Despite the success of the Western Sydney Wanderers, Ivan Slavich believes the FFA made the wrong choice in awarding the most recent licence to the Wanderers. Photo: Darren Pateman
Former chairman of the A-League4Canberra bid, Ivan Slavich, concedes an A-League team in Canberra is ''some way off'' and insists Football Federation Australia made the wrong choice in awarding the most recent licence to Western Sydney.
A year to the day since the greatest success story in Australian sport was born, the now-defunct Canberra consortium channelled the remaining $150,000 of foundation funds into the growth of men's football in the national capital.
Slavich remains upset Canberra missed out to the Wanderers, which required a multimillion-dollar injection from the federal government and the FFA to get off the ground last year.
Ivan Slavich hopes to see a Canberra A-League team during his lifetime. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
''I'm still quite disappointed there wasn't an A-League team in Canberra,'' Slavich said. ''We were told by the FFA that Canberra's the next cab off the rank in terms of an A-League side, but strategically they wanted one in western Sydney.
''The last thing I'd want to see is there to be sour grapes from our part.
''An A-League team is some way off, but I'm hoping there's one in Canberra before the end of my lifetime.''
The FFA's immediate focus is consolidating the current 10-team competition and building on the massive improvements of this season.
A large portion of that can be attributed to the Wanderers, which have captured the imagination of western Sydney on and off the field.
The most passionate fan base in the country has coincided with the Wanderers collecting the Premier's Plate in their debut campaign.
Canberra's bid began in 2008, securing more than $360,000 in foundation memberships and $4 million in corporate and government support, but falling short of the $6 million required by the FFA.
''The annoying thing for me is you've got rugby union represented, rugby league represented, AFL represented and football still is the No. 1 sport in Canberra,'' Slavich said.
''Western Sydney actually had no money, it was the federal government and the FFA that put in money to establish the Wanderers, but they see Canberra as the next logical place to put an A-League team. It will be when they're ready to expand.''
Until that day comes, the Youth United program will enable Canberra's up-and-coming stars to show their wares to A-League clubs.
The six-figure cash injection will fund Youth United games against National Youth League and A-League teams during the year. Capital Football paid the Newcastle Jets $4000 for last year's match with the ACT Rockets, while $3500 was spent on bringing a Central Coast Mariners youth team to Canberra.
''Capital Football appreciates the need to continue building a pathway to assist in the development of talented young players, to enable them to progress to the National Youth League and beyond, and this funding will certainly help towards obtaining that goal,'' Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid said.
''While we are sad the A-League bid was not successful, we are grateful the corporate partners and the football community of Canberra have agreed to pass on these funds for the future development of male players."