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Aug 13, 2008

Captains back A-League expansion

Adelaide United skipper Travis Dodd believes the impending expansion of the A-League will open the way for more locals to play for the Socceroos.

Club captains and players have thrown their full support behind Football Federation Australia's plan to expand the competition from eight teams to a likely 10 from next year, with the prospect of a longer regular season the biggest attraction.

With just 21 rounds and a four-week finals series, the A-League is one of the shortest top-tier football leagues in the world.

A 10-team competition could see the regular season increased to 27 rounds from next season, with Dodd believing the extra games could only increase the chances of A-League players pushing for national selection.

"The last couple of years it's been a good league but one of the downfalls has been the limited number of games in the season," Dodd said.

"So it will be good to have a longer season and I guess that helps Australian-based players in regards to making the national team as well.

"If there are more games, there are more chances of making the national team as well."

The FFA will decide later this month whether to include Gold Coast United and North Queensland FC for the 2009-10 season, with both franchises expected to get the green light.

From there, the FFA will look to increase the competition to 12 teams, with the ultimate goal of 14 clubs.

"I think it needs it," Sydney FC captain Tony Popovic said of expansion.

"Obviously the league had to land on its feet first, we all knew when it started that eight wasn't enough, but the league had to establish itself and I think it's well and truly grounded now.

"It's ready for another couple of teams and hopefully they get it right.

"Hopefully they're financially viable and all very competitive on the field, and if that's the case, it's great news for the league to get another two teams and make the season a bit longer and more aligned with the European amount of games."

Central Coast skipper Alex Wilkinson believed there was enough quality players - both in Australia and overseas - for 10 or more teams.

Craig Moore, though, warned against weakening the competition by expanding too quickly, saying he believed the league was ready for just one new addition for season five next year.

"I do support expansion, but it's just one of those things that if they can only have one team and they make sure it's a strong one team, then that's great," the Queensland Roar skipper said.

"Because at the end of the day you want to have a product that's a good product.

"I think we are definitely in a position to bring one in, whether that's the Gold Coast or wherever it may be. I think over time, we'll see the league expand."

Season four of the A-League starts Friday with a grand final re-match between champions Newcastle Jets and Central Coast at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

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