Former Canberra NSL player PJ Roberts joins bid for A-League spot

Former Canberra NSL player PJ Roberts joins bid for A-League spot

Former Canberra Cosmos player PJ Roberts hopes top-level soccer can rise from the ashes in the capital after joining the city's A-League bid advisory board.

Singapore-based sports executive Roberts has thrown his weight behind the bid team and will work with officials to advise on potential commercial operations in Asia and building corporate support.

Paul Roberts, in red, played for the Canberra Cosmos from 1998-2000.

Paul Roberts, in red, played for the Canberra Cosmos from 1998-2000.Credit:Kate Callas

The Canberra team will submit its proposal next week in the hope of securing one of two expansion licences to join the A-League from 2019.

Roberts was nearing the end of his career when he played two seasons for the Cosmos before the club went bust in 2001.


But he wants to see the sport thrive again and is confident the bid submission has the potential to re-engage the community and disenchanted soccer fans.

"I've been following the bid from afar and the most intriguing thing for me was that I can see the value of a Canberra team in the A-League," Roberts said.

"The way it's been set up with the community-engagement model ... if you are looking at an expansion plan for the A-League, Canberra has to be introduced at some point.

"When you look at everything, it really is a compelling proposition to have Canberra involved. You've got to look at who will put bums on seats. Canberra as a region has the stadium and the ability to get strong fan engagement is large.

"I've got great memories of my time at the Cosmos. This [bid] brings back that pathway for kids in Canberra. This team isn't about a wealthy benefactor, it's about community."


The Canberra A-League bid has more than 6000 members and is understood to be in advanced talks about forming a partnership with a European club.

Many believe the FFA will pick expansion teams in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to create more derby matches to satisfy the needs of the competition's broadcaster.

But Canberra officials are confident they are building a case that will be hard for the FFA to ignore.

The A-League bid is working to finalise an arrangement with W-League club Canberra United, which is run by Capital Football, and has been in negotiations for a deal with the ACT government.


The government committed $10 million over 10 years to the previous Canberra A-League bid a decade ago, and the new team is hoping to secure an increased investment.

The W-League will be a crucial part of the expansion submission given Canberra will be the only bidder to align with an existing women's side.

Canberra United has agreed to move its base from the AIS to the University of Canberra and the potential development of a $50 million sports hub could become a base for a future A-League side.

Roberts, who has been in Singapore for the past 16 years and has been working as an analyst for Fox Sports Asia, is a Weston Creek junior and adds international business experience to the advisory board.

"Bringing in someone of PJ’s considerable experience both in professional football and Asia’s business community is a huge shot in the arm for our commercial operations," said Canberra bid leader Michael Caggiano.

"PJ has a ready-made football and business network we can tap into in Asia. His experience in broadcasting in Asia is also incredibly valuable, I’m more than thrilled that he has agreed to join us."

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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