Melbourne Knights have unveiled their vision of a national second division in response to the white paper revealed last week by Football Federation Australia
"We must stress that the governing body should not concern themselves with the composition of squads or their average age but rather that squads are comprised of a majority of Australian players," says the Knights report.
"Otherwise, the end result of incubated or managed competitions in such a manner will mean that a NSD will become for the most part a glorified youth league.
"The NSD must be a serious competition with clubs afforded the freedom to choose their squads as they see fit."
Rather than clubs be forced to spend or limit their spending, they want to see market forces decide how clubs perform and their budgets – with big-spending clubs targeting the A-League, while more modest clubs tailor their ambitions...and overspenders suffering the long-term viability consequences of bad decisions.
"If clubs are foolish enough to chase glory and crash and burn they are the only ones to blame," says the Knights report.
"Understandably if there was immediate pressure on clubs and they did crash and burn, it may mean there is some blowback on FFA.
"We must also trust that the average football fan is quite intelligent and a club ceasing to exist shouldn’t have any adverse effect on how the game is perceived with the people that matter."
The Knights acknowledge the huge gap between the A-League and current NPL sides, and want the NSD to act as a proper stepping stone between the tiers.
The report adds: "There is no purpose in creating an NSD that will operate at near A-League levels for it only to create another chasm to the tier below it.
"The concept that the market will find its equilibrium is essential in understanding this principle.
"If a NSD is made up of, for example 12 clubs, with three clubs fully professional at inception, then those three clubs are likely to dominate the competition and will in a way force the other nine clubs to professionalise to be competitive."
One of the biggest proposed changes is to the transfer system. At the moment Australian clubs only receive a token payment if one of their players is signed by an A-League side.
The Knights want the system to become as open-ended as the rest of the world.
"A full transfer fee system must be consistently applied from the top to bottom within Australian football; that is from the A-league, NSD, NPL and to all the tiers below and between each other." says their report
"The transfer system would then feed into the top level of the game with a view to increase offshore transfer dollar inflows.
"The system must also allow for percentages of future transfers within Australia and overseas on top of training compensation and solidarity payment mechanisms."
They added: "The Melbourne Knights Football Club is keenly interested in participating in a National Second Division which would allow the club the opportunity to grow and meet its potential.
"It is therefore imperative for clubs that are interested in participating in such a competition put forward their own proposals with the aim of contributing to the public debate and to help shape the future competition’s framework."