Football South Coast to be 'guided by FFA' on expansion

Football South Coast chairman Eddy De Gabriele said the association would support whatever bid attempt gave the area its best chance of having representation in an expanded A-League.

WIN Stadium

Wollongong's WIN Stadium hosted Sydney FC during last year's FFA Cup Source: Getty Images

If that turned out to be a viable Wollongong Wolves as a stand-alone team, De Gabriele would have no problem with that, but if indications were that FSC joining forces with another association provided the best chance, he felt that would be the way to go.

De Gabriele said FSC would be guided by Football Federation Australia and that if indications were that the FFA wanted a newly-formed team representing a southern corridor region, as opposed to an existing club representing a smaller area - such as Wollongong - it would be silly to ignore that.


FSC, the Sutherland Shire Football Association and the St George Football Association have all had talks with the FFA about the possibility of at least two of those groups joining forces to help establish an A-League club.

But the newly-installed management at the Wolves, a former NSL club currently playing in the NSW National Premier League 1 competition, wants to make a stand-alone bid as an existing club and could go ahead with that regardless.

"We would support the Wolves if they made a bid and it was viable, sustainable, credible and had clear financing, and it was obvious it was the best way to go to achieve A-League representation for the Illawarra," De Gabriele told The World Game.

"But if we get an indication from the FFA that they definitely want to go with the model involving associations joining forces to cover a wider area and won't support a bid from a stand-alone team, then why would we put all our eggs in the stand-alone basket?

"We've got no problem with the Wolves putting together a bid, but we're trying to understand what the best option would be for FSC and support that.

"David Gallop and the FFA have always said they're looking for a strong connection with the grass-roots and the football associations in the southern area.

"If the FFA want to go down the Sutherland-Illawarra route, why would we not be interested in that if it meant representation?"

The FFA have previously made clear their interest in possibly covering the southern Sydney area with an A-League club, that cover could increase to include the south coast under the same umbrella.

De Gabriele said he felt two associations - SSFA and FSC - would cover a big-enough area, with home games shared.

The FFA are expected to soon announce the criteria for parties interested in bidding, with two clubs likely to be added in time for the 2018-2019 A-League season.

De Gabriele said FSC was like SSFA in that it wasn't interested in funding a bid, but would be prepared to lend its expertise and provide infrastructure, grass-roots support through access to junior players and promoting community engagement.

"We won't be owning clubs, we don't run clubs," he said.

"I would say there would be two options for such a club. One, the FFA funding, at least at the start like with Western Sydney, or, two, a number of investors and benefactors getting involved.

"I'd be surprised if there weren't people interested in investing who were already talking to the FFA."

De Gabriele said FSC's main aim was to take a responsible approach to its decision-making in terms of the A-League bidding process.

"I've been given the job of leading football in this region for the long-term," he said.

"FSC has been successful in the unification process down here after more than 20 years of tribal wars and it's important we maintain a unified focus, in terms of the A-League or anything else."

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4 min read
Published 5 January 2017 at 4:30pm
By Greg Prichard