Sport

Now the A-League has Ipswich as its goal

SOCCER MAGIC: Brisbane Roar players sign autographs for Ipswich fans before a match at the North Ipswich Reserve last year.
SOCCER MAGIC: Brisbane Roar players sign autographs for Ipswich fans before a match at the North Ipswich Reserve last year. Rob Williams

IPSWICH is set to get an A-League team with Mayor Paul Pisasale promising to build a 15,000-plus seat stadium at North Ipswich Reserve to secure the licence.

The QT has learned that Football Federation Australia (FFA) wants to replicate the recent success of the Western Sydney Wanderers in the western corridor of Brisbane, with Ipswich identified as the prime location for a side when the A-League expands.

The development follows hot on the heels of the announcement that the Brisbane Lions will build a $60 million plus elite training and administration base in Springfield.

Ipswich's leading soccer side is the Western Pride, which plays in the National Premier League (NPL), and it stands to be front and centre of any expansion plans due to its professionalism on and off the field.

Western Pride general manager Pat Boyle told The QT yesterday that the FFA had Ipswich in its sights.

"Football Australia have identified this area for a potential A-League side because of its projected growth," he said.

"For the Western Pride it would be outstanding. It is something we and Football Ipswich are aspiring to and hopefully achieve one day.

"I don't see it being in the next 18 months, but the way the Western Pride is achieving its goals we could potentially look at something in three years. But we are certainly not limiting ourselves. Should the FFA come to us sooner and say, 'Hey guys, we've got an A-League licence, would you be interested?', then we'd take that with open arms.

"The support we have received from Paul Pisasale and the council collectively in the NPL is second to none and I know a lot of clubs are envious of that relationship and how supportive they are.

"If there is ever an opportunity to obtain an A-League licence the first person I would see is Paul Pisasale to see how we can house that in this region."

Cr Pisasale said he would back Mr Boyle and the Western Pride to the hilt.

"We got the money from the federal government for the Lions and we will get the funding to make sure we take the North Ipswich Reserve to the standard needed for the A-League," Cr Pisasale said

"With the necessary upgrades we could fit 15,000 to 20,000 in there easy. It is the perfect location."

Cr Pisasale said FFA CEO David Gallop understood the potential of Ipswich and the western corridor.

It was Gallop, in his former role as NRL CEO, who travelled to Ipswich in 2010 and said the region deserved an NRL side. Mr Gallop was unavailable for comment last night, but in 2010 he said some significant words for The QT.

"For the strength of the game we need a team in that Ipswich area west of Brisbane," Gallop said.

"The corridor around Ipswich is the fastest growing region in Australia and we need to be a part of it. We need two teams in Brisbane and having a presence in the Ipswich region is a must for our game's future."

He was speaking about the NRL, but those words equally apply to the A-League.

"David Gallop was the first person to say that sporting codes must go where the fish are biting," Cr Pisasale said.

"He understands the western corridor is where the growth is happening. I took him for a tour of Ipswich, and he looked at our figures, and he was blown away. But now our growth is three times that. This is the right time for the A-League to be here and to invest here."

Blair MP Shayne Neumann said he would seek federal funding should an A-League licence become a reality for Ipswich.

Topics:  a-league football brisbane lions football federation australia mayor paul pisasale national premier league western pride football club



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