Buckley stands firm on decision

Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley has defended the decision to schedule the Round 1 blockbuster between Queensland Roar and Hyundai A-League newcomers Gold Coast United at Suncorp Stadium.

Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley has defended the decision to schedule the Round 1 blockbuster between Queensland Roar and Hyundai A-League newcomers Gold Coast United at Suncorp Stadium.

It is believed the August 8 fixture was initially to be played at Skilled Park before a late change of plans saw the mouth-watering clash moved north.

Speaking at the official announcement of the draw for the 2009/10 season on Monday, Buckley insisted the decision to play the match in Roar territory was in the code's best interests, but conceded Gold Coast owner Clive Palmer holds a very different view.

"It'd be fair to say that Clive and I have had some fairly lengthy discussions about why that is (but) from time to time during this process you have to agree to disagree," he said.

"It's the most anticipated game for some years in the Hyundai A-League it's worthy of being played in a world class venue that can host 50,000 people."

"We think it'll be close to a sell-out crowd, we encourage all fans whether they're Queensland Roar fans or Gold Coast United fans to come out and support that match."

"What better way to kick off the season and kick off the start for Gold Coast United in front of a sell-out crowd and Suncorp Stadium."

Buckley rejected suggestions the decision was in any way influenced by the Roar's recent off-field difficulties, which culminated in the departure of CEO Lawrence Oudendyk last week.

"That's not the rationale of the decision at all, it's been made completely independently of what may occur with our (FFA's) position within Queensland Roar," he said.

"As I said it's about maximising our attendances it's about putting a hotly anticipated match in a world-class venue."

Meanwhile, Buckley declared the A-League is in a 'healthy' state four years on and reaffirmed FFA's commitment to expand the competition to 12 teams in time for the 2010/11 season.

"We've done a lot of detailed modelling of our own business and of the clubs' business over the course of the next four to five years and the strategy hasn't changed," he explained.

"We think and we're confident that our business can sustain expansion on the current plan that we have and we intend to keep going down that path."

"We're close to finalising an agreement with another team in Melbourne and we're looking to have a 12th license as well, so there's nothing within our business plan at the moment that would change ... that strategy."