Ivan Slavich, the man behind Canberra’s stalled $4 million bid for an A-League licence, says he is willing to reactivate his interest in the wake of the Hunter Sports Group pulling the rug from under Newcastle Jets.
Though unimpressed by the manner in which the ruling body has treated the consortium which has spent three years piecing together a proposal, Slavich said that Canberra could conceivably still make up a 10th team in 2012-2013 if FFA is unable to force mining magnate Nathan Tinkler to honour a participation agreement not scheduled to expire until 2020 or alternatively find a new backer for the club.
TransACT boss Slavich, whose consortium had sought to fill the void left by Gold Coast United before FFA opted to fund a western Sydney franchise, said: “After the decision was made by FFA to award a licence to western Sydney I was about to hand back the thousands of financial pledges for foundation memberships we have received from the ACT public and walk away.
“This has come out of the blue a bit and in the light of that I would still say that the door is still open to discuss possible participation next season for a team from the capital, though we feel we have not been treated well at by FFA.
“We feel we have excellent credentials and feel let down that FFA has opted for western Sydney which looks very much to me like it’s going to be partially funded by government money anyway with its $8 million grant to develop the game in that region. They have snubbed us repeatedly.”
Slavich said he would need a raft of assurances from FFA over the long-term viability of the A-League for his interest to be fully ignited again, adding: “It looks a little like the A-League is becoming a revolving door and that’s a major concern. You’ve had North Queensland Fury, Gold Coast United come and go and now the situation with the Jets.
“It is a worry to everybody. But we are still willing to talk with FFA, which I would imagine right now is in damage control.
“I feel sad for the game in general that this has happened. It’s the last thing it needs.
”The question is which other clubs out there might go next? I just don’t know how solid the foundations are.
”You have to fear for the league. Clubs coming and going is not a good look. You don’t see that happening in rugby league, in rugby union or the AFL.
“I feel particularly sad for the people of Newcastle and I am sure FFA will do everything in its power to find another backer. But cashed-up financers don’t just drop off trees.
“Our model has always been one from the ground up rather than the other way round.
”It’s good to have these wealthy backers dipping their hands in their pockets but when their mood changes it leaves clubs high and dry.”
To get the bid up and running originally, Slavich secured financial backing from the ACT government, business and private investors, which included $200 a pop commitments from thousands of foundation members.
Long-serving Brisbane Roar midfielder Massimo Murdocca has been granted a release to return to his family in the Victorian capital and link up with Melbourne Heart.