Zero appetite to fund Canberra bid for A-League team

The boss of the previous Canberra bid to get a team in the A-League said there was no-one prepared to mount another attempt because of the belief it would be a waste of time trying to convince Football Federation Australia to give it the green light.


Canberra has hosted a number of A-League matches. Source: Getty Images

"We've done this before and the FFA said no, so why would we or anyone else in Canberra bother?" said Ivan Slavich, who headed the A-League4Canberra bid that tried unsuccessfully to win a licence during the period from 2008-2010.

"We gave it a big shot previously, we raised $5 million, we had 2000 people pay 200 bucks each, we had agreements in place for Canberra Stadium and the AIS to train at their facilities, we had the support of local clubs, and the FFA said no."

Slavich said he couldn't see the situation changing unless Football Federation Australia encouraged Canberra to submit a bid on the understanding it would be strongly considered.

But he wasn't expecting that to happen.

Talk of multiple expansion bids from elsewhere in Australia has gained momentum, with the likelihood two new teams will be introduced for the 2018-2019 season.

"Don't get me wrong, Canberra would love to have their own team, but it's really because of the experience last time," Slavich said.

"All momentum went into that and we feel we ticked every box and the feeling in the town is that there's no point in trying again.

"We had $5 million cash to start the team and I had to go through the process of handing the money back to everyone. I had investors. We did a load of work and the FFA said no, so why would  people want to do it again?

"We reckon if we did it all over again they still wouldn't give us a team, so why waste our time?

"The reality with expansion is these two new teams will be in the southern part of Sydney, in the Sutherland Shire-St George area, and another team from Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide.

"It won't be in Canberra."

Slavich is a highly respected and influential figure in ACT football who works with a number of clubs as a business consultant. Nothing of major significance happens in football in the ACT without him knowing about it.

He said the future A-League flavour for Canberra people would come from existing club Central Coast Mariners, with which Capital Football has a contractual arrangement.

The Mariners have already played one of two home games scheduled for Canberra this season. Slavich described it as similar to AFL club GWS Giants playing some home games in Canberra.

"We've got a good relationship with (Mariners CEO) Shaun Mielekamp and (coach) Paul Okon," he said.

"There is a pathway for our players here through to the Mariners. They're running coaching clinics down here and we've pretty much said we're not going to have our own side, so we're going to put our lot with the Mariners.

"The fundamental concern for Canberra is that because it's a government town there are not a lot of corporates based here, so it's a bit difficult getting corporate support for a new team.

"I met with Phil Brown, the CEO of Capital Football, last week. Canberra isn't bidding for a separate team. If there is another bid from somewhere down here, they haven't spoken to me or Capital Football, which is the governing body here in Canberra, and I know that from speaking to Phil.

"There is no other bid."

Another influential Canberra football figure whom The World Game spoke to privately also said there was no movement on the expansion bid front.

"I'm not aware of anything happening," the figure said. "And unless someone comes from the community with a real concerted effort to put in a bid, it's not going to happen."

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4 min read
Published 24 December 2016 at 12:57pm
By Greg Prichard