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Australian A-League

Sydney needs a third club - Southern Expansion bid chairman Chris Gardiner

An aspiring A-League franchise have cited Sydney FC's home semifinal attendance as a reason why a third Sydney club should be added to the national competition.

Football Federation Australia plans to add two clubs to the existing 10-team competition from the 2019-20 season, and invited expressions of interest in late March.

The Southern Expansion bids want to spread home matches across three venues, Southern Cross Group Stadium and Jubilee Oval -- both in southern Sydney -- and Wollongong's WIN Stadium.

Southern Expansion CEO Chris Gardiner slammed suggestions that Sydney FC''s support base in the southern region would be hit by his club as "ridiculous."

Gardiner said Sydney needed at least three, and in the medium term, four A-League clubs and said the crowd of 17,775 for Sydney FC semifinal against Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium served "to crystallise their failure to engage Australia's largest football market."

"The area that Sydney claim to represent has two and a half million people, 100,000 participants and is covered by no fewer than 5 NRL teams -- Roosters, Rabbitohs, Manly, Dragons, Sharks -- with easily over 75,000 members," Gardiner said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

A crowd of 17,775 watched Sydney FC's semifinal against Melbourne Victory.
A crowd of 17,775 watched Sydney FC's semifinal against Melbourne Victory.

"Yet after 12 years, we get 17,000 to a final. Incredible. Comments about cannabilisation of Sydney FC in our Southern region are ridiculous, if not embarrassing.

"They recently stated that a third of their approximately 15,000 members came from the southern region -- at best, 5,000 members.

"But there are over 40,000 registered football players in the southern region.

"Any suggestion that football should not engage the remaining 35,000 participants, not to mention tens of thousands of other football lovers, is staggering."

Sydney FC were contacted for a response but declined to comment.


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