Now or never for Illawarra A-League aspirations

FOOTBALL

If the FFA's rumoured third Sydney A-League team in the south of the harbour city doesn't involve the Illawarra it could mean the end of the region's chances for a long, long time.

Reports during the past week suggest the league is looking to expand with Sutherland said to be the likely destination.

With a further two teams hoped to be added in the competition by 2017, momentum seems to be building that one will come somewhere around Sydney with the Campbelltown and Liverpool area also said to be in consideration.

If the Illawarra doesn't feature in those plans it would be a massive blow for the region and its supporters who have long fought for a return to the national fray.

These same fans watched the Wollongong Wolves claim back-to-back NSL titles more than a decade ago before their untimely departure in 2004.

Subsequently, the rise of the A-League has given new hope for a return.

Yet with two clubs already in the harbour city and two more a stones throw away on the north coast, a fifth team in NSW would more than likely rule out further expansion in the state for the near future.

Potential additions in Canberra, Geelong and in Queensland are more viable to enter the league than a sixth organisation within close proximity to Sydney.

While any location in the south of Sydney would undoubtedly target football fans from the Illawarra region to support the club, it is hardly the ideal result. Wollongong wants and needs a team of our own.

Time and time again the region has shown it has the support to launch an A-League bid with more than 6500 people turning up to last season's preseason friendly between Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets.

But a team with a more Sydney-focused approach could see those hopes dashed.

The reports come just days before the South Coast Wolves FFA Cup destiny will be decided on Friday when the competition's main draw is announced.

While the club won't get the opportunity to meet an A-League opponent in the first round, a win against another National Premier League squad could set up a dream clash.

For many Wolves players it would be their first exposure to football at such an elite level and I hope they get the chance.

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