Wollongong Wolves, Football South Coast map out A-League bid partnership

Eddy de Garbiele and Luke Wilkshire.
Eddy de Garbiele and Luke Wilkshire.

It’s a landmark day in Illawarra football. 

Bridges built. Fences mended. 

Football South Coast chairman Eddy de Gabriele and new Wollongong Wolves ambassador Luke Wilkshire will come together on Friday morning to sign a new declaration, supporting the A-League expansion bid. 

It comes four months after de Gabriele and chief executive Ann-Marie Balliana sat with rival bid Southern Expansion leaders, the former NSW premier Morris Iemma and ex-Socceroo Craig Foster, to declare Football South Coast’s support for the Sydney super bid involving Sutherland and St George.

De Gabriele has maintained FSC always backed a Wollongong stand-alone bid, as the Wolves forced their blueprint to be included in the competition in 2018-19. 

But some doubted there would be a day when the two organisations would publicly join forces. 

On Friday morning, it becomes reality, with the best two bids of the 10-team shortlist to be announced by Football Federation Association, as part of an expanded national competition on October 31.

The meeting is just a week after Wolves chief executive Chris Papokosmas announced a sudden resignation after making the A-League shortlist.

“To have Football South Coast support our bid and to work with us on it is extremely important,” Wolves bid spokesman and two-time Socceroos World Cup player Luke Wilkshire said. 

“If the bid is to be successful, football on the South Coast must band together as one.

“We have the support of our association colleagues in the Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla, Far South Coast, Highlands and Southern Tablelands.

“A positive working relationship with Football South Coast gives our bid even greater credentials – particularly in terms of demonstrating the desire which exists to bring A-League and W-League to our region.”

FSC chairman de Gabriele confirmed “it has always been my preference and that of the board of Football South Coast for our region to have a stand-alone club. We support the Wollongong Wolves bid and we will actively work with them to do whatever we can to assist in that process. We look forward to working together on this and many further initiatives to enhance football.”

Southern plan: Morris Iemma, Ann-Marie Balliana, Eddy De Gabriele and Craig Foster. Picture: Robert Peet

Southern plan: Morris Iemma, Ann-Marie Balliana, Eddy De Gabriele and Craig Foster. Picture: Robert Peet