Watch latest New Zealand breaking news headlines online
A new football club is set to join the A-Leagues after the owner of AFC Bournemouth and the Vegas Golden Knights ice hockey team , Bill Foley, secured a licence for a club based in Auckland, New Zealand.
The creation of the Auckland club – the second in New Zealand after Wellington Phoenix – means the A-League Men competition will expand to 13 teams next year, with the club joining the A-League Women in 2025-26.
Foley said it was “an honour” to bring an elite 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,” he said in a statement. “It’s a special place and an area that I know will embrace this team.”
The 78-year-old American owns the National Hockey League expansion side the Golden Knights, which made the Stanley Cup finals in their first season in 2017-18 and won the trophy for the first time this year.
He also owns Black Knight Football Club, a football investment entity that owns Bournemouth in the English Premier League and has a large stage in FC Lorient in France’s Ligue 1.
Foley has a range of investments in fields including insurance, software and wine. Foley Wines owns an array of brands in New Zealand and its website claims it aspires to be the country’s “most revered wine group through the ownership of iconic wineries in the country’s most acclaimed regions”.
The chair of the Australian Professional Leagues, Stephen Conroy, said he was delighted to welcome Foley into the competition.
“In Bill Foley we have a proven global sports investor and operator with a track record of building deep roots in the community, a passion for football, and a longstanding business and personal relationship with New Zealand,” he said.
The chief executive of New Zealand Football, Andrew Pragnell, said it was a “step-change moment” for the sport.