EXCLUSIVE: Gold Coast eye A-League return through Australian Premier League place

Top-flight football on the Gold Coast disappeared with the demise of United, but it could return within five years if the FGC have their way
GOAL.com Indonesia   EXCLUSIVE

The Gold Coast could have a new A-League team in five years if an ambitious plan to springboard a Glitter Strip team back into the national competition through the Australian Premier League comes off.

From the ashes of a failed bid to save the ill-fated Gold Coast United, a new push has emerged that hinges on Football Gold Coast's application for a license in the Queensland conference of the new second-tier APL, set to begin in 2013.

Concurrently, FGC is also well advanced in a move to secure a 21-hectare parcel of state-owned land adjacent to Metricon Stadium.

FGC has made an application to the Newman State Government for the land, on which general manager Damien Bresic hopes to build a training centre and a boutique stadium for 8000 people.

The end goal is to bring an A-League team back to the region by as soon as 2017, Bresic told Goal.com.

"Hopefully in four or five years we could go back to the FFA, show them what we've achieved and our player pathway, and say we want to come back now," he said.

"The idea is that they wouldn't have one single reason or excuse to knock us back. We're not going to die wondering."

The bold proposal for the land package is still in front of government officials, but Bresic declared "all systems go" on FGC's bid for an APL license.

If successful, FGC will establish a separate entity to run and manage a club in the new state-based competition, intended to underpin the A-League.

Bresic said the APL side will come at no significant cost to the governing body, because it will essentially be a rebadged version of their successful Junior Premier League operation.

"The only difference is a senior team," he said.

FGC director and former Gold Coast Blaze general manager Troy Bingham has been charged with steering the APL license application successfully past Football Federation Australia.

A meeting will be held on Thursday, when approval from all 29 local clubs under the FGC umbrella will vote to approve or reject the governing body's plans.

But Bresic and Bingham are both confident they will beat out a rival bid from the Palm Beach Sharks, a Gold Coast Premier League side.

The FGC club is to be run the same way as the JPL - on player fees, in a what is effectively a user-pays system - with sponsorship and potentially outside equity to be sought once the APL itself is fully established to reduce costs.

"We have no interest in picking up 30-year-old ex-pros for hundreds or thousands of dollars a month to try and win the competition," Bingham said.

"This not about trying to run-a-for-profit set-up. It's about ensuring on the Gold Coast there is a development path for every young player into an A-League environment."

Bingham insisted the Gold Coast has learned from the hard lessons of the Clive Palmer-backed United and outgoing QSL side Gold Coast Stars, which was run by businessman Ahmed Sokarno.

He said by having the APL club under the ownership and operation of FGC, the local clubs would have a vested interest and a stake in the team, which they did not have with United or the Stars.

A lack of community engagement was one of the key reasons why outspoken billionaire Palmer's A-League club is said to have fallen over.

In terms of the identity of the club, FGC is leaning towards abandoning the 'United' name and going back to the community and clubs for ideas and for a vote.

"If I was a betting man I would think we would try to come up with something new, but it will be up to clubland," Bresic said.

Bingham said if and when the club was up and running, they would be "crazy" not to have discussions with sports entrepreneur Geoffery Schuhkraft, who was behind the 'Save GCU' bid and until recently was involved with the APL effort.

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