Football Federation Australia officials have moved to ease tension over Canberra's snubbed A-League bid, but said guaranteeing expansion in the capital would be "playing with your emotions".
Australian soccer's leading voices were in Canberra on Wednesday night to meet with fans at a forum about the future of the game.
The major focus of the night was upset supporters seeking answers from the FFA about Canberra was overlooked in A-League expansion process last year to instead add third teams in Sydney and Melbourne.
FFA chief executive David Gallop and A-League boss Greg O'Rourke attempted to assure the capital's soccer community they would be one of the next to be considered for a licence.
Canberra A-League bid-leader Michael Caggiano pleaded with the pair to give him a concrete timeline for the process to allow him to speak with his investors about staying committed to having a team in the city.
"I understand the frustration ... I don't think we're as far away as people think to the next round of A-League expansion," O'Rourke said.
"But it would be false hope to any expansion bid, whether you or anywhere else, to say it will be on [a certain] date."
Canberra was the last stop on the FFA's Australia-wide tour to meet with stakeholders to discuss the health of the game and plans for the coming years.
The officials also spoke about building stronger pathways and greater connections to grassroots soccer, pay equity for Australia's top female players, participation growth, the battle for television rights revenue and the deteriorating state of facilities around the country.
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But the A-League dominated thoughts, frustrations, questions and confusion after Canberra was overlooked for expansion the second time in 10 years.
Frustrations were directed towards FFA officials because of a perceived "bias" against Canberra and a desire to capitalise on growth areas of Australia rather than investing in existing fans in the ACT region.
O'Rourke said he was attending the Canberra event to "front up" to the supporters and attempted to give clarity on a path to join the A-League.
O'Rourke said earlier this week he hoped the A-League would expand by one or two teams by 2021 as the competition moves towards a home-and-away games structure.
Caggiano's concerns, however, are that the lack of a concrete timeline to expand will affect his investment group's commitment. "What should I tell our investors," Caggiano asked.
"I think you should be telling your investors that there is another round, if not another two rounds, to go to 13 and 14 teams [in the A-League]," O'Rourke said.
"Canberra is very much in that lens ... Whether it's that group of investors or another group of investors, the idea of Canberra being in the A-League is very real."
Gallop added: "We've got to be blunt enough to say the next couple of years will dictate where the game is at financially.
"We've got to find the revenue because otherwise we won't be talking about expansion. I think Canberra is well placed to be one of the next cabs off the rank. It would be irresponsible for us to the whole game to make [expansion guarantees]."