Football Gold Coast expansion plans revealed
KINGSCLIFF coach Ross Fenech didn't expect to complete a season this year, let alone be fighting for a Premier League promotion.
Now in his seventh year coaching the Wolves, Fenech has been at the coalface of the club's bid to compete in Gold Coast football's top flight.
Now after a prolonged season shutdown, 14 weeks and six teams stand between Kingscliff and the Gold Coast Premier League as officials prepare for a 10-team competition next year.
"It's an unexpected season that could reap big rewards," Fenech said.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for all Coast League teams to knuckle down and sprint to the season.
"The grand prize is huge and you've got a pretty solid case of staying in the Premier League as well with no real threat of relegation.
"Clubs like Tweed and Murwillumbah will no doubt have those aspirations, but we also want to stake our claim."
Palm Beach currently holds the mantle as the most southern club competing in the Premier League, but Fenech is adamant the Southern Gold Coast region has more talent to give.
With new fields and facilities on the way, Fenech believes Kingscliff could attract a hoard of aspiring footballers and evolve into a competitive club if it earned promotion.
"The region is so rich with juniors and even stretching down to northern NSW as well," he said.
"If we can get there, I believe we can attract a lot of people to the club to play at a higher level and become a strong alternative to Palm Beach.
"I think we'd be able to compete at a certain level.
"I'm not sitting here and saying we'll make the top four, but once we're there, our team has an average age of around 21 years old so we'll gain a lot of experience. We've just got to get there first."
Kingscliff has already proved its potential, defeating Southport in the FFA Cup and Burleigh in a recent trial match months after downing Mudgeeraba 10-0 in their Coast League opener.
They will finally restart their season on August 1 against Tweed.
"We've lost a few lads and gained a few due to the break so it's been a balancing act but we're ready to get on with it," Fenech said.
Kingscliff has also been dealing with the additional challenge of trying to cross a busy border to compete in a Gold Coast league.
Last week, it took Fenech's squad an hour and a half to cross for their practice match against Burleigh.
"We just have to make sure we leave early," he said.
EARLIER: OFFICIALS CONFIDENT COAST BOASTS ENOUGH DEPTH
FOOTBALL Gold Coast officials strongly believe the Glitter Strip boasts enough depth and talent to sustain a 12-team Premier League competition after revealing plans for expansion.
The Premier League will expand from eight to 10 teams for the 2021 season with plans to house 12 sides by 2024.
The 2020 Premier League and Coast League seasons will restart on July 31 before the top two Coast League sides are granted automatic promotion into the 2021 Premier League.
Football Gold Coast senior director and veteran player Chris Broadfoot formulated the expansion plan and believes the Coast's two top leagues will benefit because of it.
"I think we will (have enough depth) because a lot of people on the Gold Coast play football and we've got a lot of kids coming through looking for an opportunity to play senior football which this gives them," Broadfoot said.
"We already have a strong Premier League so we want to create the same in the Coast league and give kids from age 16-18 the chance to play in a competitive competition.
"You find at the moment a lot of teenagers go and play metro football so hopefully this will allow them to develop.
"It's going to come down to the clubs and the plans they put in place, but we want everyone to be pushing for promotion and for a spot in the Premier League.
"It will take a good two or three years to see some good results but there's a lot to look forward to."
Broadfoot and Football Gold Coast consulted 15 Coast clubs, players and presidents about the proposed restructure and "99 per cent" were excited by the additional opportunity.
It is hoped the new system will allow current Premier League clubs to grow into their place in the league and avoid lopsided results generated by Mudgeeraba and Tweed in 2019.
"We already have eight strong teams in the Premier League and we don't want to lose the likes of Robina, Southport and Broadbeach who all have great facilities and programs," Broadfoot said.
"We want to keep them in the league and allow them to grow.
"There's also the idea for clubs to field only having to field one team in Coast League which could lure the likes of Magic and Murwillumbah back to senior football.
"A competitive Coast League will lead to a competitive Premier League."
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Broadfoot said Football Gold Coast was also in talks with Football Brisbane and Football Sunshine Coast to form a post-season Champions League against the cream of Queensland football.
EARLIER: PLAN TO BOOST THE PREMIER LEAGUE
THE Gold Coast Premier League will endeavour to become a 12-team competition by 2024.
And after an extensive review by Football Gold Coast board of directors, staff and key stakeholders, it has been confirmed the 2020 season will resume next Friday.
Both the eight-team Premier League and six -team Coast League will resume where the season left off and all games already played will count towards the final standings.
Premier League sides will play a two-round competition, with each team playing each other twice including the fixtures that have already been decided. The Coast League will be a three-round fixture.
The final round is scheduled for Saturday, October 24.
Following the season, the top two Coast League teams will be granted automatic promotion to expand to a 10-team competition in 2021.
The eighth-placed Premier League side at the conclusion of the season will play a twolegged playoff for the final spot in 2021 against the thirdranked Coast League team.
Grand final day is slated for Saturday, November 14.
The finals format will be a straight knockout, with matches beginning on the weekend of November 6.
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The league champions will meet side four while side two and three will play off with the winners to advance to the grand final.
The two playoff games have been scheduled for Tuesday, October 27, and Saturday, October 31.
Affiliation fees have also been reduced to $1000 for Premier League sides and $300 for Coast League clubs.
In the 2021 season, 10 Premier League sides will battle it out across 18 games with one team to be automatically relegated and one Coast League club to be automatically promoted to the Premier League.
The Premier League will continue as a 10-team league for the 2022 season before expanding to 12 teams in 2023 and onwards.
A memo submitted to Gold Coast football clubs by football operations officer Alan Marquez said Football Gold Coast had arrived at the slate of changes after extensive consultation with its board, staff and key stakeholders.
"The factors that have brought the premise of a 12-team Premier League to the forefront is a stronger, sustainable competition, bringing a sense of prestige to our highest competition and to continue to be at the top of competitions throughout the southeast Queensland region," it read.
"The plan formulated is something that we will strive to build and nurture, with the idea of strengthening the second-tier competition to ensure a solid system across the board."