FFA chairman Chris Nikou says he believes in a second division, but it probably won't happen for over a decade.
Nikou was quoted speaking at the Australian Football Writer's Festival in Jamberoo, after he was pressed on the feasibility and timelines for introducing a national second division with promotion and relegation.
'As I stand here now promotion and relegation is unlikely until 2034,'' Nikou said.
''You need to have a second division established. Those clubs need to be able to step up ... if the gap is too big they won't be able to do it."
It wasn't an opinion shared by fellow FFA board member Remo Nogarotto, who took to Twitter to attempt to dispel fears raised by fans and journalists. Nogarotto and other board members have kept a reasonably open stream of communication on the social media platform since the board restructuring took place.
"Got no idea where that number comes from," Nogarotto posted.
"Sounds pretty arbitrary. Must be a private view and certainly one that is not shared by me. Would have preferred a proper board discussion before publicly ventilating but there's Oz football for you."
The FFA chairman's caution stems from a lack of obvious investors to maintain a second tier to the A-League, in addition to the financial insecurity of existing A-League clubs. In little over a decade, FFA has wound up three A-League franchises and rescinded many more from club owners.
But in his Q&A session with the audience, Nikou did elaborate on how A-League expansion could quell some of the criticism surrounding the league, based on problems around stagnation, relationships with former NSL clubs and professional opportunities for young Australian footballers.
''A-League expansion does that a little bit, we are going to 12 clubs, maybe 14, maybe 16," he said.
''The second division does create more pathways ... if a player does not get an A-League or W-League contract then there's a chance to put themselves into the shop window.
''But I am not keen to have a model that's doomed to failure.''
FFA released a statement shortly after Nikou’s comments, clarifying that the chairman’s comments relate to the Club Participation Agreement (CPA) that A-League clubs signed, which extends until 2034.
They also noted that the exact timeline involved in introducing promotion and relegation will be decided by the New League Working Group and Second Division Working Group.
“Under the terms of the existing Club Participation Agreement (CPA), existing and incoming Australian Hyundai A-League Clubs are entitled to participate in the Hyundai A-League until the year 2034,” the statement said.
“Whilst the CPA also provides for the introduction of promotion and relegation during that period at its discretion, FFA notes that the New Leagues Working Group and the Second Division Working Group are currently considering the future structure of the top two tiers of Australian club football, including what provisions for promotion and relegation should be established.
“These provisions are expected to include the specific timing of the establishment of a Second Division, targeted commencement of promotion and relegation to and from the Hyundai A-League, and the prioritisation of Second Division Clubs as part of expansion of the Hyundai A-League beyond 12 teams.”