Tassie Push For A-League Boost
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EXCLUSIVE: Tasmania's A-League taskforce is locked in talks to secure crucial cash backing from a major naming-rights sponsor as officials prepare for a make or break deadline.
The results of a feasibility study commissioned to examine the chances of a successful franchise are expected by early 2009 and a decision whether to proceed or call time on the A-League dream will be made by next April.
If it is felt that all the necessary boxes have been ticked then the aim is to see a Tasmania United franchise ready for action by August 2010.
Entry into the A-League would not be likely until the 2011/12 season but taskforce chairman John McGirr is adopting a ‘sooner the better’ approach to preparations.
And they believe they will have the start up figure of $5-$7m generally seen as the minimum requirement to grab the FFA’s attention for a franchise.
McGirr told au.fourfourtwo.com today: “We are confident we can raise the necessary finances, show we have a suitable venue and demonstrate community support.”
Both Hobart and Launceston would be used as bases for the Tasmania United franchise and officials are confident that support would be there, especially with over 14,000 registered players in the state.
An official Tasmania United website will be launched in the next few weeks - another important forum for the public to register support for an A-League team - and a logo has been decided upon.
McGirr and his team met with FFA officials last week for an informal discussion, although no formal presentation bid was made as such.
“The FFA was complimentary regarding our progress to date," he said.
"And we are confident that we will be able to present an extremely strong business case to both FFA and the Tasmanian community and intend to be ready to put a formal proposal for an A-League license by mid-2009.
“Maybe we’d be looking at being the 13th or 14th side for inclusion but next April will be crunch time in assessing whether we progress or say we don’t go on.
“If we are able to go on then ideally we’d want to go to the FFA and say we will be ready to go in August 2010, then it’s up to you,” said McGirr.
Cash is crucial and to that end the Tasmanian Taskforce is already making progress. McGirr said: “We are talking to a major Tasmanian brand, one of the top three recognisable brands, about becoming a naming rights sponsor and we’re also looking for private enterprise support on the feasibility study.”
The Taskforce chairman said getting such a sponsor to commit would be significant in that it would strengthen efforts to get others on board.
He said: "You find that once you get one then it really helps in attracting others to join up as well."
The Taskforce feels Tasmania United has the potential to capture the imagination of sports fans in the state and efforts are already being made to ensure that a Tasmanian team would have players ready to perform.
Hobart-based coach Ken Morton has been appointed as football advisor and he is already using his network of contacts to lay the foundations for future recruitment.
McGirr said: “It’s about being as prepared as you can be and being able to move quickly when you need to.
"We feel there is a window there to capture the imagination."