23/04/2024

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

With Bill Foley reported to be the front-runner for the Auckland expansion side in the A-Leagues, why would he be the right choice for the APL and fans?

“Playoffs in three; Cup in six.”

These were the words said by Bill Foley ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights’ entry into the NHL as an expansion team in 2017.

It was an optimistic goal by every stretch of the imagination, and yet, something magical happened in the desert which brought the playoffs in three portion of the prophecy well forward in year one of the Knights’ existence.

They would make the Stanley Cup final in year one after drafting a bunch of “misfits” who came together and went on an unbelievable run, falling short at the end to the Washington Capitals in a 4-1 series defeat.

From there, it was a first-round exit in year two which was so egregious it led to a rule change and the officials from that game seven were benched for the remainder of the playoffs.

Year three was impacted by COVID-19 and Vegas made the conference finals, falling short to Dallas, before falling to Montreal in the final four of the shortened, 56-game season.

Time was running out for “Cup in six,” especially after failing to make the playoffs in year five in an injury-riddled season.

After a rough start to the season, Vegas found its groove, going on to be the one seed in the Western Conference, and demolishing every team in its path en route to lifting the Stanley Cup and fulfilling the Cup in six prophecy.

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How is all this relevant to the A-Leagues and the expansion into Auckland?

Bill Foley was revealed to be the front-runner to take ownership of the Auckland franchise when expansion takes place.

Foley has high expectations of all his sports teams and business interests, through a mantra of “Always Advance, Never Retreat”, and puts everything he can in place to ensure their success.

He already has found the winning formula to success with an expansion side, and the principles behind that can be transferred across sports.

In a league that is salary-capped, Foley has shown a desire to spend to the cap for the Golden Knights and is not afraid to sign off on George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon spending over it when required to ensure success, such as when a player goes on Long-Term Injured Reserve.

If Foley keeps true to form, we would see the same apply to an A-Leagues club.

Marquees and designated players would be just part of the equation for the side en route to success.

We would see facility investments, strong roster building, and ever-present connections with other football clubs around the world, as Foley owns Bournemouth and has a stake in FC Lorient. 

If Foley takes ownership, this should not be seen as a feeder club of any sort.

Foley expects success, and he should put everything in place required for that to happen.

In the A-Leagues, we have seen teams come and go, including the New Zealand Knights in Auckland.

We have seen club ownership chop and change both with secrecy and massive noise and in some cases those owners expressing an inability, or lack of desire, to spend money, frustrating fans who just want their team to challenge for finals.

An owner like Bill Foley would be seen as a sign of relief compared to the likes of a Martin Lee, and a much-needed change in the right direction.

Foley’s affinity for the Knights name with the Vegas Golden Knights, Henderson Silver Knights, Vegas Knight Hawks, and the parent company of those teams being the Black Knight Football and Entertainment Group could even see the return of the New Zealand Knights.

How good would that be?

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