Entrepreneur keen for Sunshine Coast A-League club
FOOTBALL: An A-League team based on the Sunshine Coast is a "very real" possibility if you believe Brisbane-based Indian entrepreneur Nirav Tripathi.
Tripathi has met with Sunshine Coast councillors and Sunshine Coast Fire FC chairman Noel Woodall to investigate establishing a George Weah-endorsed football academy and A-League team out of Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Earlier this month he commissioned a mass telephone survey on the Coast, when more than 60,000 homes were called.
Respondents were asked questions about the future of the region, their thoughts on development and whether they'd support a football academy.
"We commissioned a large survey covering quite a number of topics as we do have an interest in working with the Sunshine Coast region beyond football," Tripathi said.
The A-League is set to expand from 10 to 12 teams in 2018-19 and Tripathi, who will lead a "consortium worth billions of dollars", wants a piece of the action.
After the news broke at the weekend, Woodall confirmed he had met with Tripathi and would again in the new year.
He said his club had been in contact with the Football Federation of Australia and had been working towards a bid of its own "for some years", based on a number of factors.
"Our approach is to build the club, make sure we've got a good catchment area, that we're financially solid and have the (right) infrastructure in place," Woodall said.
He believes the club could make a bid on its own.
But Woodall said he wouldn't turn the Tripathi-led consortium away if it could bring something valuable to the table.
"We're not a cap-in-hand club," Woodall said.
Tripathi said he admired the work Woodall had done on the Coast since Fire FC was established in 2006.
"Having met Noel Woodall from Sunshine Coast FC Fire we are very encouraged about this," he said.
"Mr Woodall has unrivalled knowledge of the game, particularly on the Sunshine Coast. We look forward to continuing discussions in the new year."
He listed a number of reasons why the Sunshine Coast would be an ideal place to launch a bid.
"We believe the Sunshine Coast is attractive for a variety of reasons ... least of all are the natural assets the region has," Tripathi said.
"Additionally, the local infrastructure is there in terms of the stadium upgrade.
"We have been impressed with the international airport expansion plans and we are very excited to continue our discussions with the local government and other local stakeholders."
The Sunshine Coast Stadium upgrade began last month and is expected to be completed in the new year.
It will reportedly hold 10,000 spectators once three large hills are in place at the north, east and southern sides of the rectangular venue.
"We have had very positive feedback on both our intention to investigate Sunshine Coast as Australia's very first location for a world-class, FIFA World player of the Year George Weah-endorsed football academy and ... to look at an A-League bid on the Sunshine Coast," Tripathi said.