Head of A-League Greg O’Rourke says a national second tier would be a uniting force for Australian football by unlocking the tribalism of National Soccer League clubs.
When FFA CEO David Gallop announced that the ultimate goal for football in Australia was promotion and relegation he also said that NPL clubs would be in the mix.
O’ Rourke reiterated Gallop’s stance and revealed that former NSL clubs would have an important role in the creation of a two-tiered system.
“The great win for this game will be when we unlock the A-League and the rich history that built the game to where we see it is today,” he said.
“The FFA strategy is to connect all levels of the game. There is still quite a disconnect between the A-League and the National Premier Leagues that sit inside the Member Federation. That would be solved by a National second division and that also provides a sound base for the discussion around promotion and relegation.”
O’Rourke, once Chairman of Football NSW, said the passion of former NSL sides needs to be harnessed.
“I’ve lived it,” he said. “It’s one of the greatest opportunities that his game has. Football is tribal and the way that you build successful clubs is around unlocking that tribalism. There is no doubt there is tribalism in the Member Federation Premier Leagues and State League competition.
“It’s a proud tradition from all these clubs irrespective whether you label them of having ethnic backgrounds or not. That collage of clubs, players and culture is something to be very proud and really the challenge now for the FFA, now that the A-League has grown to such a success is to reconnect. Is how does it reconnect to this very rich history of football to the professional side?
“We’ve seen that through small parts of the FFA Cup, we’ve seen it again through the National Premier Leagues and the NPL finals series, but there is much more to be done.”
This week National League powerhouse South Melbourne annouced its interest in joining an expanded A-League with Sydney Olympic CEO John Boulous stating the former NSL Champions also had aspirations.
“As a club Sydney Olympic are excited about any opportunity for expansion of the A-League,” he said. “We are very keen to see a detailed plan for what is the actual outline for expansion because our goal is to play at the highest level of football in Australia.”
“We are not going to come out and make outlandish statements that we are going to be in the A-League but certainly we are interested in seeing more.”
Former NSL team Melbourne Knights have also never hidden their ambitions to be part of Australia’s top flight.
“The club naturally has aspirations to play at the highest possible level available to it,” a spokesperson for the Melbourne Knights said.
“We want to share our footballing culture and knowledge with the entire football community at the highest level. We have proven that when these two very strong forces synergise, we can be a highly valuable contributing member to Australian football.”