The postponement of the A-League’s expansion into Australian football’s heartland – Western Sydney – is a great disappointment for the game, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Chief Executive Brendan Schwab said today.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Sydney Rovers, its nominated franchisee, agreed that FFA should seek further expressions of interest following the Rovers’ inability to attract the requisite capital base.
“There is no more important place for an A-League team than Western Sydney,” Schwab said.
“Over the last 50 years, the region has produced many of Australia’s greatest players.  This was only possible through the passion and knowledge shown by the area’s many volunteers, players and clubs.
“The region’s leading clubs constantly played some of the best national league football ever seen in this country, relying largely on home grown players.
“The Marconi sides of the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s were particularly successful, and the Sydney United team that lost the 1997 Grand Final to Brisbane Strikers was arguably one of the best teams never to win the old National Soccer League title.
“Those two clubs alone helped produce many Socceroos including, to name a few, Mark Schwarzer, Zeljko Kalac, Robbie Slater, Graham Arnold, Ante Milicic, Ian Gray, Steve Corica, Gary van Egmond, Paul Okon, Tony Popovic, Jason Culina, David Seal, Brad Maloney, Frank Farina, Mark Bosnich, Jacob Burns, Eddie Krncevic and David Zdrilic.  There are, of course, many others.
“Not all of these players were locals – but all were attracted to the region that had established itself as the centre of football in Australia,” Schwab added.
The PFA is pleased that FFA continues to see expansion into Western Sydney as essential.
“The huge levels of interest in the game – coupled with the nation’s highest participation base – mean that the market essentials exist for the Western Sydney franchise to become the A-League’s most powerful if it is set up on the correct foundations,” Schwab said.