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Association of Australian Football Clubs reveals plans for national second division competition

Association of Australian Football Clubs reveals plans for national second division competition
October 27, 2017

A blueprint for the introduction of a national second tier football competition for men and women has been released by the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC).

Dubbed ‘The Championship’, AAFC proposes that the competition be aligned with the A-League season commencing in 2019/20, with promotion and relegation to be phased in over five seasons starting in 2024.

AAFC Chairman Rabieh Krayem said that the AAFC believes a national second division is necessary for three reasons, advising “first, we need it from a football perspective. The best way to improve the quality of football and our international competitiveness is to give young players more, and higher standard, game time.

“Second, as a football nation, we’re not fulfilling the membership requirements of either FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) by not having promotion and relegation in place. A national second division is a pre-requisite of that.

“Third, we believe it’s necessary to have this extra level of national competition in place to help bring life back into the football ‘market’, increase interest and attract investment.”

The 12 to 16 clubs expected to participating in the competition will be required to have a home stadium with capacity for 3,000 people as well as a capacity to meet an annual budget of $2.5 million, which includes an annual license fee of $150,000.

Clubs would operate under a $1 million salary cap for two squads (men and women) in a squad size limited to a maximum of 20. At least half of the players in each squad must be 25 or younger.

Placing a heavy emphasis on promoting young, local talent the AAFC will require that at least half of the 20-person squad to be aged 25 or under, with a maximum of two ‘visa players’ drawn from either the Asian or Oceania football confederations.

AAFC also intends seeking agreement from the AFC for the winner of The Championship to be granted a place in the Asian Champions League.

Krayem said the AAFC will call for expressions of interest from clubs or consortia interested in participating in The Championship in December, with bids to close in May next year.

The bids will be independently assessed by Nous Group*, with successful bids announced in October 2018.

Krayem added “we’re delighted to have Nous Group on board as an independent arbiter in shaping and assessing the composition of The Championship.

“We want this to be a competitive process, but also one where the football community can be confident that it is fair, evidence-based and decided on merit.

“Football has made giant strides in the past 15 years or so, particularly in participation, but a vital factor for the growth, success and sustainability is the quality and competitiveness of the football on offer.

“This isn’t about a breakaway organisation or league. We want to work with all stakeholders to help achieve the Whole of Football Plan and to help realise the goal of being the biggest and most successful sport in the country.

“The Championship will contribute to making the football ecosystem bigger and better for everyone, and lay the groundwork for helping players, clubs and the code reach its extraordinary potential.”

The blueprint is the result of more than 200 hours of research, planning and meetings around the country.

In response to the AAFC proposal, Football Federation Australia (FFA) released a statement saying it had “yet to have been engaged by the organisation about their proposal”.

FFA Chief Executive David Gallop questioned the viability of the AAFC blueprint, stating “we well recognise the important pathway contribution and the significant history of many of our NPL clubs and will happily consider any viable plans that come through our door.

“It is great for people in the game to have aspirations and because of the things that happen globally in football those aspirations are often very big.

“However aspirations have to be tested against the reality of the local landscape and that unfortunately comes back to available funding and the impact on all the other parts of the game.”

Gallop said any second division national competition would need to be sanctioned by FFA, Member Federations would need to be across the proposal and it would need broad support, including from Hyundai A-League clubs, to succeed.

He added that the new league would have to be financially viable and sustainable, concluding “FFA is working on various strategies to increase the commercial returns from football but at present all available funding is committed the Hyundai A-League/Westfield W-League, grassroots, player development and national teams.

“It is no secret that most of those areas are themselves crying out for more money.”

For further information on The Championship proposal go to www.thechampionship.com.au

Images: Lakeside Stadium, home of likely The Championship participants South Melbourne FC (top); Rabieh Krayem (middle) and Football NSW NPL 1 2017 Champions Manly United (below).

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