Canberra’s push for an A-League licence has gained fresh momentum with a consortium of investors from Australia and abroad submitting a multi-million dollar bid to Football Federation Australia to bring an A-League team to the Nation's Capital.
The bid tabled by the Canberra Region Football Collective (CRFC) is believed to be worth more than $5 million with the group hopeful the official submission will get the FFA to give Canberra the go-ahead to join the A-League for the 2021-22 season.
The bid is backed by a European based investment group as well as a wealthy Australian family who are driven towards bringing a professional football team to Canberra, even if it means buying an relocating the Central Coast Mariners.
The bid also has the support of the ACT government who has signed an in-principle agreement with the club to provide as much as $1.5 million in annual funding through cash and payroll tax exemptions.
Capital Region FC Director Michael Caggiano said the bid team had been in negotiations with the FFA as well as Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth since before the COVID-19 pandemic and were bullish of their chances of acquiring an A-League licence.
“This is a significant financial offer that we have been building towards for quite some time,” Caggiano said.
“We have been speaking to James Johnson at the FFA and are confident.
“The A-League is in a state of transition and we feel that this is an opportunity not only to take football in the Canberra region to a new level, but to give the A-League the shot in the arm it needs to reinvigorate the competition.”
CRFC has stated that their preference is to become the A-League’s 13th team but was open to taking over Central Coast's licence and starting a new club in the capital to replace it.
Caggiano said that while buying the Central Coast Mariner's licence and moving it to Canberra was a possibility, it was not the only option.
“The Mariners are a foundation A-League club with a strong history, so we would like to see the club given every opportunity to survive,” he said.
“If that can be achieved, we will be seeking a newly issued A-League licence, however, if the best way forward for all parties involved is for us to purchase the Mariners licence, then we are open to that.”
A strong community focus, as well as a desire to promote local talent, will be a cornerstone of the potential club according to the bid team.
“The Canberra region has a strong history in developing world-class football talent, but we don’t have a pathway,” Caggiano said.
“Players like Tom Rogic and George Timotheou skip the A-League and sign directly with top overseas clubs, so how many more are being missed?
"We will be casting our net wide to ensure that every talented young footballer in the region has the opportunity to progress to the A-League.
"This is an untapped, unrepresented region that's been promised for a long time that it's next. We have everyone behind us, and I think most of the football community outside of Canberra is behind us as well."