Tropical Townsville wants NZ's A-League license

The far north Queensland city of Townsville could have a team in Australia's A-League as early as next season after Football Federation Australia gave New Zealand Soccer until 1 March to take up the league's vacant licence caused by the cancellation of the New Zealand Knights franchise. If NZS fails to come up with a suitable alternative before the deadline it is expected that FFA will need include a new Australian team to meet Pay-TV programming obligations. Tropical Football Australia project director James Gage has been in Melbourne for the past week to meet with FFA officials about the possibility of Townsville stepping in to take the vacant licence for the 2007/08 season. "They sounded us out as to where our bid was and the possibility of finalising the bid if something happened," Gage told Josh Alston of the Townsville Bulletin. "I've had talks with prospective board members and we've come down (to Melbourne) with views on entering next year. "We've made it quite clear we will move heaven and earth to take advantage of that option."

Townsville's bid has been further boosted with support from New Zealand legend and Oceania player of the century Wynton Rufer who travelled to Melbourne with Gage. Should Townsville be granted the vacant licence, Rufer tops the list of coaching candidates. "We would do whatever we could (to join the A-League in 2007/08), but we may need some assistance in the area of availability of players," Gage said. "Other teams have already started their recruitment and swapping of players." But since Rufer joined the push for a Townsville team five A-League players have contacted TFA to express interest in joining the club.

See also: New A-League franchises appeal to regions (16 Nov 06) and Changchun Yatai enters tropical Australian event (15 May 06)