The A-League expansion battle has escalated, with the Wollongong Wolves officially declaring they’re ready to launch their bid, in an emotional plea to fans.
In a document obtained by the Mercury, the NSW National Premier League club chief executive Chris Papakosmas has written an open letter appealing for support from the community.
It comes less than a month after rivals Southern Expansion announced their blueprint for the region, as part of a joint bid with the St George and Sutherland associations.
In the letter, titled “journey to the A-League”, Papakosmas outlines the Wolves territory will cover Helensburgh to Eden, confirming they would play all games at WIN Stadium.
With the May 24 expressions of interest deadline on the horizon, Papakosmas declared “our submission will be diligently researched, well presented and very exciting”.
“We are working hard to ensure that our expression of interest will lead to us being shortlisted for ongoing negotiation and discussions with the FFA, with a view to returning our regions people to the highest level of football in Australia,” the letter reads.
“Proving community support is crucial.
“We need you, and all the football fans of our regions, to unite and provide a groundswell that is hard to ignore. Let’s demonstrate to the rest of Australia a groundswell of support for our team, the hunger and passion we have for football and our desire to return to the national stage.”
The Wolves were National Soccer League champions in 1999-00 after producing the memorable comeback from 3-nil down against the Glory in Perth to win on penalties.
They then won the grand final again the following season against South Melbourne.
“We have been there in the past – we have been very successful in the past – we are coming back and we are striving to be successful in the future,” Papakosmas writes in the letter.
The since the glory days, the club faced tumultuous times on and off the field, following the demise of the NSL and a number of leadership and board changes.
However, they have staged a recent revival, attracting a big crowd for the FFA Cup clash against A-League powerhouse Sydney FC and securing a new training base at Albert Butler Park.
They are sixth on the NSW National Premier League ladder, five points off the lead, with Japanese stars Takuya Nozawa and Yuzo Tashiro, as well as ex-A-League players Justin Pasfield and Nick Montgomery in the squad.
At a press conference in Wollongong last month, Southern Expansion chairman Morris Iemma declared their bid was superior.
“With no disrespect to the Wollongong Wolves bid,” Iemma said. “The criteria and the actual numbers that are required would suggest that’s possibly not the best way to achieve A-League status.”
FSC chairman Eddy de Gabriele maintains the region’s governing body’s preference is to have a Wollongong stand-alone team, with the FFA outlining plans to include two new A-League clubs in 2019-20.
Click on the image below to read the open letter to Wolves fans