Expansion criteria delay a 'disgrace' for promising youngsters

One of the driving forces behind the Sunshine Coast expansion bid has labelled Football Federation Australia's expansion criteria delay 'disgraceful'.

Sunshine Coast FC

Sunshine Coast FC logo Source: Facebook

"This is sad news for the whole of Australian football," Brisbane-based businessman Nirav Tripathi told The World Game.

"However, we move forward.

"There are young players from all around Australia, in places such as the Sunshine Coast, who want the opportunity to make it but miss out because of a lack of available top-tier opportunities.

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"It will be a disgrace that 14 and 15-year-olds have to go to offshore to make it as footballers."

Despite his disappointment at the news from Football Federation Australia on Tuesday that the release of expansion criteria was "months rather than weeks" away, Tripathi said he would continue to aim at having a club in an expanded A-League.

"The Diya Football Group will continue to be committed to the expansion of the A-League," he said.

"It is a great product with lots of investment upside on and off the football pitch.

"The Diya Hope Football Academy Group will continue to roll out the academies in partnership with George Weah.

"We will be meeting with Mr Gallop soon."

The World Game reported on January 19 that Tripathi and the other key figure behind the Sunshine Coast bid, local lawyer and football club owner Noel Woodall, were hoping to meet with FFA to get a clearer guide to expansion ahead of the criteria becoming known.

It was originally anticipated the criteria would be released in February, with two clubs to be added in time for the 2018-19 season, but now it is a guessing game as to when the criteria will be finalised.

Tripathi is concerned that uncertainty over when the size of the A-League might be increased encourages promising teenaged footballers to seek opportunities to develop overseas when confirmation of a bigger domestic competition would increase development opportunities here.

FFA said in its media release on Tuesday that decisions related to expansion were now inexorably linked to work that had to be done on developing a new ownership and operating model for both the A-League and W-League.

It said expansion was simply not affordable under the current model, but that the 2018-19 season was still in the frame as a potential date for the A-League to be bumped out to 12 teams.

"While it was too soon to predict when expansion might occur, it would not happen before the 2018-19 season," the release read.

A key figure behind another expansion bid, Wollongong Wolves CEO Chris Papakosmas, was philosophical about the delay in the release of expansion criteria.

"It is what it is," Papakosmas told The World Game. "To us it really makes no difference one way or the other.

"FFA have obviously got a whole range of things on their plate at the moment that they've got to go through. They're not going to rush expansion under any circumstances and if it's going to take them a bit longer to map it out for the best interests of the game, then so be it.

"We're not working on a short time-line or a long time-line, we're been working on what we've got to focus on and concentrate on. When it's time to get serious we'll be more than prepared and ready to get serious."



The Wolves are a club that was formerly successful in the old National Soccer League and have a ready-made venue they play out of at WIN Stadium. The Sunshine Coast bid would have a lot more work to do on infrastructure, which helps to explain why it is understandably keen to get a move-on.

But Papakosmas said you never know how quickly new developments might occur.

"We'd be ready next week if they put it on the table, but realistically that's not going to happen," he said. "But things can change dramatically and in a hurry in football. We're doing a huge amount of work in a number of different areas to prepare."


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4 min read
Published 2 March 2017 at 6:52pm
By Greg Prichard