24/04/2024

Michelle Heyman during warm-ups at the end of the ground she would score the milestone goal at Leichhardt Oval during Unite Round. Photo Credit: Poletti/The Inner Sanctum

Capital Football CEO Samantha Farrow said in a statement on Tuesday that the member federation wants Canberra United to continue playing in the Liberty A-League in season 2024/2025 and beyond.  

The statement comes following speculation about the future of Canberra United with discussions around an A-League Men expansion into the region, with the future of the A-League Women side having been unclear as a result.

All current A-Leagues sides are privately owned, or being supported by other clubs in the case of the Newcastle Jets, with Capital Football being the only member federation running an A-Leagues club.

“Capital Football has invested over $2.5 million in Canberra United across the past two seasons, as well as doubling the Club’s annual budget since 2020/2021,” the statement said.

“Questioning Capital Football and its Board’s commitment to women’s football is simply unfair and unwarranted. 

“The Canberra United season now comprises 22 games, as opposed to 12 games in 2020/2021, and 14 games in 2021/2022.

“This has considerably raised the cost of running a full-time professional side and has put significant pressure on our financial standing as evidenced by the reported deficit in 2022, with another deficit anticipated for 2023.”

The statement also said that Capital Football is exploring all avenues to ensure the side can take to the field for season 17 of the A-League Women competition (previously known as the W-League), seeking new sources of investment having exhausted traditional revenue and funding streams.

“The fact is the men’s A-League bid is a key factor in a sustainable elite level presence in the region. We are aware developments are at a critical stage and conscious that players, coaches, and supporters want clarity, as do we.

“I can assure all involved, our intention is to see Canberra United on the pitch for Season 17, subject to improved investment.   

“We are working alongside the Canberra A-League bid, the APL, and the ACT Government to explore additional opportunities.  [The] ACT Government have offered a 50% advance payment of our existing funding agreement to assist with the upfront running costs of Canberra United.” 

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Talks of the expansion of an A-League Men side into the Australian capital have been ongoing for quite some time, with phrases like “imminently” and “a couple of weeks away” used to describe the progress of an announcement.

It has been unclear how the existing Canberra United side would fit into the A-League Men expansion.

As an inaugural side in the A-League Women, the club has a history of success having won the Championship twice (2011-12, 2014) and Premiership three times (2011-12, 2013/14, 2016-17).

There have also been a number of Matildas stars who have passed through the doors of Canberra United, with Lydia Williams, Ellie Brush, and Ashleigh Sykes and most notably Michelle Heyman having spent time at the club.

Heyman has been synonymous with Canberra United throughout the majority of its existence, and her form over the last two seasons has seen her earn her way back into the national team.

It also has a strong core of future talent that could help the side continue to flourish into the future, with Young Matildas stars Tegan Bertolissio, Sasha Grove, and Chloe Lincoln in the squad, as well as Vesna Milivojevic, although she has been injured and out of action since December, 2023.

With the future of the side still seemingly unclear, it is unknown how many of those players may seek to play elsewhere next season, including Heyman who has already left Canberra United previously, but eventually returned.

The Capital Football board did meet on Monday night as part of its regular meeting schedule and not as an emergency meeting.

“We appreciate the passion of the Canberra United community and our loyal fanbase.

“We all want a successful and elite club representing our region and giving our players something to aspire to, but that support needs to be replicated financially to sustain and grow our presence on a national stage. ” 

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