A-League: Canberra's population not big enough as FFA boss David Gallop rules out team
30 November 2015 Lee Gaskin
Capital Football and the ACT government have described David Gallop's comments as "disappointing" after the FFA chief executive shut the door on Canberra's A-League dream.
Gallop stated the FFA's desire for expansion clubs to be based in cities of populations in the millions as opposed to in the hundreds of thousands.
Canberra's population was 379,200 in 2012, but is expected to grow to half a million by 2034.
A bumper crowd of nearly 20,000 turned out to see the Socceroos take on Kyrgyzstan in a World Cup qualifier at Canberra Stadium.
That raised hope Canberra could be the next cab off the rank once the FFA decides to expand the A-League.
Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid said Gallop's stance should not deter the Canberra public from continuing to push its case at every opportunity.
"They are very disappointing comments," Reid said.
"I don't think it means that the interests and aspirations of the football community should be put on hold because he said that.
"Maybe there's a challenge that's now thrown out to somebody that we're going to defy that and show you that we do have the capacity to have a team because we've got money, we've got the people, we've got the population, whatever it is that they need to justify giving Canberra an A-League licence."
An A-League for Canberra bid generated an enormous amount of support in 2008 when expansion of the A-League was first raised.
But the $5 million in capital raised from a combination of government support, sponsorships and public donations was a $1 million short of the $6 million target set out by the FFA.
Canberra would need a bid group that could deliver between $8m-$10m required to sustain a licence.
The FFA's preference for a new team is in Sydney, while there are also options in south-east Queensland and Perth.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Gallop's comments weren't surprising given the dealings the ACT Government has had with the FFA.
"This is disappointing for the Canberra football fans that have been campaigning for a local A-League team for some time," Barr said.
"We already have established football codes with a presence in the ACT and competition for corporate sponsorship is a challenge with both the Brumbies and the Raiders based here in Canberra and the Giants playing regular games at Manuka Oval.
"The recent Socceroos match and the success of the Asian Cup was a demonstration from the Canberra football community that they want more content, and the government will be working with FFA to ensure that the Socceroos match wasn't a one-off."
Gallop grew up in the ACT, but said Canberra didn't have the population base to sustain an A-League team.
"We firmly believe that any new clubs should be located in markets where there are millions, not just a few hundred thousand in population," Gallop said.
"My football friends in Canberra are always very polite, but insistent about pushing for a bigger place on the national stage.
"Talk of a A-League club is never far from the top of the list, but I think everyone understands FFA's current position.
"In the first instance, our strategy is all about the stability and sustainability of the current 10-club competition.
"That's nothing against the city, the coaches, the players or the passionate fans. It's a product of simple economics and the size of the market."
Canberra is trying to have a team in the National Youth League.
FFA will undertake a review of the competition at the end of the season to determine if they will bring in regional stand-alone teams like Canberra in either 2016-17 or 2017-18.
Several Canberra players are already in the NYL, including George Timotheou at Sydney FC and Josh Gaspari at the Western Sydney Wanderers.
24 November 2015