Main football league in Australia looking to spread its wings.
Malaysia welcomed Australia’s plan to expand its domestic A-League into Asia but other potential partners were more guarded about the proposed plan.
Singapore said it wanted to hear more details, while an Indonesian official said the country had had no contact with Australia over the proposal.
The comments come after A-League head Damien de Bohun raised the prospect of games staged in Asia — and involving clubs based around the region — as early as the 2014-2015 season.
Australia is hosting the region’s biggest football tournament, the Asian Cup, involving the continent’s top national teams, in early 2015.
With countries like Singapore and Malaysia having their own domestic leagues, it was not clear how any prospective team would also be able to play in the A-League.
But Hamidin Mohamad Amin, secretary-general of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), was upbeat over the possible tie-up with the 10-team Australian league.
“It will be good for the development of football in Malaysia. We can send our team to Australia. As you know Australian football standard is high — World Cup standard,” he told AFP.
“Football is also an economic driver. Businesses can benefit and make money as more fans will travel across Asia to watch their team play,” Hamidin said.
“With top-quality teams playing, more fans can be expected to come to the stadiums to support their teams. It will fill up our stadiums and help promote the game further,” he added.
A Football Association of Singapore spokesperson said there had been talks but no decision about hosting A-League matches during the Asian Cup.
“FAS was contacted about the possibility of hosting A-League matches during the 2015 Asian Cup campaign in Australia, however we are waiting further details and we will make an announcement in due course,” the spokesperson said.
However, Indonesian Football Federation secretary-general Joko Driyono said he was not aware of any discussions with the A-league.
“We are trying to develop a strong domestic league — we already have our own clubs, so I don’t see how the A-league could expand here using its name,” he said.
“If they wanted to change the name and propose a regional league, we could talk about that.”
He added that Southeast Asian countries were more closely concentrated on the long-discussed Asean Super League, which he said may finally take off by 2016 or 2017.
“At the moment, Southeast Asian countries are focused on the Asean Super League as a regional competition,” he said.
“So if Australia wanted to be part of a regional league, it would be at least five or 10 years before we could really think about starting a new one.”