FFA’s new deputy chair Heather Reid is seeking advice on whether to exclude herself from voting on A-League expansion, amid a late push from TV rights holder Fox Sports to fast-track four teams into the competition next season.
The former head of Capital Football has strong ties to the ACT, and with Canberra one of six bidders vying for a license she is pondering the prospect of recusing herself, as fellow directors Remo Nogarotto and Joseph Corrozzi may also do at next Wednesday’s pivotal board meeting due to their links to the Macarthur South West Sydney bid.
“I am seeking some advice on my position regarding Canberra and the vote,” Reid told The World Game.
“The question is were I to recuse myself from that decision do I then also recuse myself from anything to do with the W-League, for example, considering I was general manager of Canberra United for nine years?
“It’s a tricky situation but I don’t have any ties to the Canberra bid, and I was an observer on the previous bid as a representative of Capital Football.
“I think common sense is the best way forward. Any interest in a bid that any of us may have will be declared and the other directors can then decide whether it’s of pecuniary importance (to the extent of being disengaged) from the decision-making process.”
Reid’s dilemma comes as Fox Sports pushes its preferred option for a 26-game home-and-away season, which would see four new teams on board, possibly as early as 2019-2020.
The network’s Plan B would be two new teams for next season, with each club in the competition playing each other twice and half the teams a third time.
Fox Sports was looking to have a representative in the boardroom for the deliberations, but have not been granted access.
Reid favours expansion at the earliest possible date, with a decision to come at the latest by early in the New Year.
In addition to MSWS and Canberra, Team 11, Western Melbourne, Southern Expansion and South Melbourne are knocking on the door, with FFA CEO David Gallop and A-League chief Greg O’Rourke to present their preferred options to the board on Wednesday.
“We’ve had a preliminary look at the information and I still have a very open mind and I need to get a lot more detail on the bids,” added Reid.
“There are six really good bids there and our aspiration needs to have one or two teams in for next season.
“We need to look at financial strength and the sustainability of each bid and a whole range of issues to do with venues and funding into the future.
“I’m not sure if four new teams would be on the cards.
“We also have the situation regarding the future of Wellington beyond next season.
“They have another year on their license and under some pressure to achieve KPI’s and we’ll have to see what happens with that.”
Whilst her sympathies may lie with the Canberra bid, Reid remains circumspect.
“I’ve said In relation to Canberra that the heart and mind is on a team in that region but whether or not the pockets are deep enough to support one is another matter.
“I know some of the people involved in the bid but I don’t know enough about the financial backing of it.
“I have clear memories of going to Canberra Stadium in the old Cosmos (NSL) days and they were only 1200 people there.
“I have a long memory of being in the men’s national league and with that comes the viability of the team.
“I was CEO of capital football when the Cosmos were finally put to bed and wound up.
“You’ll need around $15 million for license fee and on top of that another seven or so to keep the team going each year.
“Owners may need to be prepared to lose a few million, as people like Tony Sage at Perth Glory has done over the years.”
As expansion D-Day looms, Reid said the new board was also unfurling its first 100 day plan, and wanted to make announcements on the presumed scrapping of the despised National Club Identity Policy and increased funding for the Pararoos by March.
She is spearheading the drive for a full home-and-away season for the W-League.