They missed out the first time, but Team 11 have bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on A-League expansion and are primed to try again in the next intake of new clubs.
The bid, based in Melbourne’s southeast, was outgunned by the Western Melbourne Group, now formally known as Western United, as well as the Macarthur Southwest Sydney bid to enter the league in 2020.
A decisive point in FFA’s eyes, highlighted at a major press conference in December, was United’s plan to privately build a new stadium in Tarneit, a western suburb expected to sprawl both in infrastructure and population in the coming years.
Team 11 meanwhile were relying on government funding to built a new stadium in Dandenong, alongside the suburb’s train station, which would have housed the club along with other sports and entertainment.
The plans had been pitched to the Victorian government, but ultimately, it became a case of who blinks first.
FFA wanted to know if the funding was going to come, while Spring Street wanted to know if Team 11 was going to get the licence. After all, the club would have been the major tenant of the new venue.
Nothing came to pass.
Head office pointed to Team 11’s plan to play out of AFL ground Casey Fields, at least on an interim basis for the best part of two years, as unappealing.
But now Team 11 are primed to go again and have maintained key investors and staff, including Projects Officer Matt Windley and key shareholders: Gerry Ryan, Ghadir Razuki, RMBL Investments, Intrapac Property, Pellicano Group and a local consortium.
The bid has retained the backing of three councils: the City of Greater Dandenong, the City of Casey and the Cardinia Shire.
In a statement, Team 11 – who could soon operate under a different working title – declared their renewed intention to bring men’s and women’s football to Victoria’s southeast in the top division, or potentially below.
The bid would still require funding to bankroll its stadium plans, which will again make or break any future plans.
“We have had great support from our local federal MPs and will continue to engage with them about any potential avenues: federal, state, local, private, whatever, to get that thing happening,” Windley said.
Planning is well underway for the implementation of an independent A-League as well as a national second division, with both the New Leagues Working Group and National Second Division Working Group holding meetings.
Speaking on Thursday’s Daily Football Show, Windley said Team 11 would be interested in being part of a second division if overlooked again for an A-League licence, but would require further documented plans.
Windley added the bid would need to assess the viability of entry into a second division, particularly without the caveat of promotion and relegation in the short to medium term.
Crucially, the second division option could only be explored if government could be convinced to finance the stadium knowing the club would not be playing top-tier football.
“Does a government fund a 15,000 or 20,000-seat stadium on the back of a second division licence … and with such non-clarity around the success and the financial veracity of that league?” Windley queried.
“Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. But Casey Fields is a great option … can we make that footy (AFL) oval rectangular? No.
“But that training base (at Casey Fields) with that main fifth pitch … for the A-League team and any rectangular football team based out there, that could be able to host anywhere between 4,000 to 8,000 people with temporary stands.
“That’s what we would have out forward and would be perfect for a second division as an interim venue that Dandenong (Stadium) gets built, or an A-League licence gets provided.”