Canberra’s chances of getting a team in the A-League are better than ever.
Unfortunately, when we have tried in the past, political input has stood in the way. The goal posts seem to be constantly changing as Canberra’s bid, presented with optimism, local support and enthusiasm, has fallen by the wayside.
In 2005, Frank Lowy said Canberra had been identified as a site for future expansion.
Since then, it has been difficult to keep track of the various bids submitted to secure a place in the A-League’s national men’s competition.
Following my count, five bids have been submitted by three different groups in support of the establishment of a Canberra-based team.
The A-League for Canberra submitted three bids before it was settled in 2012.
The hardest setback of the three failed bids came in 2009 when the A-League license was awarded to Sydney Rovers.
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Four years after the A-League for the Canberra group was wound up, we saw the emergence of the Canberra and Capital Region A-League consortium, which submitted a failed bid in 2018.
This was also difficult to accept as this bid had strong community and corporate support but fell at the last hurdle when it was revealed that the TV deal with Fox Sports provided that further payments to the Football Association of Australia would only come with the extension of Teams in Sydney and Melbourne.
Out of this team emerged the Capital Region Football Collective, which submitted a bid in 2020. Like Canberra and the Capital Region A-League group, the Football Collective is a community-supported model.
A lot has happened since that bid. There’s a new TV deal where ViacomCBS has signed a $ 200 million deal to broadcast the A-League and W-League on Network TEN and the streaming service Paramount Plus.
As part of the five-year deal with the Australian professional leagues, ViacomCBS has acquired a small stake in the leagues, meaning the broadcaster has a vested interest in making it work.
What gives Canberra hope is that there is now financial security in home football in Australia.
Another reason for optimism is speculation that the competition will expand by four teams, bringing the league to 16 clubs.
This week, I spoke with Canberra bidder Michael Caggiano, whose energy and passion have kept the campaign alive. He is very optimistic that Canberra would finally get a team in the A-League.
But given past events, in the minds of many, this optimism comes with a sense of caution.