17th licence clears last major hurdle, expansion on track as others contract
Sunday, March 22 2009 @ 02:30 am ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
As reported in Gold Coast look the goods, only one major hurdle appeared to remain in the path of the Gold Coast Football Club being awarded the 17th AFL licence. That obstacle was that although the state Labor Government of Queensland had committed $60 million towards a rebuild of the Carrara stadium, the Liberal-National Party opposition would not commit.
Happily for the GC17 team, despite the LNP grabbing a small lead in opinion polls coming into the election, yesterday's vote appears to have delivered Labor a comfortable victory, albeit with a reduced margin. This should see the AFL quickly formally award the licence and the Gold Coast FC commence the next wave of off-field recruitment. The club begins in the primarily Victorian Under 18 competition this year, progressing to the VFL in 2010 and now look certain to debut in the AFL in 2011.
The AFL has also re-stated its intention to aim for a 2012 AFL debut for a western Sydney team. See Expansion plans on course.
In other news on the health of the AFL clubs, Port Adelaide recently put their hand out for assistance like that enjoyed by several Melbourne-based clubs. The AFL made it clear such help would not be forthcoming, saying they should negotiate a better stadium deal. However unlike the MCG and Docklands Stadium, Adelaide's AAMI Stadium is owned and operated by football. So unfortunately for football in South Australia, already struggling with crowds down at the Power, an aging main stadium, soccer on the rise and several SANFL clubs living on the edge, it appears the choice is between Port Adelaide and the local state league clubs. If the Power can't turn around their finances and the AFL don't come to the table, expect the SANFL clubs to be the ones that suffer. When the Crows formed, the league contracted from 10 to 9 clubs - perhaps we'll see that shrink again. So the great irony may be that SANFL fans will be barracking for arch enemy Port Adelaide in the hope they return to profit thus saving the need to strip cash from the local sides.