Football: Time for A-League to expand beyond 10 teams

Socceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou thinks it's time the A-League expanded to 10 teams. Photo / Getty
Socceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou thinks it's time the A-League expanded to 10 teams. Photo / Getty

Australian head coach Ange Postecoglou has declared that it was time for the A-League to become bold and expand beyond 10 teams.

The calls come after a stellar start to the A-League season, with a combined 105,068 attending the Sydney and Melbourne derbies with an average Fox Sports TV audience of 137,000.

FFA chief executive David Gallop has also put expansion back on the agenda recently, after the governing body spent years preaching consolidation.

Postecoglou, who's been a player or coach since 1984, was strong on the expansion issue in his new book Changing the Game, and he's renewed calls, adamant players, coaches and fans are hungry for more.

"Having nine Australian teams is not enough and I'd hate to think a boy who wants to be a professional footballer, maybe a Socceroo, doesn't realise that dream because of a lack of opportunity," Postecoglou said.

"Opportunities for people who love the game, because those figures are undoubted, more people love the game, play the game than ever before, boys and girls.

"Having more teams, that was probably the biggest strength of the National Soccer League, there was 14, 16 teams and the majority of the golden generation came from there because they had an opportunity to realise those dreams.

"When you don't provide opportunities, they don't only stop playing but walk away from the sport in many respects - they don't follow a team.

"I understand there's economics behind it but from where I sit, there's a real need for it, sooner rather than later.

"As I said in the book, I'm pretty bullish about it, it needs to happen. I'm not an administrator, but it's worked for us in the past."

In the book, Postecoglou questioned why the success of the Western Sydney Wanderers "didn't fire up the game to be bolder" and to break the 'consolidation and sustainability' mindset.

Postecoglou said a second division should be a longer-term play, but cited the FFA Cup as an example of what opportunities have done for non-A-League clubs.

"For me the first stage is getting more teams in the top division, provide more opportunities for players and supporters and from there, growth will happen. What form or shape, time will tell," he said.

"The FFA Cup has shown that little opportunity to just be in the spotlight is a massive incentive and it's been embraced by the whole football community.

"I went to Bentleigh Greens (against Melbourne Victory) and they spent $50,000 on new lights, which are there to stay, they've built something tangible, I don't think they would've done that before.

"You've improved a club by giving them opportunity and that can happen everywhere across the country if there's incentive.

"It doesn't necessarily mean you'll get to the top league in the next few years, but it gives them incentive to keep building."

- news.com.au

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