Macarthur South-West Sydney and Western Melbourne (which resides in the Geelong area) are the teams that will receive the licence to participate in the A-League. The winners of the months-long bid were finally revealed on Thursday afternoon, after a lengthy meeting at the Football Federation of Australia’s head offices.The announcement came as a bit of a surprise, considering neither club had really been talked about, even from the start of the campaign, and they certainly did not appear to be in such a favourable position as Team 11, Canberra or even South Melbourne.
Following the announcement, the FFA held a press conference in the presence of chairman, Chris Nikou and CEO, David Gallop, to explain the reasoning behind the selection.
It was stated that the issue of distance came up as a significant factor in the decision making, which immediately made any offer from outside the wider Sydney or Melbourne areas difficult to accept.
As Mr Nikou explained, it’s hard for fans to have to get on a plane all the time just to go and watch a football game.
And so they were left with just the bids from within those two cities, out of which the Macarthur and Western Melbourne bids made most sense, given that they would rejuvenate these two areas and bring more life into them, whilst not upsetting the balance within the A-League, since they’re not really close to the area of influence of any of the other clubs (Sydney FC, Mariners, Wanderers or Victory and City).
They then went on to assure clubs who were unsuccessful in their bids that they will have more chances in the near future, considering the number of teams to be added in the top-tier Australian football league has not, as yet, been decided.
Following the announcement, Neos Kosmos spoke with South Melbourne’s chairman, Bill Papastergiadis, who reaffirmed his club’s position to reach the place they feel they belong, with their history, their service and their social status in mind:
“We’re not going away. We aim to be in the A-League, come what may. This is not the end for South Melbourne. It’s a club that’s been around for 60 years and it’ll be around for another 60.
“We are the most successful club in Australia, with the best youth development, women’s league and school’s program, that’s not changing…
“It’s a question of time, but you cannot keep a good club down. And our fans and supporters will rally behind us to ensure that’s the case.”
When asked if the club would be interested in participating in a newly-formed ‘B-League’, should their future attempts for the A-League prove unsuccessful, Papastergiadis did not seem too keen and revealed that even though there are ongoing discussions in regards to a second division, there is currently no thought given toward relegation-promotion.
In a statement released by South Melbourne, chairman Papastergiadis said that the choice of Western Melbourne meant that their own catchment area in the south-east of the city remained unaffected, making them a viable choice for the future.
Western Melbourne will participate in next season’s A-League (2019/20), while Macarthur South-West will require more time and are scheduled to enter the competition the following year (2020/21).