Canberra's A-League bid has a pulse and the Central Coast Mariners have emerged as a potential pathway for the capital to join the competition.
It's understood the Canberra bid team and its investors have been working in the background to try to secure a licence to play in the A-League despite being rejected by the FFA 12 months ago.
Mariners' owner Mike Charlesworth has reportedly received two unsolicited bids for the club's licence, one believed to be from Canberra.
A deal could move quickly and be done in the coming months, but the politics of the A-League could delay any transfer or potential sale well into next year even if the Mariners decide they are for sale. The Mariners declined to comment on Friday.
The FFA snubbed Canberra's attempt to win an A-League spot last year, deciding to instead add third teams in Melbourne and Sydney as part of its expansion plans.
But Canberra still believes there is an avenue to reviving men's elite soccer in the city and buying the licence of either the Mariners or the Wellington Phoenix could be the best options.
The A-League will become a fully independent competition next year after the FFA relinquished control after striking a deal in July.
It was hoped the move would lead to significant investment in the A-League despite recent off-field declines.
Canberra put a compelling case to the FFA last year, getting to the final stage of the expansion process for the capital was overlooked for the second time in 10 years.
That did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the bid team - led by Michael Caggiano - and its overseas investors, who have been keen to keep alive their chances of building a team.
It's believed the asking price for a licence is about $15 million, but that number could drop given the Mariners' persistent financial problems in recent years.
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The Mariners have had five coaches in the past six years and finished last on the ladder last season. The Mariners are sixth this year having won two of six matches.
The club averaged just 5562 fans per game at home last season, including the lowest single-game attendance when just 3703 watched their clash against the Phoenix.
The Mariners have attempted to build a relationship with Canberra's soccer community in the past, playing two games in the capital in the 2016-17 season. Those matches attracted 5072 and 5497 fans.
But buying a licence would be a new beginning, with plans to launch a Canberra side in the men's national league for the first time since the Cosmos went bust in 2001.
Canberra's proposal has been bolstered by the ACT government's $20 million investment in a new "home of football" to be built at Throsby in the coming years.
Capital Football will also spend $4.5 million on the training and headquarters facility, which could be a perfect base for Canberra's A-League and W-League sides.
Canberra was the only A-League expansion bid which included details of a women's team. Canberra United joined the W-League for the inaugural season in 2008 and has been one of the competition's most successful teams.
A-League boss Greg O'Rourke fronted a fan forum in Canberra earlier this year, saying the city could have an A-League team within three years as the competition looks to continue expanding.
The FFA identified Canberra as the next bid in line for expansion after the last round, but Brisbane is also keen to add a second team to the city.
Melbourne's Western United joined the competition this year and Macarthur South-West Sydney will be added for the 2020-21 season. Canberra could be added in 2021-22 and Brisbane to follow in 2022-23 to meet requirements of an existing broadcast deal.