Aussies' early move to Champions League rebuffed

Football Federation Australia reportedly made last-minute overtures to play in the 2006-07 Asian Champions League starting this week. Having just joined the Asian Football Confederation on 1 January this year and with its national A-league just half-way through its first season, Australia was not included in the current Champions League program. However, wth four teams disqualified from the competition for failing to complete their paperwork on time (Thailand's Provincial Electricity FC and Tobacco Monopoly FC and Indonesia's Arema Malang and Persipura Jayapura), two of the tournement's seven qualifying groups now have only two competing clubs instead of four.

According to The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), FFA's informal approach last week to the Kuala Lumpur-based AFC gain late representation in the rich tournament was refused. "The reason the [Indonesian and Thailand] teams [were] ejected is because the AFC wants to set new standards of professionalism," a spokesman told the newspaper. "It's a warning to all clubs. If we invite Australia we will be seen as applying double standards. So Australia will have to wait until next year."

FFA head of operations Matt Carroll yesterday confirmed the Australian approach but added that the FFA's criteria for selecting the two Australian teams to take part in the 2007-08 series was not yet finalised. "Our way of thinking is the teams to represent Australia would be the winners of the minor Premiership and the Grand Final," Carroll said. "If the same team won both titles, then the losing grand finalist would play in Asia."

See also: First A-League championship won by Sydney FC (5 Mar)