PRIME Minister Julia Gillard today confirmed a new $8million Government investment into football in Western Sydney to fast track the new West Sydney club into the A-League.
In a joint press conference at Football NSW's headquarters in Glenwood, Gillard and FFA CEO Ben Buckley confirmed the new team would start in the A-League next season.
"From next season, West Sydney, the heartland for football in Australia, will be represented in the A-League," said Buckley.
The FFA boss was at pains to stress the new team will be aiming to win over the hearts and minds of locals by focusing strongly on community engagement in the coming months.
"It has taken time, but I believe the time is now right," he said. "The new club will have at its very core a focus on community engagement.
"We intend to build a model that will be driven by the passion of the football people of Sydney's west.
"In partnership with Football NSW, we will make sure the club is integrated into community football, school, indigenous programmes and the elite player pathway.
"The community will have a say in the culture, colours, name and logo of the new entity and we will explore a model that would allow for community ownership.
"This represents a major investment by FFA in the future of the game and aligns with FFA’s Strategic Plan endorsed by the recent Smith Review.”
The PM said the new investment would be targetted at improving the infrastructure for the sport in the West and supporting the women's game, with $1m set aside for that alone.
Another $3 million will be spent redeveloping the Football NSW HQ, which will see it likely become the training base for the new West Sydney side.
The remainder will be spent from grassroots up to elite level.
"This has long been a dream for Western Sydney, " said Gillard. "This is going to become an important place for the future of Sydney and for the future of football.
"We want to see our kids out in the sunshine playing football. This is a big win for Western Sydney and a big win for football."
Buckley welcomed the investment into all levels of the sport, but especially the women's game, adding: "The W-League is a vitally important competition."
And he hailed the arrival at last of a new Sydney side as a turning point for the A-League nationally.
He added: “I know that the prospect of having a fierce rival in Sydney and all the passion of a derby game will excite everyone associated with Sydney FC."