Here we go again…

by Neil Sherwin

Another year, another new franchise for Australian sport.

It’s becoming difficult to keep track of all the emerging entities across the various codes with quirky nicknames now at a premium.

The A-League is about to get another new club, its third since 2009, but sadly the new Western Sydney incarnation will almost certainly be taking the place of Gold Coast United.

The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon as chief executive Ben Buckley was joined by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and members of local government.

“I’m delighted that the funding from the Gillard Government will help create a fertile environment for the new Hyundai A-League club in Western Sydney,” said Buckley.

“From day one of its existence the new club will have a core focus on community engagement. The community will have a say in the culture, colours, name and logo of the new entity and we will explore a model that would allow for community ownership.

“In partnership with Football NSW, FFA will ensure the club is truly integrated in community football, schools programs and the elite player pathway.

“We intend to build a model that will be driven by the passion of the football people in Sydney’s west.”

A total of $8 million will be put into football in the region which will go towards improving facilities and women’s football amongst other things.

Shoehorning a side into the A-League with less than six months to prepare for the 2012/13 season is very risky business, especially when you consider that Buckley has overseen two failed expansion projects in recent years.

Sure, Gold Coast were always going to struggle under the guidance of owner Clive Palmer, but if the FFA are prepared to fund a fourth New South Wales side then surely they could have afforded an existing side the same privilege.

By killing off Gold Coast the FFA are admitting to their mistakes without actually having the testicular fortitude to say so.

Their decision to cull North Queensland Fury instead of Gold Coast at the end of the 2010/11 season was an error born out of a desire to keep Palmer and his millions in the game, but of course that has backfired spectacularly.

Now the mess has been cleaned up to an extent but not without fallout in the form of a disappointed core group of Gold Coast fans who have strived valiantly to save what has very much become their club.

The timing of the Western Sydney announcement is also somewhat disappointing given we are smack bang in the middle of a very exciting finals series.

Why take the focus of the on field action? Of course time is of the essence but to the casual outsider it’s just one drama after another in the A-League this season.

The FFA has wanted a side in Western Sydney for a long time given it is supposedly a football stronghold, so now that they have one it’s imperative that the franchise succeeds for the future of the game in this country.

The next few months of establishment will be interesting to say the least.

This article first appeared on The Football Sack, follow them on Twitter.

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