EXCLUSIVE: Two new National Youth League clubs in Queensland are set to be created under Football Federation Australia's National Competition Review, sparking hopes of a revival for North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United.
The review highlighted the limited elite player pathway options in Queensland following the closure of the two A-League clubs over the last 18 months.
The FFA are now looking at a North Queensland side and a "third Queensland" side to join the NYL and create opportunities for talented youngsters to progress towards a professional career.
Gold Coast successfully fielded a youth team, winning the Championship twice in their short existence, but Fury never put an NYL side together in their two seasons.
However the FFA could choose to avoid resurrecting the bitter memories created by Fury's financial collapse and Gold Coast's acrimonious axeing over the fall-out with owner Clive Palmer.
Instead FFA Executive Manager Mark Falvo revealed they were also looking at the possibility of simply creating new sides to distance them from the past.
But he stressed they had yet to set a timetable for the project, and said any National Youth League expansion would be subject to a cost-benefit analysis.
The revelations came during a presentation to prospective Queensland Australian Premier League clubs where the FFA said creating an easily identifiable elite player pathways is one of their current top priorities.
However they are concerned that the introduction of two more Queensland teams to the National Youth League will create a pathway dead end without senior clubs to support the NYL sides.
Football Queensland CEO Geoff Foster backed a move towards more Queensland teams in the National Youth League, regardless of the name of the clubs.
“The inclusion of a Northern National Youth League team is critical to the success of the program’s stated ambition of providing a seamless and meaningful pathway for our elite youth,” Foster said.
“We continue to make representations to FFA that a Northern A-League licence is essential to a truly national league and we see the reinstatement of a youth league presence as a critical step to the reinstatement of a full licence.”
The FFA have ruled out further A-League expansion until 2015, but Foster added: “Queensland wants to be knocking on the door at the first opportunity.”
Keeping the Fury and United brands alive in the National Youth League was welcomed by both clubs' fans desperate to maintain links with their axed clubs.
Marcus Ellison, a prominent member of the North Queensland Fury’s F-Troop, said their supporter group would be delighted by the return of the Fury brand - or any other name.
“There’s a broad appeal with the Fury brand beyond North Queensland and I think it would get quite a lot of support," he said. "If it started up again I think people would get on board wholeheartedly.
“From my point of view, the fact they are talking about is a great. We definitely need that link between the grass roots and a national league.
“Whether it’s Fury or another entity that has aspirations to play at a higher level, they will get the bulk of support in the region.”
Save GCU's Nathan Mulhearn felt the same way about his former club.
“We were told by the FFA when GCU were wound up that they still wanted a youth team in the region,” Mulhearn said.
“Why would the FFA need to hold on to the brand? We’d be happy to work with their licensing agreements if they wanted to reignite the brand.
“We would look at building a community ownership model, this could involve Football Gold Coast and other investors, building from the bottom up this time around, and not from the top down as happened before.
“There is already brand equity, a Facebook page with 6000 fans and a twitter account with 2000 followers, so why start again with a new name?”
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