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Gold Coast & Townsville A-League Expansion Front-Runners


Brian in Boston

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It appears that two Queensland-based bids are the front-runners to land expansion franchises in Australia's top-flight domestic soccer competition, the Hyundai A-League.

Backers representing the Gold Coast Galaxy - including executive chairman Fred Taplin - met with Football Federation Australia's Ben Buckley on Wednesday and presented their plan for establishing the franchise. The FFA was impressed with the group's financial plan, which will utilize profits from a property development company to finance initial operations of the football club. The Galaxy have all but secured a lease to utilize the new, state-of-the-art, 27,480-seat Skilled Park in Robina as their home pitch. They've also finalized a lease to use the Runaway Bay Sports Super Centre complex as their training venue. They're in the process of putting the finishing touches on plans to build a major training academy, forge a sister-club deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy and select their colors (rumored to be Gold and Blue). On the subject of the name, Mr. Taplin said that aside from the tie-in to the MLS franchise, it suited the marketplace because, "Gold Coast is a destination which offers a galaxy of fun." He also confirmed that it was the club's strategy to market not only to fans in Queensland, but deep into northern New South Wales, as well.

A Townsville-based bid group, tentatively named Northern Thunder FC, is scheduled to meet with the FFA next week. Bid spokesman James Gage revealed that while the North Queensland group has been preparing its soccer and off-field operations since launching a failed bid to join the A-League in time for this season, it has made less concrete progress on its final financial plan. That said, real estate developer Allen St. James has been identified as the bid's initial investor. Additionally, the group has unveiled team colors of Red and White, as well as a logo. The 25,000-seat Dairy Farmers Stadium has been secured as the team's home pitch, with the North Queensland Academy of Sport set to serve as the club's training facility.

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Both groups have said that they'd ideally like to take the pitch in time for the 2009 Hyundai A-League season, but would enter the competition in 2008 if league executives asked them to do so.

It would appear that bids from groups representing Wollongong, Geelong, Canberra, western Sydney and a second Melbourne franchise have been moved to the back-burner.

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On the subject of the name, Mr. Taplin said that aside from the tie-in to the MLS franchise, it suited the marketplace because, "Gold Coast is a destination which offers a galaxy of fun."

LOL, lame. I hate when teams do this. It just screams minor league.

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A Gold Coast entry might finally give me a team to follow but honestly, the A-League isn't ready for expansion. The 8 team format has some legs left in it, and diluting the quality of the league would be a bad move at the moment. There are already rumblings that the quality of play has deteriorated this season from the league's first 2 years.

Northern New South Wales is a terrific soccer area, with a massive participation rate. Whether that would translate into support/fans for a Gold Coast A-League team is a matter of debate. While there is obvious geographic closeness there isn't a connection that makes you think of Gold Coast teams as being "local".

But, if they come out wearing gold shirts with a blue sash you can sign me up for season tickets ^_^

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Well, the leagues isn't all that strong at the moment. There is only one place with a decent crowd - Melbourne. Perth are struggling off-field and I think the league should fix up the current problems before creating more. I'm not saying the league can't expand, it can, just not yet. And Gold Coast Galaxy is a terrible name, they could have come up with something more unique. I think for a garunteed crowd, you'd put a second club in Melbourne and have it play out of the new stadium, but I'm not sure the city is ready for a second club. The one city, one club policy seems to work. Not in Sydney though, no one shows up there.

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