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Association of Australian Football Clubs pushes for A-League second division and FFA restructure
Amid ongoing dissatisfaction over the Football Federation Australia's management of elite domestic football, the recently formed Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) is continuing to push for a restructure of the A-League.
With Football Federation Australia (FFA) delaying the expansion of its Congress until November – after the commencement of the next A-League season, the AAFC is moving to the next phase in its campaign to establish a national second division for the A-League and a promotion and relegation structure for football in Australia.
Since its formation in March, the AAFC has attracted more than 100 National Premier League clubs from around Australia, backing plans for an expanded Congress model that integrates all the member federation clubs to the A-League.
After FFA failed to get the required 75% support for its new Congress model in March, the governing body made a request to world football governing body FIFA to extend the deadline to the next annual congress meeting in November.
A-League clubs and the AAFC were not happy with this move.
After being excluded from the March reform process, the AAFC still expects to be invited to FFA’s next annual congress meeting according to AAFC steering committee Chairman Tom Kalas.
Kalas told Four Four Two magazine “whether it’s November or earlier we still request to be admitted to that congress to help guide the process along for football.
“And more importantly to represent the NPL clubs who constitute one of the most important stakeholders in Australian football.
“We are optimistic that the state federations, the FFA and the A-League clubs all understand the NPL tier is a key stakeholder in football and so on that basis I expect to get an invitation.”
Because FFA’s proposed new governance structure failed to get the support of Football NSW, Football Victoria and the A-League clubs, Kalas said there was no opportunity for AAFC to be added to the process.
Kalas explained “the fact that FFA is delaying the congress discussion is due to the lack of agreement with the A-League clubs and two state federations.
“I am disappointed the FFA has stalled this process. A restructure of football in Australia is inevitable.
“The AAFC believes that unless football integrates all its tiers and the code begins a national facilities strategy and building program, Australia will not develop a football culture in order to grow into a serious commercially powerful sport.
“Instead it will remain predominantly a kid’s participation sport.”
Before the March congress vote FIFA acknowledged the strong foundation of the new association and wrote to FFA saying they wanted the AAFC to be involved in discussions.
Kalas said FIFA’s support for the AAFC to be included in any congress discussions showed how key the NPL clubs are viewed by the world governing body in the Australian football landscape.
Currently the AAFC is preparing for its first AGM on 3rd July where new directors, drawn from the organisation's eight member federations, will be formally appointed.
Kalas added “this is the next step for the AAFC in achieving the objectives we set for ourselves in our inaugural national meeting in March.
“The NPL tier of football in this country manages significant football land and infrastructure. It has a plethora of highly credentialed administrators, it is a pivotal contributor to the fabric of the community and although it has been starved of ‘top/down’ funding, it has managed to survive and fight very hard to be relevant.”
The eight new directors will be John Thiele, Gino Marra, Christo Patsan, Rabieh Krayem, Amin Ayoubi, Victoria Morton, Dean Hennessey and Gary Marocchi.
Collectively, the NPL clubs have more than 30,000 registered players of semi-professional and amateur status and manage what they describe as "significant community assets" in the shape of football grounds and training centres.
The group is particularly keen to ensure its voice is heard when the FFA continues talks about changing its governance model so that more voices are heard in debating policy and strategy decisions for the game in this country.
Earlier this month, an AAFC statement advised “we are of the view that a second division is essential for the future, long-term development of the game, as well as for Australia to meet FIFA and AFC requirements.”
While the FFA has delayed dealing with a potential restructure of its elite domestic competitions, FIFA has warned that it could take the extreme option of putting in place a "normalising committee" to replace the FFA board and oversee the reform process if the FFA fails to reach consensus for a new Congress. So far, the FFA's efforts have resulted in stalemate.
FFA Chief Executive David Gallop appears confident, however, that this will not happen, advising “following extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders, we are looking to implement a two-phase approach to expansion of FFA's membership which will meet FIFA's request both in structure and timeframe.
"The first phase will be in place prior to our next AGM in November and the election due then."
"The second phase to consider further membership expansion is expected to commence in the new year once the new (A-League) operating model work is largely complete. We don't anticipate any intervention from FIFA will be necessary in November."
For more information on the AAFC go to www.australianfootballclubs.org.au
Top image: Football NSW NPL Division 1 action between Manly United and Sydney Olympic.
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