CHERRIES chairman Bill Foley will have a top-flight side in Auckland from next year, after he was granted a licence to join the A-League.

Foley, who already has business interest in the area in the wine industry, is set to expand his football portfolio into New Zealand.

The 78-year-old, whose Vegas Golden Knights won the 2023 Stanley Cup, purchased Cherries last year and has also bought a stake in French outfit FC Lorient. The American is too understood to be looking at buying part of Scottish Premiership Hibernian.

Auckland will become the second men’s A-League club from New Zealand, joining Wellington Phoenix, as the division expands to 13 teams in 2024-25.

They will also create a team to join the Women’s A-League from the 2025-26 campaign.

Upon the licence being granted, Foley said: “It’s an honour to bring a top football 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.

“It’s a special place and an area that I know will embrace this team.”

James Johnson, chief executive of Football Australia, added: “We are pleased to welcome Bill Foley’s involvement with the Auckland expansion club.

“His investment is an important step in the evolution of the A-Leagues, combining our regional interests with an international perspective.

“Bill’s experience in sports and his focus on community engagement are valuable as we look forward to the club’s debut in the A-Leagues, offering a fresh and engaging approach for our fans and players.”

Chief executive of New Zealand football, Andrew Pagnell, said: “The expansion of the A-Leagues into Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and the league becoming truly Australasian, is a step change moment in the development of football in New Zealand.

“This is an exciting day and we welcome Bill Foley to the wider football system in this country.

“Bill has seen the potential of Auckland as a football city and is here for the long haul to help grow and develop the sport.”

The club’s official name is still to be revealed.