Why the Gold Coast Must Keep Chasing A-League Place

Why the Gold Coast Must Keep Chasing A-League Place

Gold Coast is a tried-and-failed region in the A-League, which raises questions about its suitability to secure a franchise in the top flight of Australian soccer.

Gold Coast is a tried-and-failed region in the A-League, which raises questions about its suitability to secure a franchise in the top flight of Australian soccer.

However, after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, we assess why they must keep pushing to secure a place in the A-League for the 2025/26 season.

What happened to Gold Coast United?

Gold Coast United, the former A-League team of the Gold Coast, was established in mid-2008 by Clive Palmer, an Australian businessman and Queensland’s wealthiest man.

The club played during the 2009/10 A-League season, but Palmer’s management style led to internal disruptions within the club’s administration and fanbase.

Gold Coast lasted just three seasons in the Australian top flight before Palmer’s A-League licence was revoked at the back end of the 2011/12 season,

The demise of Gold Coast United occurred when Palmer, who was in constant conflict with Football Federation Australia (FFA), decided to pull his funding from the club.

The FFA did not intervene, and Melbourne Heart replaced Gold Coast in the then 10-team competition.

Gold Coast United’s collapse marked the third time in seven seasons that an A-League team had collapsed after the New Zealand Knights (2006/07) and North Queensland Fury (2010/11).

Gold Coast Resrugence

Somehow, Gold Coast United appear to have risen from the dead, with the original name, logo and colours reappearing as the club recommenced operations in 2018.

They have participating in Queensland’s semi-professional state league – the closest thing Australia has to a national second division.

Once regarded as the nation’s most mocked sporting franchise, the revived Gold Coast United is focused on establishing rock-solid foundations, spanning from grassroots levels to a potential return to the pinnacle of the A-League.

Gold Coast launched a bid to return to the A-League a few years ago, with the division announcing the possibility of adding two teams for the 2018/19 season.

The FFA confirmed receiving bids from at least 15 prospective clubs, which were subsequently narrowed down to ten.

Gold Coast were overlooked, with Western United joining the A-League in 2018. Macarthur FC was the second team admitted to the A-League in the 2020/21 campaign.

Why Gold Coast Must Keep Pushing for A-League Return

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL, previously known as FFA) announced in March that the next two expansion clubs would be based in Canberra and Auckland.

They triumphed over 11 other contenders, including north Queensland, Gold Coast and Wollongong, and are now on track to join the competition, pending the finalisation of licence applications.

The news is a major boost to the league, which will benefit from reaching new audiences, investment from sponsors and increased interest from the online gambling sector.

Sportsbook operators will be delighted to see further teams added to the A-League to boost the appeal of the competition. All of the leading Australian betting sites offer odds on A-League matches, but the introduction of new teams would help them expand the scope of their operations.

This expansion will increase the number of teams to 14 from the 2024/25 season and introduce a second New Zealand team. South East Queensland appears likely to secure one of the two future A-League expansion licences in 2025/26, following the entry of Canberra and Auckland.

For the 2025/26 expansion, Gold Coast and a second Brisbane team are the primary contenders, with the Sunshine Coast considered a hopeful outlier.

The Gold Coast, known for its skyline decorated by towering skyscrapers, is a nationally and internationally recognised landmark.

It boasts a distinct cultural and geographical identity from Brisbane, offering a new franchise the opportunity to carve its niche without overshadowing Brisbane Roar’s fanbase.

With a population of over 700,000, making it the sixth most populous region in Australia, Gold Coast has experienced substantial growth since the collapse of Gold Coast United in 2012 under Clive Palmer’s ownership.

Gold Coast is universally considered a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ for sports teams, where crowd attendance tends to casually decline once the novelty wears off.

However, after an 11-year hiatus, a new Gold Coast franchise could deliver consistent viewership, bucking the trend that saw the club previously touted as a tried-and-failed region in the A-Leagues.

In addition to the expansion plans, Football Australia has confirmed the introduction of a national second tier (NST) in 2025, featuring ten to 12 clubs.

This development offers Gold Coast an alternative pathway into the Australian football pyramid, particularly if their bid for inclusion in the A-League proves unsuccessful.

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