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Mar 15, 2007

FFA stalls over New Zealand A-League bid

A decision on the future of a New Zealand team in the A-League may not come until next week after another day of silence from Football Federation Australia (FFA).

The FFA has again failed to announce the future of the Wellington-based franchise, which submitted the requested financial documents to the A-League's governing body just before Wednesday's deadline.

The news will come as an immense frustration to organisers of the Kiwi bid, who are proposing to sub-let the license from New Zealand Soccer, but also to prospective teams from Townsville and Wollongong.

Consortiums from both Wellington and Townsville released statements on Wednesday suggesting they expected the FFA to make a decision by Thursday.

But they have to wait and the FFA won't say for how long.

"We're still reviewing the documentation and we'll make an announcement when the time is right," said league communications manager Adam Mark.

"There's no timeframe on these decisions, it's just got to be the right decision at the right time."

Mark said while he understood clubs would "want a quick solution", the FFA wouldn't be rushed into making a decision.

"These things take time and there's no quick answer," he said.

"I can't give a time-frame as there's no announcement time or date set."

The only franchise suited by the delay appears that headed up by Gold Coast Soccer, who originally flagged their interest at bringing soccer to the south-east Queensland region in 2009.

But with the prospect of a vacancy coming sooner than expected, Gold Coast officials are desperate to add an A-League team to the local sporting vista.

"The Gold Coast has always been mentioned as a possible area for expansion and we've been slowly working on it knowing 2008-09 is when they're probably going to ask for expressions of interest," Gold Coast Soccer chairman Peter Gray told AAP.

"But with the people up here and the people behind the bid, we're quite capable to bring it forward quickly if we have to."

"We've always been around saying we'd like to look at joining when we're allowed too," he said.

Despite the return of top-level rugby league to the Gold Coast and a massive push from the AFL to win over south east Queensland, Gray believes the region is a true soccer heartland.

"(New NRL club) the Titans have done a really good job, but there's room for us as well and we'll learn a lot from what they've done," Gray said.

"Aussie Rules is a bit different, they've got a lot of work to do.

"On the weekend for the (NAB Cup) semi-final, they drew a crowd of 7,200 in perfect weather while we drew more people to a Sydney FC-Queensland trial match last year in pouring rain and everybody paid."

Gray, who spent 12 years as president of Soccer NSW, said the Gold Coast proposal has strong backing from the business community and will connect closely with prospering junior leagues.

"We've increased our numbers of kids involved by about 1,200 in the past year, so we've got about 8,500 players in total, which is probably double what Townsville have," he said.