A-League expansion list cut to six
IPSWICH and Wollongong are out of the A-League expansion running after Football Federation Australia slashed the remaining bids down to six.
The governing body also said it is still working towards the introduction of two new teams in the 2019-20 season, on the proviso it is "satisfied the remaining bids address some outstanding issues".
As expected, FFA's outgoing board on Tuesday night deferred a decision on which hopefuls should join an expanded competition to a new board set to be elected next month, throwing into doubt the original time frame.
Still in the running are NSW bids Macarthur South West Sydney and Southern Expansion, Victorian bids Team 11, Western Melbourne and South Melbourne, and Canberra.
FFA chief executive David Gallop said further due diligence and negotiations will be undertaken with the remaining half a dozen.
"Since receiving the eight bids, we have carefully evaluated information provided and commitments made by the bidding parties. It was clear certain bids were stronger than others," Gallop said in a statement.
"We have six bids that all have positive aspects but require further work in certain areas. We need to continue our consultation with those bid teams to ensure that they adequately address these areas to ensure their future sustainability, which includes securing stadia, catchment area and financial capital.
"It is critical that FFA can be satisfied the successful bidders will be sustainable from day one as well as meet a variety of commitments that will benefit the longer-term growth of the Hyundai A-League."
With the appetite for expansion at an all-time high, the governing body had been on track to announce two new entrants to a 12-team competition before October 31.
But this delay has been heavily anticipated since major changes to the sport's governance were finally passed a fortnight ago.
Multiple members of the FFA board are expected to stand down next month and it's been viewed as inconceivable they could make such a significant decision.
With a new A-League working group in place to design a new model for the competition by the end of March, there's heavy speculation the teams won't be picked until the new year, in turn likely pushing back their introduction until season 2020-21.
FFA said it would work with consultants Deloitte to finalise plans for expansion in time to present at the next FFA board meeting after November's annual general meeting, though it's unclear when exactly that will be held.
"It is universally acknowledged that expansion of the Hyundai A-League is an important next step forward," Gallop said.
"We know it will provide a shot in the arm for our game by providing more opportunities for young Australian footballers, bringing in new fans and engaging new communities.
"We look forward to continuing to work with these groups, the existing clubs and other stakeholders to make expansion a success for the whole of football.
"FFA will continue to work towards expansion in the next season of the Hyundai A-League should it be satisfied the remaining bids address some of these outstanding issues."