Australia’s A-League considering Asian expansion
Agence France-Presse in Sydney
Australia’s domestic A-League could eventually expand into Asia with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia showing interest, senior officials said on Tuesday.
The league currently has just 10 teams and while a move to expand is not imminent, it could reportedly stage games in Asia as soon as the next year-15 season.
“There’s no reason why you can’t look seriously at games and even certainly clubs being based in different parts of Asia,” the head of the A-League, Damien de Bohun, said at the launch of the new season.
“Perth Glory played a game in Malaysia... a pre-season match, they had 27,000 people there.
“They built a brand new stadium with a roof there that holds 50,000 that they want to play a club out of and they’re meeting with us on that.”
With countries like Singapore and Malaysia having their own domestic leagues, it was not clear how any prospective team would also be able to play the A-League.
De Bohun said with Australia to host the Asian Cup in January 2015, some A-League games would need to be played away from regular venues, making it an ideal time to trial matches around the region.
“We have had active discussions with places like Singapore, like Indonesia,” he said, Australian Associated Press reported.
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said the popularity of soccer was rapidly growing in Australia, where traditionally cricket and rugby are the premier sports, with crowds and television ratings soaring.
“As the world gets smaller, football gets bigger. We will become the largest and most popular sport in the country - one day,” he said while heaping praise on marquee stars Alessandro Del Piero [Sydney FC], Emile Heskey [Newcastle] and Shinji Ono [Western Sydney].
“They signed up again for a second season and that was a vote of confidence in the A-League that is immeasurable in terms of underlying where football is at in this country - the increase in the technical standards, the intensity of our competition,” he said.
The new season kicks off on Friday when Sydney FC face Newcastle.
While all matches will be shown live on pay-tv, there will also be coverage this year on free-to-air television for the first time and ABC will broadcast all games live on the radio.