Gold Coast formally bids for AFL licence - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gold Coast formally bids for AFL licence

By Laine Clark 22/04/2008 06:55:56 PM Comments (0)

A Gold Coast AFL bid team has been handed a daunting list of criteria to meet in six months in order to earn the league's 17th licence.

But the biggest hurdles facing the Gold Coast team will have to be cleared by the AFL.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou revealed the criteria after the bid team officially applied for 2011 entry.

The bid team is headed by Gold Coast lawyer John Witheriff, ex-Brisbane Lions president Graeme Downie and Southport football club president Alan Mackenzie.

Criteria includes showing it has the capacity for 20,000 members and 111 sponsors and providing first class training and administration facilities.

The latter looms as a major headache.

The outdated Carrara Stadium requires a revamp with estimates ranging from $80 million to $300 million.

Demetriou said Carrara was one of a number of options being considered - all of them based on the Gold Coast.

Which leads to the next problem - the AFL are yet to re-negotiate a deal with the Queensland Government that effectively bans a Gold Coast-based team from playing in that area until 2016.

However, Demetriou said the AFL - not the bid team - would solve both problems.

"It is an obligation of the AFL, that's what we have been involved in for a number of months and it continues - we are very confident and comfortable with where we are at at the moment," Demetriou said.

"We want John and his team to focus purely and solely on hitting the criteria so that in six months' time we can grant the license of this club, it can be established and we get on with the participating in our competition in 2011."

In keeping with the rollercoaster ride the AFL has endured since first revealing they wanted a Gold Coast team, the announcement came with a twist.

Demetriou called a press conference to announce the Gold Coast group had been given six months to meet criteria.

But the bid team then promptly announced their plans wouldn't be revealed until another press conference on Thursday.

"There is a compelling argument for an AFL team to be here. (But) issues around staffing, coaches etc, etc I'm sure along the way you will hear more about," Demetriou said.

There is speculation former Lions champion Michael Voss will be the Gold Coast's first big signing as coach, expected to be on a five-year contract, and the fledgling club's chief executive will be unveiled by June.

But Witheriff said the bid team, who will work with senior AFL manager Scott Munn to meet the criteria, would reveal more after a board meeting on Tuesday night.

"We understand the enormity of the task ahead of us. It is really now over to us, the Gold Coast community, to ensure that this happens," he said.

"The AFL can't make it happen. It is the people and businesses of the Gold Coast who are going to make it happen.

"I wouldn't be sitting here today if I didn't think we could meet the criteria that Andrew had outlined - we are ready to be part of the AFL."

But Demetriou spoke as if the Gold Coast team was a done deal.

"Our priority for the next few years is to establish a 17th team on the Gold Coast - that's our next team, that's our next club," he said.

Besides finding a stadium, Demetriou said the AFL would also help establish player access rules with which the team will build their list.

The Gold Coast must recruit a team to compete in a second-tier competition in 2009, with a senior list in place for the 2011 AFL season.

The AFL is reportedly considering giving the Gold Coast club priority access to the Northern Territory's best talent.

Demetriou said the existing 16 clubs would be consulted over the next two weeks to nut out recruiting rules for the new club.

The bid team is largely running on private money, with Witheriff's legal firm and AFLQ powerhouse Southport Sharks contributing.

Meanwhile, Demetriou said having no coach in place should not hinder the Gold Coast bid's sponsorship or membership drive.

"I don't think you should get hooked up on the coach," he said.

"There will be a coach appointed for the team that plays next year in the second tier competition.

"One shouldn't assume that that coach will be the coach down the track - who knows who might be available in 2011."

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