Bournemouth’s U.S. owner launches Auckland FC

The A-League’s new expansion side will be known simply as Auckland FC, donning an “electric blue” and black kit and with the nickname of the Black Knights.

When the club join in the A-League Men 2024-25 season, and the A-League Women the year after, they’ll do so with a kit resembling that of iconic Italian club Internazionale: black and blue vertical stripes.

Auckland FC was chosen from a shortlist revealed by the NZ Herald, including the Auckland Volcanoes and Black Knights FC.

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The club was granted entry into the league last November, when American billionaire businessman Bill Foley was announced as owner.

Foley owns several clubs across a number of sports, including AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League and the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL. Several of Foley’s teams are branded as “Knights,” a reference to the nickname of U.S. military academy West Point. The club said a “wide-ranging consultation” process landed on Auckland FC as the name, with the Black Knights to be the club’s nickname as was Foley’s preference.

The name also recalls the ill-fated New Zealand Knights, wooden spooners in the first two seasons of the A-League before folding in 2007.

The announcements show a side gradually coming together in New Zealand’s biggest city, but also point to the slow progress setting up a men’s club in the Australian capital.

Last year, Australian Premier Leagues chiefs announced Auckland and Canberra as their preferred expansion locations for the 2024-25 campaign. In January, Australian Premier Leagues boss Nick Garcia said he was “very positive” about “advanced discussions” with a Canberra men’s side to join the league.

No further announcements have been forthcoming, growing doubts as to whether they will actually kick off in October. The uncertainty is affecting the Canberra United women’s side, which has star players threatening to walk away should their futures not be made clear.

While the Auckland side is ticking off milestones ahead of round one, they are also showing that founding a professional men’s side is not simple.

In November, Foley said the club would announce a football director within days, a coach within a fortnight and players from January. The football director, Terry McFlynn, took a fortnight, the coach, Steve Corica, took six weeks, and players are yet to be announced. On Thursday, Corica pushed out the timeframe for player announcements even further, saying it will happen “from June.”

“I’m looking forward to helping build the club from the ground up, foster a strong attacking team known for their entertaining style of football, and attract some of the best talent to grow with the club,” he said.

The club will play home games at Mount Smart Stadium, which the Warriors NRL side call home. There are also issues finding a training base, according to the NZ Herald, suggesting it would be too hard to get training time at that stadium.

Still, Foley has made clear his high level of ambition for the team.

“We will be successful. We’re not in this to finish bottom,” he told AAP in November.

The name of Auckland FC runs the risk of some confusion with perennial domestic champions Auckland City FC, who play in navy blue.

Auckland City FC have won 10 straight titles — until last year, when they finished second to Wellington Olympic — representing Oceania at several FIFA World Club Cups.