Sydney will have a second A-League soccer team from the 2012-13 season that will be funded by governing body Football Federation Australia for the first two to three years.
The FFA said the club will be based in the western suburbs of Australia’s most-populous city, an area which already is home to four National Rugby League teams and Australian Football League newcomer Greater Western Sydney Giants.
“It has taken time to get a club into western Sydney,” FFA Chief Executive Officer Ben Buckley said at a televised news conference. “But I believe that the time is right and I believe that the model is right. This is a major strategic investment by FFA in the future of the game.”
The announcement of the new franchise comes five weeks after the FFA revoked the license held by Gold Coast United’s billionaire owner Clive Palmer. Buckley said a decision on the Gold Coast’s future will be made “within the next 24 hours,” adding that the A-League will feature 10 teams next season.
Although the new Sydney club will be owned by the FFA, it will be run by a separate board and management team that will have “absolute autonomy” in the hiring of coaches and players and the club’s brand identity, Buckley said.
“It will run and operate like every other club in the A-League,” he said. “We will explore a community ownership model. We think that we can use this club as a benchmark that others may want to follow in time.”
FFA will ask local communities to help pick the name, colors and logo. With the 2012-13 A-League season scheduled to start in October, Buckley said the team would be up and running in six months.
“We just didn’t decide to do this in the last 24 hours,” he said. “We’ve been planning this for some time.”
Former Australia national team goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who played for Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea in England after growing up in western Sydney, said having a professional club in the area was vital for the growth of soccer in the country.
“The one area in the whole of Australia, forget New South Wales, that produces the best footballers, that has the most support for football, is western Sydney,” Bosnich told Fox Sports. “You have to have a team in your heartland.”