Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) today welcomed the decision by Football Federation Australia (FFA) to establish an A-League club in Western Sydney, the birthplace of Socceroos such as Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton, as well as former Socceroos Paul Okon and Mark Bosnich. The west of Sydney is also the home of several famous National Soccer League clubs including Sydney United, Sydney Olympic and Marconi.

According to PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab, the PFA has long advocated that Western Sydney – the heartland of football in Australia – be given a viable presence in the A-League to maximise the competition’s playing quality, attendances and national television audience.  Indeed, the PFA first argued for Western Sydney to be pursued in advance of smaller regional markets in its original blueprint for the A-League published a decade ago.

“As with all A-League clubs, the challenge will be to convert the massive participation base of Western Sydney and interest in the game into being avid fans of the new A-League club,” Schwab said.  “The level of interest and participation in Western Sydney should, if the local community is properly engaged, set the standard for the rest of the A-League competition.”

“The PFA believes that, with at least ten teams for next season including two in both Sydney and Melbourne, the A-League is properly structured for the medium term and all involved in the game must make a steadfast commitment to the long term sustainability of all clubs.

“Professional football is ultimately a club game.  Players play for clubs, and fans support them.  The building of famous professional clubs in Australia is the game’s number one challenge.”

The PFA feels FFA’s decision to seek to establish the new franchise by 2012/13 is certainly ambitious.

“FFA has set itself an enormous challenge to have the new club up and running in time for the 2012/13 A-League season,” Schwab said.  “However, with the support of the Australian government and strategic alignment with the grass roots bodies of New South Wales, it is a challenge the game can and simply must meet.

“The PFA and the players will do everything they can to make the team a success, and, unlike competing football codes, the current free labour market and player payments regime as set out in the A-League Collective Bargaining Agreement will help the club quickly build a competitive team,” Schwab added.

The PFA will continue to assist the Gold Coast United players while awaiting the decision of FFA on the future of the club.