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Canberra Today 22°/26° | Tuesday, February 27, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Talks ‘advanced’ for a Canberra A-League Men side

Talks are “advanced” for a Canberra United men’s team to join the club’s long-established women’s XI. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Nick Garcia, of the Australian Professional Leagues, says the stop-start race to put an A-League Men franchise in Canberra is at an “advanced” stage, reports GEORGE CLARKE.

A-Leagues Commissioner Nick Garcia is adamant Canberra will have a men’s club for the start of next season, despite concerns the franchise is leaving it late to get up and running in time for 2024/25.

Canberra and Auckland were flagged as the two preferred expansion locations by the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) last year, with American billionaire Bill Foley winning the licence to run the NZ-based club.

Foley has since wasted no time in appointing ex-City Group staffer Nick Becker as chief executive of his Auckland outfit, and installing former Sydney FC boss Steve Corica as the club’s head coach.

But Canberra’s future is still clouded by uncertainty.

There have been suggestions Tasmanian expansion could supplant moves to put a team in the national capital, while Canberra United A-League Women boss Njegosh Popovich last week said his players were in the dark over their futures.

Garcia, however, remains confident a deal could be finalised in the coming weeks.

“I’m very positive about Canberra right now,” Garcia said.

“We’re in advanced discussions with a party for Canberra.”

The owners of the Canberra men’s side are expected to take over the running of the women’s club, which is currently administered by the ACT’s governing body for the sport, Capital Football.

Popovich’s concerns over players’ futures highlight a reality for the ALM franchise, with many existing clubs and the new Auckland side set to begin negotiations with off-contract players in the coming months.

But Garcia points to Canberra’s existing infrastructure as proof the new franchise would not be left behind in the transfer market.

“It’s important to understand that Canberra has a women’s team already, it’s not a cold start,” Garcia said.

“There’s a women’s team, there’s structure around the club, there’s a brand. A lot of that’s stood up.

“You’re adding a men’s team – it’s not like Auckland.

“The other thing is because there’s definitely been other bids for an A-League licence out of Canberra, so much work and public support has already been done.

“So they’ll move really fast when they’re in.”

While Canberra’s future is yet to be finalised, Garcia hinted that deals for Perth Glory, who are in receivership, and Newcastle Jets – who have been propped up by rival clubs for the best part of four years – are nearing completion.

That news will be particularly welcomed by Glory boss Alen Stajcic, who last week lashed out at the APL for not allowing him to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window.

The first casualty of the uncertainty surrounding Perth was midfielder Oli Bozanic, who announced on Monday his loan deal with the club would not be extended as a result of Glory’s financial predicament.

“On Newcastle, they are in advanced stages of negotiations,” Garcia said, adding that Perth’s receivers KordaMentha are “in negotiations, which we expect to conclude quite soon. They have a timeline that is very aggressive.”

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Australian Associated Press

Australian Associated Press

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