With the unforunate demise of Gold Coast United, there has been speculation about where the next A-League team could come from. The most obvious place is Western Sydney. Something that should have been done years ago, before trying teams in Townsville or the Gold Coast.
It is somewhat puzzling why the FFA went for those locations. I would venture that Townsville was to impress FIFA to show that our World Cup bid was truly national, and Gold Coast was because they probably saw a demographic report that showed that the Gold Coast was one of the greatest growth areas in Australia and thought that they should place a team there. I am speculating of course. Maybe the FFA did do a very detailed analysis. But the fact remains that the Northern Fury was dropped like a hot mango after our World Cup bid failed, and we all know what has happened Gold Coast United. Being taken away from Clive Palmer who, between becoming a national treasure and telling Wayne Swan how to run the country, has created an alternative universe of Australian footballdom.
I do hope that the FFA will get Western Sydney right. It is a growth area and it has a long football tradition, unlike the AFL which most probably will pour millions of dollars to make an impact and get some traction.
But I have been intrigued by some comments in forums aout the next team being Tasmania or Canberra. I know that football fans in these areas have done a lot of work in bidding for an A-League team, and I do hope that there will be a Tasmanian or Canberra team in the future, but I can’t see why rationally they should be placed ahead of a Western Sydney team. I may be wrong, but both areas do not strike me, unlike Western Sydney, areas which have had strong football traditions. Canberra had the have the Raiders in the NRL and from what I can see Tasmania is Australian Rules through and through. When I read comments saying that there are plenty of people playing football in either Tasmania and Canberra, I would say that experience has shown that this does not necessarily translate necessarily in a strong following of an A-League team. Players play football but then follow the AFL or the NRL and are not intested in the local teams or follow a team overseas.
Again, by all means, let’s have a team in Tasmania, Canberra and even Wollongong (I still remember the Wolves from the NSL days) but let’s find areas where football has had a bit of a traditon first.
UPDATE 22/3/12 Very interesting article by Justin Tickner about the A-League expansion. He makes a very good case why maybe Canberra should be the next team and we should wait for Western Sydney. http://www.ultimatealeague.com/blog/2012/03/why-the-a-league-expansion-strategy-is-an-upside-down-pyramid/