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Hopes For National Second Division Of Football In 2022

T
he Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) has released the latest progress report on its plans to introduce a national second division of football in Australia by late 2022.

Currently in Australia, underneath the A-League, Australia has eight separate National Premier Leagues with a total of 222 clubs.

The AAFC plans to introduce a national second division with an initial 12 clubs from across NPL1, assuming the clubs meet specific criteria including the size of their facilities, coaching staff with A-license accreditation and a comprehensive women’s football program.

The latest stage of progress reports has also indicated the AAFC believes the second-tier men’s model will reach its maturity by 2028, reaching the goals of a second-division side winning the FFA Cup, qualifying for the Asian Champion League, and the majority of clubs playing out of boutique stadiums with a streaming service that generates sustainable revenue.

Among the plans are a 2025 start date for a national second division for women, with the men’s program expected to expand to 16 teams with a promotion/relegation structure introduced by 2025.

AAFC chairman, Nick Galatas, said the National Premier League football system has been limited and disconnected from reaching its potential in the Australian football ecosystem.

“By concentrating on our second-tier talent, our model offers hundreds of additional elite, national competition level playing opportunities for our young players, high-level coaching opportunities for our best local coaches, development of strong clubs across our country, places to nurture our future administrators, unleashing funding and sponsorship opportunities and building more football-specific facilities,” Galatas said in a statement.

“And it embeds within its DNA the ability to grow and develop to a higher level, to respond to the development of our game and its needs and challenged as they arise.

“Most importantly, it offers the game’s supporters what they want,” he said.

Included in the proposed national second division are requirements all participating clubs must have grounds that can accommodate a minimum of 3,000 fans, a $200,000 participation fee from each club, and all participating clubs have to have a comprehensive women’s program in place.

Galatas also said the support for the proposal “has been overwhelming”.

“This report is about what our member clubs can contribute to Football Australia in establishing and operating a true national second tier,” Galatas said.

“It is about the best possible.

“Not about a notional ‘best’ or the merely ‘possible’.

“It identifies the most viable and financially responsible model for a true national second tier to be able to both start and, as importantly, to grow.

“Nobody seriously thinks 222 clubs sitting below and unconnected to our 12 top tier teams is the best we can do.

“That is why, since October 2017, when AAFC publicly called for a National Second Division, a true second tier, support for it among fans, players, coaches, media, retired football stars and governing bodies has been overwhelming.

“We welcome any suggestions for improvement but about one thing there can be no argument… it’s time,” he said.