Who’s leading the charge for expansion?

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The FFA’s recent announcement to introduce two new teams into the 2019/20 edition of the Hyundai A-League has reignited what has become one of the most debated topics in Australian football.

While expansion is an exciting topic there will always be a cloud of doubt over the FFA’s choice of club and location with close to half of the newly included sides failing to stay afloat.

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On top of the original eight teams that formed the A-League back in 2005 there have been five sides introduced including Melbourne City, Western Sydney Wanderers, Gold Coast United, North Queensland Fury and Wellington Phoenix who acted as a direct replacement for the New Zealand Knights.

Of those sides Wellington have been in turmoil at times but remain in the competition, City and the Wanderers have transitioned seamlessly but the last example of two teams joining the league in 2009 failed miserably as neither the Gold Coast or North Queensland would go on to last more than three years.

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In looking at the expansion trends over the past 13-years of the competition it seems the recipe for success lies in choosing a city that already has an A-League side in place.

But who really holds the strongest claim to stepping up in the nation’s top tier in two years time?

Both Melbourne and Sydney would be safe choices for the FFA with the two cities boasting large populations and unexplored territory fronted by clubs such as South Melbourne or Geelong as well as the South Sydney or Wollongong area, all of which have been gaining some traction over the past few years.

While Australia’s two largest cities provide an attractive platform for financial success many feel that placing a third team in either city over another getting its first or second team would not bode well among fans around the rest of the country.

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Perhaps the best candidate to step up for a second team would be Perth. With a population of 1.6 million people the city fit well into the FFA’s supposed agenda and after a 16.9% increase on crowd attendance last year the Western Australian club’s numbers have dropped 8.

2% this year.

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The state’s second most successful side Perth SC would be a perfect choice to rival the stagnating Glory who have failed to replicate success from the NSL days and are in desperate need of a true derby as opposed to the distance derby against the Phoenix.

The next city deserving a second A-League side is Adelaide due to its sheer status as one of the key sporting cities in the country also providing a population of over 1 million people.

Adelaide United have enjoyed success in recent years but much like Perth the South Australian outfit saw a frightening 32.4% decrease in attendance last season so a newly formed derby with cross-town rivals Adelaide City would breath new life into football in the city of churches.

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While areas like Canberra and Hobart have had weight added to their bids over the past few years and would undoubtedly open up the competition to a broader area of the nation it is hard to see the FFA going for one of the two due to lower population and the popularity of other sports in each city.

Though there has been no indication on exactly who the FFA will select it is expected to be announced later in the year and the eager await for the arrival of two more competitors in the league will hopefully be worthwhile come 2019/20.

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Mitchell Keenan
Mitchell Keenan
Recent Sports Media graduate from the University of Canberra. Love all things football and can't wait to be part of the growth of the game in Australia. Waiting for the day the FFA come to their senses and hand us an A-League team... but could be waiting a while.

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