In what could be a crippling blow to South Coast’s future A-League chances, the competition boss yesterday revealed it could expand into Asia when it stretches beyond its current 10 clubs.
While that’s not expected to be for another four years, the league is likely to dip its toe in the water by staging games in Asia as soon as the 2014-15 season.
Already there’s interest from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
‘‘There’s no reason why you can’t look seriously at games and even certainly clubs being based in different parts of Asia,’’ the head of the A-League, Damien de Bohun, said yesterday.
‘‘Perth Glory played a game in Malaysia, just outside of Singapore, [in] a pre-season match; they had 27,000 people there.
‘‘They built a brand new stadium with a roof there that holds 50,000 that they want to play a club out of and they’re meeting with us on that.’’
Later, de Bohun said the four seasons of the A-League’s new broadcast deal, which for the first time includes a free-to-air television component through SBS, would be devoted to ensuring the 10 clubs are successful and sustainable.
When the next deal is negotiated, they’ll look at a bigger competition.
With Australia due to host the Asian Cup in January 2015, de Bohun said some A-League games would need to be played away from regular venues.
‘‘We have had active discussions with places like Singapore, like Indonesia.
‘‘I was down in Hobart with Melbourne Victory last week – that’s another option,’’ he said.
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said soccer’s global standing was part of the reason it would become Australia’s most popular sport.
‘‘As the world gets smaller, football gets bigger. We will become the largest and most popular sport in the country – one day,’’ he said.
Gallop said the code had witnessed unprecedented growth over the past two seasons, with a 40 per cent increase in crowds and 100 per cent boost in TV ratings.
He heaped praised on marquee stars Alessandro Del Piero (Sydney FC), Emile Heskey (Newcastle) and Shinji Ono (Western Sydney) – who were the face of the A-League in their debut seasons last year.
Gallop said it meant plenty that all three players are staying.
‘‘That was a vote of confidence in the A-League that is immeasurable in terms of underlying where football is at in this country – the increase in the technical standards, the intensity of our competition.’’ - AAP