Winds of FFA change blow towards A-League expansion

Last stand?: Steven Lowy and David Gallop with recently departed Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. Picture: Michele Mossop/Fairfax Media
Last stand?: Steven Lowy and David Gallop with recently departed Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. Picture: Michele Mossop/Fairfax Media

As the power play continues, there’s so much more at stake.

The stand-off between the FFA powerbrokers and, well, pretty much everyone else involved in football in Australia will eventually be resolved.

The question is whether FIFA move in with feather-dusters, brick bats or a stick of dynamite and light it in David Gallop’s office. 

One way or another, change will happen.

But the bigger issue is just how much the stalemate about governance and the future of the game will hold back football’s growth and expansion in Australia.

As Mercury columnist and Western Sydney Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab said on Friday, “we’ve needed an injection of fresh ideas, innovation and energy for a while”.

Part of the problem with empire-building is the need to dig a moat to protect a finite amount.

The NRL has the same issue in terms of self-interest and a lack of willingness to test new markets.

Of course, Football Federation Australia has been burnt before.

Rich blokes with wads of cash have resulted in the rise and staggering collapse of Gold Coast United and the near-death experience at the Newcastle Jets.

But this should be a perfect time for broadening our horizons – the Socceroos have qualified for Russia next year and the Matildas could genuinely win the next World Cup.

There’s a reasonable argument to say the Matildas are the most exciting product in Australian sport at the moment.

Investment of the responsible and stable kind is vital for the development of professional sport in the Australian economy.

Football in this country – sokkah – is more than a curiosity internationally these days.

Manchester City felt the need to invest in Melbourne City – nee Heart – as their most far-flung outpost. 

Most recently Scottish champions Celtic have held discussions about tipping money into the Central Coast Mariners.

If the A-League is to move to 12 or 14 teams, it would be impossible for Southern Expansion, Football South Coast, the Wollongong Wolves or whoever is the last Illawarra bid standing not to listen to an international giant suddenly knocking at their door. And there is still an expectation expansion will happen before the promotion-relegation trapdoor is put in place, as Wolves chief executive Chris Papakosmas told this column this week.

But no-one with enough cents or sense would invest without a framework and timeline for expansion in place. 

Which brings me back to the original point. 

Change will happen, but with it needs to come a true vision for the future.