Former NSW Premier Morris Iemma is urging Football Federation Australia to press on with A-League expansion immediately and put aside any political differences in the best interests of the game.
An announcement on the two successful candidates to join the competition is set to be made on October 31 however it's understood the organisation is considering scrapping that time frame after losing the battle to hold back governance reforms.
Morris Iemma (right) with Southern Expansion bid team chief Chris Gardiner.Credit:Peter Braig
At an October 15 meeting outgoing FFA chairman Steven Lowy and the board will deliberate whether or not to continue with the expansion process for the 2019/20 season or pass on the responsibility to the incoming chairman and directors, who will be appointed in November.
In the event of the current board putting the final decision on hold, it could lead to a lengthy delay before an announcement of new franchises, which would prevent expansion from taking place until the 2020/21 season.
Iemma, the chairman of the Southern Expansion bid from Sydney's south, says the game's internal issues should not stymie the expansion process, which began in March .
"If there's a change [of FFA board] on November 7th, there shouldn't be a delay," Iemma said. "If there is, a decision should be made in December. This is not the kind of decision you put off for four months, five months, six months or 12 months.
"The A-League needs critical mass and growth, it needs to expand. If you have the best interest of the game at heart, then this is the decision you are making."
The Southern Expansion bid is financially backed by Hong Kong based property company JiaYuan and while a lengthy delay is unwanted, the investors will not be deterred. The group has already invested heavily in its bid to be granted an A-League licence and will continue to push for entrance to the competition even if expansion is put on the ice for as long as a year.
"For us, we're hanging in for the long haul," Iemma said.
However, Iemma believes there should be no need to delay announcing the two new licences even if there is a change of leadership within the FFA. Given all the bids have already been submitted, he believes any potential new board could make a decision on expansion at its first meeting.
"Our position is that expansion is crucial for the game. There's no need for a decision to be delayed for any length of time," Iemma said. "There's no need for testing the market, global searches or anything. Just build on the existing work that's already been done. There is a wealth of information."
The South West Sydney FC bid, based out of Campbelltown Stadium, would also be disappointed with any delay having invested heavily in hope of gaining a licence but will remain committed to the process in the event they have to wait an extra season before entrance. Bid leader Gino Marra says his franchise would be able ready to enter the A-League immediately and have been preparing for the 2019/20 season.
"If the process is delayed by a year then we will still continue bidding for a licence," Marra said. "Our project is for the long-term so if we have to wait, then we will wait. It will be disappointing if that happens but we will remain committed. So far, we have not had it confirmed from the FFA that the announcement will be put back.
"We have all invested heavily in the bidding process, not just the current bid but both of the original individual bids. We remain committed to bringing a team to our region."
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