NORTH Queensland Fury are targeting a return to the A-League, W-League and National Youth League after the club was reborn with a winning bid to join the new Queensland Australian Premier League.
Football Queensland revealed the former A-League club – now known as Northern Fury – will be one of 12 competing in the state’s second-tier Australian Premier League division next year.
The successful applicants include a mix of local clubs, former national league participants, A-League aspirants and newly formed entities, with the majority hailing from the state’s heavily populated south-east corner.
In addition to Northern Fury, the other clubs are Brisbane City, Brisbane Strikers, Central Queensland FC, Far North Queensland Bulls, Moreton Bay United, Olympic FC, Palm Beach Sharks, Queensland Academy of Sport, Redlands United, Sunshine Coast Fire and Western Pride.
Participating clubs will be granted a five year licence, although Football Queensland did not rule out increasing the number of participating clubs during that period if demand warranted.
It is understood Brisbane Roar were approached by Football Queensland to field their National Youth League squad in the competition, however the A-League champions indicated they would not be ready to compete next year.
Football Queensland CEO Geoff Foster singled out Fury’s successful application during a wide-ranging press conference launching the new league.
“You may remember the name Northern Fury,” Foster said. “That isn’t an accident and it isn’t plagiarism.
“It is in fact the former A-League club holding company that will be holding the APL licence. It will have as one of its administration people Rabieh Krayem, who was CEO at the time the (A-League) licence was removed from the club.
“They have ambitions to have a team in the National Youth League within two years; they have ambitions for a women’s team within three years; and they would like to be ready to have a senior squad within five years.
“That’s part of a strategic plan and we’re working with Fury to get those outcomes.”
It is understood that while the Fury name is certain to be retained, the resurrected club’s logo and colours are undetermined and may differ from the club’s A-League incarnation.
Foster also said the federation believed other Queensland APL clubs will be in a position to bid for an A-League licence as well as Fury.
“We will have several clubs in Queensland who will mature and development very quickly," he said. " I will be disappointed if we don’t have clubs ready to take on an A-League licence by 2015.
“That’s when our window of opportunity, we believe, will open. We want to have some clubs, but certainly not all, where they can put in a compelling application.
“We’re not lacking in ambition, we’re not lacking in vision and we’re not lacking in direction - there is a very real purpose to what we are doing.”
Ben Mannion, Football Queensland’s Chief Operations Officer who has backed the state’s competitions restructure, hailed the mixed histories and ambitions of the new Queensland APL clubs.
“A club like Brisbane City has been through the NSL previously. You look at a club like the Brisbane Strikers, they’ve previously been an NSL club as well,” Mannion said.
“You also got to look at clubs like Redlands United, which is the biggest club in Queensland at the moment, and the likes of Sunshine Coast Fire, who have ambitions and have said publicly they’d like to apply for the A-League by 2015.”
Mannion also indicated that Palm Beach Sharks, who were selected ahead of a rival bid from Football Gold Coast, could provide a base for the possible return of A-League football to the Gold Coast.
“The selection panel looked at a number of areas throughout the criteria but we also, in conjunction with the panel, looked at which clubs did we think would be able to fit the model and by 2015 would be knocking on the door,” he said.
“Each of the clubs has their own advantages but we need to work with them in a number of areas.”
Among the successful applicants are newly created entities Moreton Bay United, borne out of Brisbane Premier League club Albany Creek Excelsior, and Western Pride, whose application was strongly supported by Ipswich City Council.
Another new club is Rockhampton-based Central Queensland FC, who replace current Queensland State League sides Capricorn Cougars, Bundaberg Spirit and Whitsunday Miners as the central Queensland coast region’s only representative in the new competition.
Football Queensland dismissed criticism that the Australian Premier League was merely a rebranding of the existing QSL.
“It’s important that we don’t try to compare because they are entirely different animals and, in some ways, answering to different masters,” Foster said.
“We now have not just 12 well-resourced and well-disciplined clubs. We’ve got 12 clubs that have a football plan, that have full-time football technical directors for each club.”
“This is the national programme. The criteria is set by FFA not by Football Queensland.”
“FFA has set a very rigid criteria that each licensed club has to adhere to. It extends to relationships with the community, relationships with the media, relationships with their local councils and facility providers.”
“The criteria requires that each club has full-time business managers, they have to have marketing persons on staff, they have to have medical officers available at the appropriate times.”
“We’ve not had that level of professionalism at state league level. So this is something very different and much bigger.”
“It is resourced, it is primed and it is ready to go.”
Football Queensland received 22 applications seeking inclusion in the new competition. They were assessed by a selection panel that included FFA Head of Game Development Matt Bulkeley as well as members of the state federation’s board.
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