Why Canberra should be the next A-League team

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Canberra was once on the national stage but after two attempts at an A-League licence in the last decade, the capital is left without a team.

Back in February of 2018, Football Federation Australia announced their plans to expand the A-League by two teams and to their credit, they followed through by bringing in Western United this season and Macarthur FC next.

But once again Canberra was left out as adding its name to the A-League.

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Canberra is the capital city of Australia and that is one of the obvious arguments about establishing an A-league side. Can a competition truly call itself national if its capital city is left out but New Zealand’s capital city Wellington has a team in the Australian league?

It’s not as if the support is not there, it is. The Socceroos last three games in the capital have attracted thousands of fans to pack out GIO Stadium to cheer them on. The latest match, a world cup qualifier against Nepal saw more than 18,000 fans turn out in support.

In 2015, 19,500 fans showed up to watch a World Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan and in 2009 more than 20,000 watched an Asian Cup Qualifier against Kuwait. The support is definitely there, it’s just a matter of tapping into it.

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Adding to this is the data from the Sport Australia’s recent AusPlay survey where there were nearly two million Australians playing football from June 2018 to June 2019.

In the survey the ACT recorded 58,600 people played the sport. The state also has the highest population percentage of people playing football, with 7.2 per cent of adults and 22.6 per cent of children playing.

If the Canberra team had they been successful they could have adopted the 50+1 rule that is used in Germany. This guarantees the local community the majority share and major influence in how the club is run and Canberra fans would have had a say in the club name, colours, crest, ticketing and match-day experiences.

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There were reports of a partnership agreement with an unnamed European club, similar to that of the deal between Melbourne and Manchester City.

The Sydney Morning Herald also revealed that the side’s bid had the financial backing of a major sporting consortium that owns clubs in Europe and the United States.

While the financial backers were never revealed, the question remains, the international community backed the club so why won’t the FFA?

Feature Image Credit: Hyundai A-League

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Declan Smith
Current Sports Media student at University of Canberra. Average footballer
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