But think about the movie plot, a pumped up American football agent cut down by the corporate sword only to re-invent himself with soul.

The difference is, there appears to be little soul or leadership in this A-League expansion move.

Two expansion clubs, only one of which will start next season. 

A Western Melbourne bid predicated on a promise of a privately funded stadium, a facility the bid says will be owned by football for football, but will it ever be built without government funding? Who’s to know.

And an FFA CEO not prepared to outline the financial details of the licence fees.

Let’s move from the suits to the track suits. I have no doubt in football terms, Western Melbourne will be well served.

I was in Melbourne with SBS when Lou Sticca, the football director at Western Melbourne, shaped Carlton SC as a new team in the old NSL in 1997-98.

His eye for playing talent under the guidance of coach Eddie Krncevic saw them make the grand final in their first season only to lose to South Melbourne.

His ability to consistently find quality players over the A-League era sees him as a major asset for the fledgling club. 

But an elite football department won’t determine success without the right strategic vision and execution.    

This round of expansion in my view, reeks of A League protectionism, with established clubs wanting to preserve their patch, wary of any new kid on the block.

There’s no doubt the South Melbourne bid would have impacted more heavily on the membership of both Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City, than the two other rival bids in Victoria – Team 11 & Western Melbourne.

The delay of South Western Sydney’s A League entry to the 2020 season, gives Western Sydney Wanderers clear air for their return to the refurbished Parramatta Stadium and provides Sydney FC greater distance and less direct threat than the Southern Expansion bid. 

It begs the question is this the tail wagging the dog? Is the FFA being held ransom to the self interests of powerful A-League clubs over the greater good of the game, when the game is crying out, baying for genuine leadership? 

But a sport is only as strong as its structure and sadly the constitutional matrix of football in this country makes it near impossible for genuine independence at FFA board level.

Reform and change was supposed to be driving the next phase of football in Australia but the first major initiative from the new board is a case of much of the same. 

Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer, whilst welcoming the first step, said any further expansion must be under an independent A-League model.

The question is how independent can any future structure be when it’s being shaped by the clubs with most power? 

Let’s see if there is more than just lip service to the soon to be established FFA working group on a second division in Australia.

New FFA chairman Chris Nikou will announce further details in the coming weeks but with A-League licences now having a reported 15-year tenure, the prospects of a promotion/relegation system anytime soon is wafer-thin at best. 

This letter to Football Federation Victoria from FIFA gives a good insight from the global body.

Whilst promotion/relegation is fundamentally part of FIFA’s regulations, they see Australia as a special case, given the nature of the A-League licence holders.  

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A second division in Australia has to be given due consideration.

Many NPL clubs in this country have the one ingredient that A-League teams so desperately crave – being club culture. 

It’s understood the FFA’s national club identity policy will be phased out in the foreseeable future.

It is a policy which led to the ridiculous scenario where so called ‘ethnic clubs’ were forced to cover national symbols during FFA cup matches.

This will be at least one move in the right direction and a step forward for clubs that have every right to be proud of their history and culture.

But there are plenty more wounds to heal for Australian Football to move out of intensive care.  

If there’s been one lesson to be learned from the A-League era, it’s that you cannot fast-track club culture.

This week’s expansion news was supposed to inspire greater confidence in the future, but in reality it has raised many more questions than answers to the professional game in Australia.



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