Wolves at the door of A-League expansion
THE Wollongong Wolves have declared they are a proud club that would fill a football void along the New South Wales south coast, as the race for A-League expansion intensifies.
The former National Soccer League champions have vowed to fly solo but expand their borders, as they prepare to reveal an Australia-first indigenous program to supplement their strong junior base.
A Sutherland bid, involving Cronulla Sharks boss and former Football Federation Australia executive Lyall Gorman, has been favoured to land a new A-League licence, while the fast-growing south-west corridor of Sydney (Campbelltown-Liverpool) has also been mooted as a potential home for a new club.
Expansion excitement has reached fever pitch since October with no less than 10 consortiums interested in joining the A-League, but FFA has delayed the criteria release until February.
Chris Papakosmas quit a corporate career to become Wolves' full-time chief executive in November and said they have a compelling case for 2018 inclusion.
"We've got a new management in place ready to push for an A-League licence. We're all South-Coast born and bred, business and sports people and we'll give it red-hot go," he said.
"We have every bit of the jigsaw puzzle for an A-League licence. The infrastructure's in place, corporate backing, a nursery, passion and the Wolves have had past success.
"From Newcastle down to Sydney FC you're covered. Beneath that there's a huge chunk missing.
"It's a huge area desperate for representative football. We plan to cover the region from Helensburgh to the Victorian border.
"Illawarra continues to expand, Shoalhaven is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia. Population wise we'd be pushing a million people."
Papakosmas said local products no longer had pathways like 2010 World Cup trio Scott Chipperfield, Luke Wilkshire and Adam Federici did.
Hence the Wolves would retain their state league (NPL1) status, promote the Illawarra Stingrays into the W-League and provide exciting pathways for juniors.
"We're not a hybrid, manufactured team. The Wolves are a proud club with a significant local, national and international fanbase," Papakosmas said.
"We had 12,000 on a freezing Wednesday night in the FFA Cup against Sydney FC at WIN Stadium. We're confident we'll attract strong crowds.
"We're finalising an agreement with an ex Socceroo and current A-League player for an indigenous program in what will be a first for football in this country, where a football and education program will be tied in.
"We're continually producing quality players who have to move away."