Football Federation Australia (FFA) has released a discussion paper to work towards the establishment of a National Second Division.
FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said the white paper was prepared by the National Second Division Working Group, to consider the key principles that should underpin a second-tier competition for football in Australia.
“The development of a blueprint for a National Second Division which all stakeholders are aligned with is critical to better connect the various levels and pathways throughout the Australian football ecosystem.
“There is general consensus between the stakeholders involved in this process, the Association of Australian Football Clubs, Professional Footballers Australia, Member Federations and FFA that a sustainable National Second Division would be a significant step forward for football,” he said.
Mr Nikou said the purpose of the white paper is to provide a well-researched way forward.
“It is not intended to be definitive on the structure and operational aspects of any National Second Division, but rather to reflect the discussions that have taken place and consolidate a vast body of work that has already been done,” he said.
Amongst the key recommendations of the white paper are:
- Commencement of a National Second Division in 2021/22 that will be financially sustainable and provide professional pathways for more Australian players
- Identify a roadmap for the delivery of the National Second Division, starting with financial sustainability, including the securing of commercial and broadcast arrangements as well as start-up capital
- Establish a steering committee comprising the FFA Chair, two Member Federations, two representatives of the AAFC, one from the PFA and a representative from one Hyundai A-League Club to act on the recommendations and considerations in the white paper
FFA Director Remo Nogarotto, who led the working group, said the paper is intended to be read in the light of the recommendations of the New Leagues Working Group and to complement FFA’s long term strategic vision to widen and deepen pathways for both clubs, coaches, referees and players.
“Once established, we believe a National Second Division would provide an opportunity for football to broaden its reach to be a truly national game. It also has the potential to build a bridge between state-based National Premier Leagues and the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League and heal some divisions that have held the game back.
“Over the last 15 years, football has made great progress, however, there remain strong elements within our sport that feel marginalised. For Australian football to reach its potential, all elements of the game must pull in a single direction,” he said.
Mr Nogarotto said a National Second Division would help develop pathways and increase the talent pool.
“For the top of the pyramid to be successful internationally, its professional footprint needs to grow and providing a pathway for Australian players is vitally important to enable national teams of the future to be successful.
He said one of the most challenging elements of this next phase of growth in establishing the National Second Division will be the issue of promotion and relegation.
“If a second-tier competition in the purist form is the objective - one that not only opens up a new pathway for talented footballers but also differentiates our game from other football codes - then a system of promotion and relegation should be considered over the longer term,” he said.
The steering committee will report back to the FFA board by the end of November 2019, with a view to opening Expressions of Interest in the first half of 2020.