FFA targets Asia in bid to expand game

TAKING the game to Asia is a key pillar in Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop's plan for growing the game to become the biggest and most popular in the country.

Speaking at the State of the Game address in Sydney, Gallop unveiled an ambitious National Plan for Football, ahead of what he believes would be the biggest summer the round-ball game has had in Australia.

Gallop said the A-League was set to pass an aggregate audience of two million for the first time ever, while the female game was strong, making up 20% of the total participation base.

The Asian Cup in January will provide the icing on the cake to what is set to be a bumper 2014-15 season.

"This summer our nation will host the AFC Asian Cup - the biggest event we've seen since the 2000 Olympic Games," Gallop said.

"Asian audiences of up to 1.3 billion will see Australia on show.

"This is nothing new. Our national teams and A-League clubs have been building links with Asia for years.

"We're now seeing Asian investment driven by football.

"The $12 million takeover of Melbourne City by Abu Dhabi interests, the owners of Manchester City, is a snapshot of the future."

The National Plan will cover all facets of football, including elite player and coach development, national teams, community football, facilities development, national competitions, fan connections and commercial revenues.

"The first phase of the National Plan is to listen to the game's key stakeholders at all levels," Gallop said.

"We'll consult individual participants and fans via an online portal that will capture the voice of the people.

"The outcome of this National Plan will be a road map to guide all key stakeholders in the game.

"To achieve that, we need to align all the key stakeholders.

"There's no time to waste - we aim to publish the National Plan at the conclusion of the Asian Cup."

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