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Mar 1, 2012

FFA rains on Canberra's A-League hopes

Football Federation Australia can add another disgruntled businessman to their list of critics after seemingly extinguishing Canberra's long-held hopes of entering the A-League.

Bid leader and TransACT boss Ivan Slavich's three-year battle to get a team up in the nation's capital was revived briefly when the FFA this week revoked Gold Coast United's licence and announced it was keen to maintain a 10-side competition.

But the FFA has since confirmed its preference to start a franchise in western Sydney rather than consider Canberra's long-standing $4 million bid.

"I don't think it's fair," Slavich told AAP on Friday.

"It is frustrating because we do have money behind it and a lot of capability and it seems western Sydney doesn't have any capability, yet the FFA is prepared to completely fund it.

"We would have had a great team.

"The FFA's thumbing their nose to the actual football supporters in Canberra - that's the disappointing thing."

To get the bid up and running originally, Slavich secured financial backing from the ACT government, business and private investors, which included $200 a pop commitments from thousands of foundation members.

But pending the veto from the FFA - Slavich has yet to be told directly - he will begin refunding the pledges.

With the FFA not planning to expand the A-League for another five years, it means Canberra fans are in for a long wait.

Slavich said Canberra deserved a spot and insisted he could have had a team ready to go for the next A-League season, despite the teams that have fallen by the wayside, courtesy of short preparation time, like Gold Coast and Townsville.

"It would have definitely been a lot of work and time, but I think we could have done it.

"We were prepared to do it."

A disappointed Slavich said he'd been burned by the process and would only commit to another bid if the FFA openly courted one.

"We'd have to have a much stronger commitment from the FFA that they would include us, rather than wasting our time.

"If it's just a roll of the dice and see what happens - which is the way it's operated to date - I doubt I'd do it."

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