Spirits are high among Ipswich football fans after the city’s state championship winning team, Western Pride, secured a spot in the next round of Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) plan to expand the Hyundai A-League with two licences up for grabs in the 2019-2020 season.
Expressions of interest were called for across the country with Western Pride among the 15 clubs to answer the call.
At the end of June, FFA announced the 10 clubs, including Ipswich, which had been chosen to take part in the next stage of the expansion process.
So what’s next for Ipswich’s A-League bid?
Western Pride’s general manager Pat Boyle said the next step was for the club to put together a more detailed, formal bid submission and submit to FFA by 31 August.
Once the submissions are in, they will be assessed by FFA with an announcement on the granting of new licences expected in October 2018.
Mr Boyle said it was “excitement plus” among Ipswich’s football supporters after Western Pride’s success in being invited to make a formal bid to join the A-League.
“For Western Pride it’s been a fantastic six years since the club was formed,” he said.
“In that time we’ve been able to hold a grand final and become state champs, and so this is the next step. From here, if we were successful, then away we go.
Mr Boyle said the club was formed to give Ipswich football players a pathway to progress to the highest levels of the game.
He said securing a spot in the A-League was the next step in the club delivering on that commitment to players.
“It would be wonderful for the region. I think we are one of the fastest growing clubs in the country,” he said.
“Ipswich has a rich sporting history. I have no doubt that we have the city behind us and that people would embrace an A-League side if we were successful.”
The bid being put together by Western Pride is for a men’s side, however Mr Boyle said the club would more than welcome a W-League licence if a similar opportunity arose.
“We would certainly embrace a W-League licence because we are all about equality at the club,” he said.
“Our ladies program is continuing to improve and I’m very excited about what we will see in that space in the next couple of years.”
If Western Pride is not successful, it will not be the club’s last opportunity to join the A-League, FFA also signalling its intent to expand the A-League further in future years.