Proponents of Australia’s proposed second division Championship want to encourage market forces and ambitious owners in both the Championship and NPL.
With promotion and relegation the carrot from day one, it is hoped market forces and ambitious owners with money will drive up professionalism at NPL and Championship level.
This is one element being fleshed out in a white paper set to be released in the next couple of weeks.
The paper outlines some of the key planks of how a second division would work and is based on feedback from recent meetings with the FFA, clubs and the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG).
Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) representative Rabieh Krayem told FTBL he is bullish about the interest and potential financial ambition in the market place.
Krayem added market forces and the lure of promotion will help push up the professionalism of clubs in the Championship and those promotion-chasing NPL sides.
“Market forces will dictate the levels of professionalism and operating costs based on the revenue streams coming in.
“But ultimately with the threat of promotion and relegation, you can only spend what you get in.
“Look at Europe...
“While there is promotion and relegation from the Championship and third tier NPL football, market forces will dictate a lot of that [generating of revenue].
“Promotion and relegation from the Championship to the third-tier of our game, the NPL, is definitely on the cards,” he added.
It’s hoped a 12-14 team second division Championship could launch in 2021.
And with that, Australian NPL clubs may have the chance to get promoted from the third tier into the second tier of Australia’s national club landscape from season one.
It opens up the possibility of wealthy and ambitious owners spending big and getting their clubs promoted from the NPL and into the Championship from 2022.
Potentially then, there may be a promotion mechanism to the A-League, though that is still being fleshed out.
“Already some of the clubs in the NPL have full-time staff,” Krayem added.
“The structure of the league will be professional but ultimately all clubs will want to be successful.
“The clubs will determine this. We have to ensure that it’s professionally run and players are treated professionally.
“The consequences of those clubs that don’t go to the next level [in terms of professionalism] the end result is you’ll likely be relegated.
Questions however still remain regarding revenue streams and broadcasting arrangements.
Krayem added there Championship may start with just promotion and no relegation in order to expand the league to the optimal number of clubs.
“But all clubs understand and want promotion and relegation to and from Australia’s third tier the NPL and the Championship.
“What that looks like, that’s another matter but there is no doubt clubs want to see that.”
How it would work remains a moot point.
Currently, the FFA run an NPL Finals Series in September featuring the winners of NPLs around the country.
“There will be a mechanism [around promotion from NPL to the Championship],” promised Krayem.
“The finer details are to be worked out.
“We want to make sure we get this white paper right before we send out.
“I know it’s taken some time but based on all the feedback, we have to take that into account.
“We’d rather get it right now than later. There is a lot of processes to go through.
“So, patience is key,” added Krayem.
“And the start of the A-League 2021/22 season is still the date we’re on target for.”
Other expected elements of the new second division include:
- A $150,000 license fee for each year for each club (though it’s unclear if that figure is capped for the duration of a license) rather than a lump sum upfront.
- Operating costs estimated per second division club to be around $2.5m
- Squad costs: around $1m (average $40,000). Marquee costs outside this
- Number of teams: 12-14 initially