outcome and we couldn’t be happier, and it is only the beginning of what is an exciting new era for football on the Gold Coast.”
Buckley said that a license has also been approved for the Townsville-based North Queensland consortium but final legal documentation is yet to be completed.
He added: “North Queensland has met all the commercial criteria we set for them last month, including local community and business support which has been terrific.
“Like the Gold Coast, North Queensland people are very proud of their local teams.
“We know that there are many people in the city of Townsville, and beyond, who are looking forward to the Hyundai A-League being part of the North Queensland sporting landscape.
“North Queensland has a fine record of producing outstanding home grown players, and having a local Hyundai A-League team will be another impetus to encourage more talented young footballers.”
Current Hyundai A-League players from North Queensland include Steve Corica, Tahj Minniecon, Mitchell Langerak and Michael Thwaite.
Other former prominent players from North Queensland include Socceroo great, Frank Farina, Glenn Gwynne, Wayne Srhoj, Shane Stefannuto, Kasey Wehrman and Jason Polak.
North Queensland FC consortium head Don Matheson said he was also delighted to have the licence approved.
“I would like to thank Ben and all his people at FFA for their patience and hard work with us," said Matheson.
“It’s been a fast and furious four weeks since we were granted exclusive negotiation rights and it has been very rewarding to see the wonderful response from local people.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to finalise the legal paperwork.
“We’re all so committed to the long term future growth of football and of ensuring North Queensland is a leading team in the Hyundai A-League in the years to come.”
Buckley estimated it would be a few weeks before all legal requirements were finalised between North Queensland FC and FFA but reiterated this was the only matter outstanding.
“Expansion of the Hyundai A-League is a critical issue to the continuing evolution and growth of football and this is a very exciting day for FFA, everyone involved in the Hyundai A-League, Gold Coast United and North Queensland,” said Buckley.
He reiterated the FFA’s earlier view that, ultimately, the Hyundai A-League has the capacity to be at least a 12 team competition and possibly 14 teams.
Buckley also confirmed that FFA is continuing discussions with a number of consortia on the basis of a successful entry in to the Hyundai A-League in 2010-11.