Sunshine Coast expansion bid seek FFA meeting

FFA Chairman Steven Lowy and FFA CEO David Gallop Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

The key figures behind a Sunshine Coast bid for inclusion in an expanded A-League will approach Football Federation Australia to set up a meeting in February.

Sunshine Coast lawyer and football club owner Noel Woodall and Brisbane-based businessman Nirav Tripathi met on Monday and have agreed to continue discussions on a joint bid.

But they need to clarify what the FFA are looking for ahead of the criteria for expansion bids being finalised.

"Mr Woodall and I will be looking to meet with FFA in February, accompanied by some of our due diligence partners," Tripathi told The World Game.

Woodall added: "We would like to meet with FFA as a professional courtesy to outline our fundamental vision.

"We want to go there and express our interest, display some bona fides and go about it the right way.

"So it's a professional courtesy before these matters are really heavily publicised that FFA fully understand where we're coming from and we get a feel for how FFA feels."

The World Game reported last week that Woodall said he had asked Tripathi some "probing" questions about financing.

In the wake of their meeting on Monday, Woodall said Tripathi had answered those questions positively.

"He has given me assurances and indicated certain information which is commercial in confidence," Woodall said.

Tripathi added: "We have been proceeding through a typical due diligence process and the results have been very encouraging."

Tripathi said the Sunshine Coast area presented an enormous opportunity for the A-League.

"In pure numbers, our external due diligence process shows the catchment area of the Sunshine Coast is 564,139 people, from Caboolture in the south to Gympie in the north," he said.

"That grows to 726,240 people in 2021 and 827,753 people in 2031. 

"This is real emerging territory for top-tier sport in this country. An A-League team would be the only national top-tier men's sporting franchise the region has.

"There is no NRL side on the Sunshine Coast, there is no AFL side, no BBL and there has never been an A-League side there. 

"So I think through our rigorous due diligence process we are growing more confident that the potential is there, the catchment area is there, the infrastructure is there."

Woodall said he preferred multiple backers rather than the single owner model and Tripathi said he had organised a consortium of overseas businessmen willing to fund a club.

"Our part of the deal will be to deliver the infrastructure base, the corporate base and the client base," Woodall said.

"Their contribution, fundamentally, will be to deliver the money and the marketing expertise into Asia, because we see it as a bigger picture than just Australia."

Asked why he wanted to get involved in an A-League club on the Sunshine Coast, Tripathi said he spent a lot of time there with his family, loved the area and already had business interests there.

He said he was prepared to take a financial risk on such a venture.

"In business, rarely does reward come without risk," he said.

"However, football is also a passion.

"I am passionate about the transformative nature of football and that is why I have established football academies with Mr George Weah. This is also why I am pleased to agree to continue this process with Mr Woodall as he is very passionate about football on the Sunshine Coast."

FFA would be expected to take a meeting with Woodall and Tripathi, as it has said previously that ahead of the criteria being finalised it is prepared to "listen to interested parties who want to ask questions".