A-League: Canberra bid yet to be secured

The uncertainty about Canberra’s proposed entry into next season’s A-League men’s competition has clouded Canberra United’s future in the national women’s league.

The Australian Professional Leagues announced in March last year that teams from Auckland and Canberra were set to join the A-League men’s competition in the 2024-25 season.

While Auckland FC has been locked in for next season, the Canberra bid remains up in the air seven months out from the 2024-25 campaign.

As part of the bidding guidelines, the Canberra consortium was to have funded not only the new men’s team but also the existing Canberra United A-League women’s side that is currently backed by member federation Capital Football.

However, Capital Football’s ongoing funding of the women’s team has had a “significant impact on our bottom line”, according to the federation’s chief executive officer Samantha Farrow.

“Capital Football has invested over $2.5 million in Canberra United across the past two seasons, as well as doubling the club’s annual budget since 2020-2021,” Farrow said in a statement.

“The Canberra United season now comprises 22 games, as opposed to 12 games in 2020-2021, and 14 games in 2021-2022. This has considerably raised the cost of running a full-time professional side and has put significant pressure on our financial standing as evidenced by the reported deficit in 2022, with another deficit anticipated for 2023.

“Capital Football has over 15,000 participants, across all areas of our game. Continuing to run at a loss will affect each individual and the ongoing viability of our competitions making additional sources of revenue vital to our success.

“The fact is the men’s A-League bid is a key factor in a sustainable elite level presence in the region.”

“We are aware developments are at a critical stage and conscious that players, coaches, and supporters want clarity, as do we.”

The APL is continuing to negotiate with potential investors for the Canberra bid.

The ACT government has offered a 50 per cent advanced payment of its existing funding agreement with Canberra United to assist with the club’s “upfront” running costs.

“We all want a successful and elite club representing our region and giving our players something to aspire to, but that support needs to be replicated financially to sustain and grow our presence on a national stage,” Farrow said.

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