Melbourne Knights have unveiled their vision of a national second division in response to the white paper revealed last week by Football Federation Australia
And it specifically counters several of the key ideas raised by the FFA - and demands some wholesale changes to the way Australian football operates, including a full transfer fee system and immediate promotion and relegation.
They want a National Second Division made up of at least 12 teams from season one, earning their spot on merit, and played at the same time as the A-League in the Australian summer.
They want instant promotion and relegation for clubs to and from the NPL, with the possibility for NSD clubs to join the A-League – and A-League clubs to drop down a rung – within five years of its launch.
"Promotion into the A-League based primarily but not entirely on sporting merit should begin within five years of the NSD starting," says the Knights report.
"This would mean by winning the NSD, a club would have the right to demonstrate that it is able to meet the reasonably set and published criteria for A-League participation.
"Promotion and relegation would begin once the A-League has expanded to 14 teams.
"We reject the [FFA's] idea of phased protection with an incubation period and then promotion and relegation."
The result of promotion and relegation would also work in tandem with the A-League expansion to ensure any further new clubs added to the top tier are there purely on merit rather than geographical areas targeted by the FFA or broadcast partners.
They rejected any suggestions of the A-League clubs setting up the National Second Division as a reserve league for their own purposes and instead want to see it as a home for cream of the crop players from the existing talent pool across the NPL.
"It is obvious that there has been discussion around introducing A-league reserves teams into a NSD – an idea we reject – unless these teams were promoted into the NSD on sporting merit after the competition gets off the ground rather than through franchise nepotism," the Knights insist.
Their main concern is that the NSD should be a showcase for Australian talent rather than stacked with foreign import players continuing to impede the player pathway for young Australians.
"The advent of the A-League has caused two issues for Australian football," says the Knights report.
"Firstly, we have stopped exporting players into leagues where they have the opportunity to challenge themselves.
"We cannot expect to produce players of an international standard ‘in-house’. The path to international competitiveness is through having a greater playing pool in international leagues, especially in Europe.
"Secondly, with greater money flowing in and out of the game, it has allowed the A-League clubs the opportunity to be in the market for foreigners who aren’t necessarily adding value to the game."
Likewise, the Knights call for a limit to the FFA's involvement in the way leagues run.