Sunshine Coast Fire captain Tyson Holmes.
Sunshine Coast Fire captain Tyson Holmes. Warren Lynam

Holmes keen for Premier League

SUNSHINE Coast captain Tyson Holmes believes the Fire should be among the first clubs welcomed into the proposed Australian Premier League.

The Fire confirmed last night that Football Federation Australia is eager to put all state-level leagues across the country under one banner, from as early as next year, to support and complement the A-League.

And the reigning Queensland State League champion has expressed its interest in applying for a licence to play in the Queensland conference of the APL, which would essentially replace the current QSL.

"I'd say teams like us and the Brisbane Strikers will be two front-runners coming out of Queensland," Holmes said.

"The success we've had is not going to harm our chances if the new league does go ahead. What we've achieved in the last four years would hold us in good stead if we were to apply." Indeed, the Fire boasts a winning record that would prove hard to ignore.

It has claimed the QSL premiership-championship double in three of the past four years and the Stockland Park club also boasts a solid foundation of financial stability and modern facilities.

For Holmes the prospect of playing in the anticipated APL is an exciting one.

"It's an idea that's been floating around for the last few years. We've heard a few things about it but it's still early. There's got to be a lot of research and structure that's got to go into it to make sure it actually works.

"It's where Australian football has to go but whether it's right for this point of time or whether they're ready for it - well, that's up to some pretty big people and obviously there will have to be some pretty big backing for it all.

"The idea is brilliant though and it could to provide more quality football across Australia," he said.

Holmes said there was potential for the champion clubs from each conference to play each other in a finals format, which would provide the Fire with an opportunity to impress on the national stage.

"The thought of playing other state champions, plus maybe A-League teams, is great. It will show state league sides where they are at. To be honest, at the moment, once you win the state league that's it.

"You don't go on and play the other champions. But this should bring that out. The level of competition with the best state sides playing off will be very high and it's something Australia needs."

Sunshine Coast Fire chairman Noel Woodall said last night the new-look competition, which is set to be unveiled by FFA boss Frank Lowy next week, could provide his club with the chance to impress the FFA and pursue its ultimate goal of holding an A-League licence.

"It gives us an opportunity to develop our identity on a national stage, which would help us with our longer-term ambitions," he said. "This opportunity now, after our first five years, is ideal for us to move to that next step and we can prove ourselves to the FFA and whoever else is watching."

Woodall said a promotion-relegation system involving the A-League and APL was unlikely at this stage but strong performances in the APL might help the club if the A-League looked at expansion.

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