ACT Government guarantees Canberra United’s next season

The future of A-League women’s soccer club Canberra United Football Club has been in jeopardy, but the ACT Government has guaranteed the club’s future for at least the next year.

Canberra United, founded in 2008, was an inaugural member of the A-League Women, the top-division women’s soccer league in Australia. However, Capital Football, the soccer governing body for the ACT, revealed last month it could not guarantee the club would be in the ALW next season. CEO Samantha Farrow said that “the rising cost of running an A-league side has had a significant impact on our bottom line”; the season has increased from 12 games in 2020/21 to 22 games this season, and the team is running at a loss.

Nearly 5,700 people signed a petition to save and grow the team, and donated $60,000. ACT Greens MLA Laura Nuttall tabled the petition in the ACT Legislative Assembly last week. Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry, Minister for Sport & Recreation and for Women, said she was working hard with stakeholders to find a way to ensure the future of Canberra United and provide more short- and medium-term certainty for its players. She would move as quickly as she can to respond to the petition; as a token of their goodwill, the Labor caucus signed a petition signifying its support for the team. The ACT Government had offered to pay half the existing funding agreement in advance to help with upfront running costs.

Following a meeting today to discuss a way forward for Canberra United, Ms Berry offered Capital Football $200,000 to support Canberra United’s operational budget for the 2024-25 season. The government will also pay $250,000 partnership funding early, on the proviso that Capital Football secures additional investment to minimise an expected financial loss in managing the team.

“This offer is in recognition of the ACT Government’s commitment to one of Canberra’s most beloved teams,” Ms Berry said. “We acknowledge the role that Canberra United plays in inspiring women and girls in our community. You can’t be what you can’t see.”

In return, Ms Berry said, the ACT Government is seeking additional community engagement activities taking advantage of the profile of women’s football following the Matilda’s World Cup success; and additional sponsorship and signage opportunities and access to profile players to promote Canberra.

“Like many other fans, I was devastated when I heard the Canberra United Football Club women’s team was at risk due to financial challenges,” Ms Berry said.

“I’ve been meeting with Capital Football, potential investors, the A-League and listening to fans ever since, to work on a solution together. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge the dedication and loyalty of the Save Canberra United group.

“I was thrilled to see so many supporters step up and donate to the crowd funding appeal. This vital support shows how much Canberrans love their team.”

We understand that the Canberra Liberals were going to make a funding commitment for Canberra United this week.

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