Cronulla Sharks open to owning Southern Sydney A-League club licence

Cronulla Sharks CEO Lyall Gorman has revealed the National Rugby League club would consider owning the licence for a Southern Sydney A-League side if Football Federation Australia decide to base an expansion team in the region.

A-League Rd 1 - Western Sydney v Central Coast

Source: Getty Images



With incoming Head of A-League Greg O'Rourke confirming last month that he was in support of the 10-team A-League expanding in the future, speculation about where a new team would be based was reignited.

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Late last year, FFA chief executive David Gallop stated the national governing body's desire for expansion clubs to be based in cities of populations in the millions, as opposed to in the hundreds of thousands, giving more rise to talk about a third Sydney-based club.

"I think there’s room for integrated models, we’ve seen them globally, where you can have more than one code playing under a national brand," Gorman told SBS World News.

"We’re looking for other opportunities under our brand, where we can grow the brand that is the Sharks."

Gorman, the former Head of the A-League, has had a massive impact on the Sharks since being appointed CEO in November 2014.

He arrived with Cronulla in a perilous position after years being embroiled in the ASADA drugs scandal left them struggling to attract major sponsors.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Sharks are flying high on and off the field.

The club is enjoying their highest home crowd average since 2005 and just had a 15-match winning streak.

An integral part of the Western Sydney Wanderers’ meteoric rise – Gorman has no doubt a Southern Sydney A-League club would be a success.

"This is an incredibly logical area - it is rich in football history," Gorman said.

"Its participation rate is remarkable, we have a venue here (Southern Cross Group Stadium), we know the pride and passion, we are seeing that replicated in our NRL team now."

And Gorman believes the Southern Sydney A-League club should encompass the St George, Sutherland Shire and Illawarra associations.

"To be able to unite that as we did in Western Sydney and bring it together as one strong voice and one strong representation in, to be really frank, the global game - would be a very special opportunity," Gorman said.

While being part of an ownership model is something the Sharks would consider down the track, Gorman said the NRL club is keen to be the home stadium of the proposed A-League outfit.

"From a venue perspective at the moment - we are very available to have those discussions," Gorman said.

"We had discussions with the FFA about 18 months ago when they were doing a whole lot of preliminary research - should they ever contemplate expansion.

"Should expansion occur into the future, the FFA is very aware of this venue (Southern Cross Group Stadium) and what it could offer.

"They're very aware of the history of this region and what it could bring to the game and the value it would bring to a national competition."

SBS World News obtained figures that show the popularity of football in the Sutherland Shire area is at an all-time high.

The number of registered players with the Sutherland Shire Football Association for 2016 is 19,192 - believed to be the highest total in the Southern Hemisphere.

Of those, 12,160 are males (8,260) and females (3,900) aged 18 or under.

That number is greater than the total number of registered players from 26 of Football NSW’s 34 associations last year.




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3 min read
Published 10 August 2016 at 7:20pm
By Adrian Arciuli
Source: SBS