Asia

Foley lands A-League expansion franchise for Auckland

Featured image credit: Auckland Stadiums

Featured image credit: Auckland Stadiums

Football’s Australian Professional Leagues (APL) has announced the award of a full A-Leagues licence to US businessman Bill Foley, with the teams to be based in Auckland, New Zealand.

The A-League Men’s team will join in the 2024-25 season, while the A-League Women’s team will join the following year. Currently, the A-League competitions have one New Zealand-based team in the shape of Wellington Phoenix.

Foley is the founder and owner of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and also founded Black Knight Football Club, which owns Premier League team AFC Bournemouth and has a significant investment in Ligue 1 outfit FC Lorient.

New Zealander Nick Becker has been appointed chief executive of the Auckland club. The official name of the club will be announced at a later date.

Foley said: “It’s an honour to bring a top football club to Auckland. Building a championship team from expansion has been my most exhilarating professional achievement, and I aim to do the same for the fans of New Zealand and particularly the community on the north island. It’s a special place and an area that I know will embrace this team.”

James Johnson, chief executive of Football Australia, added: “We are pleased to welcome Bill Foley’s involvement with the Auckland expansion club. His investment is an important step in the evolution of the A-Leagues, combining our regional interests with an international perspective.

“Bill’s experience in sports and his focus on community engagement are valuable as we look forward to the club’s debut in the A-Leagues, offering a fresh and engaging approach for our fans and players.”

It has not been confirmed where the new club will play its home games, but Foley told New Zealand news outlet Stuff that he would be interested in being part of discussions for a potential new stadium in Auckland.

Last month, it emerged that eight proposals had been put forward for a major stadium development project in the city. One proposal centres on a new venue led by Auckland Waterfront Consortium and another focuses on a revamp of the existing Eden Park, while six “relative newcomers” are also said to be in the frame.

“It’s going to take some time,” Foley told Stuff. “It’s not going to happen overnight. But we have a lot of ideas.”

Stuff’s report added that Auckland’s Go Media Stadium Mt Smart (pictured) will likely serve as the home for the A-League Men team during its first season. The stadium has a capacity of 30,000 and is primarily used to host rugby union and rugby league games.