A-League boss Nick Garcia confident about competition’s future

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A-League boss Nick Garcia says the competition will still expand to 16 teams by the 2025-26 season, and claims its well-publicised financial woes aren’t as dire as they seem.

Currently comprising of 12 teams, the A-League men’s competition will next season add an already confirmed team from Auckland, as well as a Canberra club, whose entry is set to be announced this month.

And despite the financial problems that have engulfed the Australian Professional Leagues, which runs the A-League, Garcia is committed to two more teams joining the competition in time for the 2025-26 campaign.

“That’s still the plan” the A-League commissioner said.

“We just want to get these two (Auckland and Canberra) nailed down first before the other two.

“For the first run of expansion, one of the key criteria was to take it to new markets, but that’s not necessarily the case next time around, so there are probably a few (areas) it could be.”

It’s understood a second Queensland team is wanted by the APL, while a team in Tasmania might also be an option.

Expanding the A-League would replenish the APL with some much-needed money, with successful new licences worth $25 million.

However, Garcia was adamant the APL’s financial issues aren’t as bad as had been suggested.

That’s despite half of the APL’s workforce, which totalled more than 80, being made redundant last month, and KeepUp, the organisation’s digital arm which cost $40 million, being shelved following a review of operations three years after the APL took over the running of the competition from Football Australia.

“It is what any sensible business would be doing right now, which is checking in, realigning the strategy, (and) driving sustainability,” Garcia said.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy but we see a really clear path and we’re comfortable with that.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s a tough environment. You’ve got to really work hard and have a lot of grit and determination to continue to grow the game but that still remains absolutely our ambition.”

Garcia admitted an “aggressive growth strategy” the APL employed when taking control of the A-League from FA in December 2020 proved costly.

However, he said the APL’s cause wasn’t helped by the increased cost to run the competition during the Covic-19 pandemic.

“We were going against a headwind,” Garcia said.

While confirming the end of KeepUp, Garcia was happy with the performance of the aleagues.com.au website.

Garcia was also confident that Perth Glory, which has cost the APL millions of dollars to run since Tony Sage was stripped of the licence in July last year, was close to finding a new owner.

“It’s one bidder we’re now talking to. We are at the sharp end of that negotiation and I would expect to have that closed out in the next couple of weeks,” he said.