The latest development in the A-Leagues Auckland expansion license has seen a preferred bidder identified for the expansion licence in the Auckland market for both an A-League Men and Women’s team.
It was revealed by the Herald late last month that Bill Foley, general partner global multi club football operator Black Knight Football Club, which owns English Premier League (EPL) club AFC Bournemouth, had entered the race to take the expansion license for the 2024-25 season.
A high-powered local consortium had initially emerged as the frontrunners, following six months of negotiations for the $20 - $27 million license fee.
A-League management have subsequently announced that Foley and Black Knight have been identified as the ‘preferred bidder’ - approval for the license is subject to completion of the processes by the Australian Professional Leagues and regulatory processes by Football Australia.
Once approved by Football Australia, it will work with its regional governing body, the Asian Football Confederation, and partners Oceania Football Confederation, New Zealand Football for endorsement.
Foley is an American-based owner of a number of sporting organisations and has business connections to New Zealand. As well as AFC Bournemouth, Black Knight have significant minority ownership of FC Lorient in France’s Ligue 1. Fowley is also owns the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team in 2017 that were this year’s Stanley Cup champions.
As for business interests, Fowley’s Foley Wines Ltd. is listed on the New Zealand stock exchange and consists of wineries in Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago - as well as restaurant venues in Auckland, Queenstown and Wellington including SOUL bar in Auckland’s Viaduct.
Bill Foley said he and his family have genuine love for New Zealand and want to grow the sport of football here by building a winning organisation.
“We will look to strengthen this connection even further by acquiring an A-Leagues expansion licence in Auckland, which will allow us to establish both a men’s and women’s club in the city. Black Knight Football Club operates with a commitment to excellence on and off the pitch. Our goal will be to build a winning organisation while simultaneously serving the community and growing the sport – and passion for the sport – at all levels. We are extremely excited to reach this stage in the process and look forward to the next steps.”
Commissioner of the A-Leagues, Nick Garcia, said “The awarding of Preferred Bidder Status is an important step towards new professional women’s and men’s teams in Auckland.
“Bill Foley and Black Knight Football Club are committed sports investors and bring direct elite football experience via their investment in AFC Bournemouth in the English Premier League and other European clubs. Importantly, Bill is passionate about Auckland and has a long-term relationship with New Zealand through his business interests.
“Auckland has been the largest city in Australia and New Zealand without a professional football team, despite football being the most popular team participation sport nationally in New Zealand. We look forward to building on the success of the Fifa Women’s World Cup, providing football fans in Auckland with their new home team.”
Will Toogood is an Online Sports Editor for the NZ Herald. He has previously worked for Newstalk ZB’s digital team and at Waiheke’s Gulf News, covering sport and events.