Bournemouth owner confirmed as preferred bidder for A-Leagues Licence in Auckland

New club, if approved, would include both Isuzu UTE A-League Men and Liberty A-League Women’s teams in season 2024-25.

The expansion of the A-Leagues into Auckland has taken a significant step forward with the owner of Premier League side AFC Bournemouth made “preferred bidder” to add a new club for next season.

Bill Foley, who took control of Bournemouth last year and owns clubs around the world, has moved into pole position to be granted the A-Leagues expansion licence in the Auckland market, incorporating both an Isuzu UTE A-League Men and a Liberty A-League Women’s team from season 2024-25.

Foley is a US-based owner of multiple sports teams as the general partner of Black Knight Football Club, which owns 100% of AFC Bournemouth of the Premier League and a significant minority ownership interest in FC Lorient of France’s Ligue 1. 

Foley also owns other sports and entertainment assets including the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, which was an expansion team in 2017 and won the Stanley Cup in 2023. 

Foley also owns multiple wine and hospitality businesses in New Zealand and oversees multiple public companies in the US.

Nick Garcia, Commissioner of the A-Leagues, said: “The awarding of Preferred Bidder Status is an important forward step towards new professional women’s and men’s teams in Auckland.

“Bill Foley and Black Knight Football Club are committed sports investors and bring direct elite football experience via their investment in AFC Bournemouth in the English Premier League and other European clubs. Importantly, Bill is passionate about Auckland and has a long-term relationship with New Zealand through his business interests.

“Auckland has been the largest city in Australia and New Zealand without a professional football team, despite football being the most popular team participation sport nationally in New Zealand. We look forward to building on the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, providing football fans in Auckland with their new home team.”

Licence approval is subject to successful completion of the necessary regulatory processes and approvals to be undertaken by the Australian Professional Leagues and Football Australia.  The new club will also require endorsement from the Asian Football Confederation, the Oceania Football Confederation and New Zealand Football.

Bill Foley said: “My family and I have a genuine appreciation and love for New Zealand. We will look to strengthen this connection even further by acquiring an A-Leagues expansion license in Auckland, which will allow us to establish both a men’s and women’s club in the city.

“Black Knight Football Club operates with a commitment to excellence on and off the pitch. Our goal will be to build a winning organization while simultaneously serving the community and growing the sport – and passion for the sport – at all levels. We are extremely excited to reach this stage in the process and look forward to the next steps.”