Sunday, January 28, 2007

Three bidders for A-League New Zealand franchise

Football Federation Australia has received submissions from three groups interested in acquiring the franchise license of the New Zealand Knights in the A-League; one from Auckland, one from the capital city, Wellington and one from the regional city Palmerston North. According to Michael Brown in the NZ Herald, the FFA were impressed by the package offered by Wellington City Council-backed submission. "Ian Wells and John Dow are key members of the Wellington bid, along with local football identity and millionaire Dave Wilson. Wells is a New Zealand Soccer board member and former chairman of both New Zealand Tennis and Cricket Wellington, while Dow is a prominent Wellington events manager. The Palmerston North bid, backed by a group of Uruguayan businessmen who have property in New Zealand and links with NZFC outfit Manawatu, proposes the new club to play in various venues around the country,

Former America's Cup executive director Alan Sefton is said to be leading the Auckland consortium which is reportedly the preferred location of Football New Zealand and FFA. NZS chief executive Graham Seatter said the Auckland and Palmerston North bids were the strongest financially but that Auckland was playing catch-up after entering the race late. "Auckland have the capacity to raise the money quite easily," he said, "but there are challenges in Wellington."

Also writing in the NZ Herald, Terry Maddaford reported that any new NZ club in the A-League will use a different name and logo. But, ironically, being ineligible for the Asian Champions League [and Oceania O-League] the new club will have a definite advantage over other A-League clubs.

"While Australian clubs are bound by Asian [Football] Confederation rules which decree no more than four visa players in the 23-man squad, ie 19 Australians and four recruited worldwide, the New Zealand team, the only A-League club not eligible to play in the Asian [Champions League], has fewer restrictions. They can recruit up to 19 players from New Zealand and Australia and another four worldwide. In both cases, three players must be under 20 years of age. With this in mind, and with several current internationals apparently keen to return home, it could be the new-look squad could have a mix of around 13 New Zealanders, six Australians and four others," he wrote.

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