South Coast's A-League hopes dashed

By Joel Ritchie
Updated November 5 2012 - 9:25am, first published April 20 2009 - 1:50am
Eddy de Gabriele

The South Coast's crusade for an A-League team of its own is over after bid chairman Eddy De Gabriele conceded the Wollongong consortium must embrace western Sydney to have any hope of being included in 2010-11.With Football Federation Australia (FFA) to name two new expansion franchises in June, De Gabriele proclaimed a team playing home games at WIN Stadium without an upgraded western grandstand would not be admitted.That, plus the FFA's desire for a team in western Sydney, prompted the South Coast bid - which planned to play all its games in Wollongong - to revamp its proposal to include centres such as Parramatta and Campbelltown in its territory.De Gabriele admitted that if the enhanced bid gained entry, A-League games would only be played at WIN Stadium once the western grandstand was improved.Matches would be split between western Sydney and Wollongong if or when the State Government approved a new grandstand at WIN Stadium."The western grandstand is going to be a problem for us and we have taken on board that the FFA want a presence in western Sydney," De Gabriele said."The first season, we would have problems playing there (WIN Stadium)."They don't believe that WIN Stadium's western grandstand is a venue for A-League."De Gabriele said the compromise - the new club playing in western Sydney until WIN Stadium was improved - was the South Coast's best hope for A-League football.NSW Premier Nathan Rees said in November an upgrade was not on the Government's list of priorities and De Gabriele didn't expect an announcement before the two new teams were announced.''I'm not confident we'll get a decision on the western grandstand in the next two months and that would scuttle the South Coast A-League bid,'' De Gabriele said.''If we don't get the money by June we won't get it (an A-League licence).''De Gabriele conceded the club could no longer be known as South Coast, but vowed it wouldn't be called Parramatta or West Sydney.However, Parramatta Stadium was an ''obvious'' candidate for Leg 1the outfit's home base if it gains entry for the sixth A-League season.The South Coast bid is competing with groups from Canberra, Tasmania and western Sydney for the 12th spot - a second Melbourne franchise is all but assured of securing the 11th licence. Expansion clubs North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United will become the A-League's ninth and 10th teams in August.The Wollongong bid started considering its options in February after FFA chief executive Ben Leg 2Buckley publicly endorsed the possibility of South Coast expanding to Sydney's west.De Gabriele said the bid had two choices: stand pat and risk missing out completely or embrace Sydney's west and take the inside running.''What we'll be saying to the FFA is our board is from here, but here is our enhanced bid, you want western Sydney - we'll do that for you, but we want South Coast too,'' De Gabriele said.He was confident the State Government would fund a new Leg 3stand if the FFA granted his group an A-League licence.''If we got an A-League licence I would be very confident that the State Government would support the funds for the redevelopment of the western grandstand,'' De Gabriele said.''When the western grandstand gets done we would move games to WIN Stadium.''De Gabriele said the club's training and administration facilities would still be based at North Wollongong PCYC, per the original Wollongong-only bid.

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