Kelly McCrimmon (L), Bill Foley (C), and George McPhee (R), get ready to hoist the Stanley Cup after the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers. Photo Credit: Vegas Golden Knights/Twitter

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) announced on Wednesday that its preferred bidder for an Auckland A-Leagues expansion team would be Bill Foley.

The bid incorporates both an A-League Men and A-League Women team.

Foley currently has a stake in multiple football teams, most notably AFC Bournemouth, where he owns 100 per cent of the team.

He also owns the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL, who entered the league in 2017 and won the Stanley Cup in 2023, with the news coming on the day the Golden Knights start the 2023/24 season as defending champions.

A-Leagues commissioner Nick Garcia talked about the importance of announcing Foley as the preferred bidder.

“The awarding of preferred bidder status is an important step towards new professional women’s and men’s teams in Auckland,” Garcia said.

“Bill Foley and Black Knight Football Club are committed sports investors and bring direct elite football experience via their investment in AFC Bournemouth in the English Premier League and other European clubs.

“Importantly, Bill is passionate about Auckland and has a long-term relationship with New Zealand through his business interests. 

“Auckland has been the largest city in Australia and New Zealand without a professional football team, despite football being the most popular team participation sport nationally in New Zealand. We look forward to building on the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, providing football fans in Auckland with their new home team.”

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Bill Foley has a history of businesses in New Zealand, with Foley Wines being the most notable, and as such is no stranger to the local landscape.

Foley spoke about his relationship with the country.

“My family and I have a genuine appreciation and love for New Zealand,” he said.

“We will look to strengthen this connection even further by acquiring an A-Leagues expansion licence in Auckland, which will allow us to establish both a men’s and women’s club in the city.

“Black Knight Football Club operates with a commitment to excellence on and off the pitch. Our goal will be to build a winning organisation while simultaneously serving the community and growing the sport – and passion for the sport – at all levels.

“We are extremely excited to reach this stage in the process and look forward to the next steps.”

The APL also announced in its release that licence approval is subject to successful completion of the necessary approval processes by the APL and regulatory processes by Football Australia.

Once approved by Football Australia, it will work with its regional governing body, the Asian Football Confederation, and partners Oceania Football Confederation, New Zealand Football for endorsement.

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