Sydney set for another A-League side
A western Sydney team will play in the A-League next season, Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley has confirmed.
Speaking to the media in Sydney today, Buckley announced the establishment of a new club for an area considered by some as football's heartland in Australia.
With prime minister Julia Gillard and local MPs in attendance, Buckley said the FFA believes both the timing and model is right for an A-League club in western Sydney.
"Yes, it has taken time to get an A-League club into western Sydney, but now the time is right, and I believe that the model is right," Buckley said. "We intend to build a model that incorporates the community."
The new club will have just six months to be ready, assuming the A-League begins in October as it did this season.
Despite the tight timeframe, Buckley confirmed the FFA considers the establishment of a western Sydney club as a crucial step in the league's development. "This is a major strategic investment from the FFA in the future of football," Buckley added.
Speaking prior to Buckley, Gillard announced the federal government would provide A$8million in funding toward football in western Sydney.
The funding would focus on grass-roots participation, including A$1million towards women's football, as well as the redevelopment of Football NSW's headquarters at Valentine Sports Park, in the western suburb of Glenwood, which may double as the administration centre for the new A-League entity.
Buckley dismissed concerns the new franchise will not be ready in time for the new A-League season, and expressed confidence they have the model to be successful.
The FFA will fund the new club themselves with the hope of a community model taking over in the near future. But the first jobs which need taking care of are appointing a chief executive and board, establishing the club's name and colours, and appointing a coaching staff and playing group, with the campaign's kick-off just six months away.
Despite the short timeframe, Buckley insisted the new club would be ready to go and believes having the team in a region considered the heartland of football in the country would ensure its success.
"We've been working on a team in western Sydney for some months. It's not something we've just started on today," Buckley said. "We've been talking with the local community, the local councils and possible stadia.
"We have a prospective list of CEO's and candidates to run the football department. We've been in discussions with prospective coaches.
"We're very confident we can have a successful club and a successful team up and running come the first match of the 2012/13 A-League season.
"It's the most populous playing region in the country and has been the supplier of some of the best talent for the Socceroos and Matildas. The people of western Sydney, their football fans and participants deserve a team."
He confirmed the members of local clubs and community would have a say in establishing a name for the new club and its colours, which they hope to have finalised within the next month.