A-League expansion race down to 15 as Brisbane Strikers withdraw
Former National Soccer League winners, the Brisbane Strikers, have pulled out of the A-League expansion process.
The Strikers have withdrawn from the race which will see two teams join the competition next year, citing issues with FFA's process.
The club's chief executive Bruce Dinsdale said their bid had well-capitalised and passionate backers but decided against buying in at the eleventh hour.
"Many important financial aspects of the expansion process, and the expectations around ongoing criteria, are neither clear nor specific and do not allow for appropriate financial and strategic planning," he said in a statement.
"The confidence of our investment group in the financial sustainability has therefore been significantly eroded. As such, this group will not commit to funding such a process."
FFA repudiated the idea that their expansion process promoted financial uncertainty, pointing to the volume of bids.
"FFA has received 15 EOI registrations representing groups across Australia, many that have been actively working with the FFA and Deloitte and are well advanced in their pursuit of an A-League licence," a statement said.
"All parties have been aware that the initial EOI stage is followed by a much more rigorous Request for Proposal stage at which far more detailed information, including financial information, is provided."
While the Strikers are the first expansion bidders to withdraw from the formal process, other bid groups have privately expressed similar concerns.
The two successful clubs may not receive annual dividends from FFA until the next broadcast deal, still another five years away, because the existing 10 clubs are unwilling to split their share any further.
FFA is also expected to seek an expansion fee that could be upwards of $10 million for each new entrant to help underwrite the costs associated with growing the competition.
The Strikers won the NSL in 1997 but missed out on joining the A-League in 2005 when FFA bosses selected a new entity, the Queensland Roar, to take the sole licence from the sunshine state.
They now play in the Queensland state league out of Perry Park, which they promised to transform to a 15,000-seat stadium with a successful A-League bid.
Their withdrawal leaves FFA with two options to expand the league in Queensland; Brisbane City and Gold Coast United.