AAFC Chairman Nick Galatas has outlined his plans for the organisation for 2021, with the continued pursuit of the introduction of a national second division at the top of his list.
Speaking with Soccerscene, Galatas explained that at the core of the organisation’s work on a national second tier, is the importance of producing the best outcomes for the sport.
“It’s about having the best possible national second division,” he said.
“That is front and centre of what we have put forward. What we’ve asked our clubs to put forward is not the minimum they can do, but the maximum they can do. Yes, we can always do less than the best, work below our capacity and set low targets that we can achieve.
“But we think we can do better than that.
“The clubs are assuming the risk, they are putting up the money and their resources, they think they can make it work from within their capability. Let’s use it, why wouldn’t we tap into that resource?”
FA CEO James Johnson recently spoke with Simon Hill on the Shim, Spider and So Much Moore podcast, praising the AAFC’s model and philosophically agreeing with the concept of a national second division with 12-16 teams.
However, Johnson believes that a more pragmatic model is a two-phase system where clubs will play out their local NPL season, with the best sides to then progress into a national-based “Champions League” group stage competition at the back-end of the year.
Galatas believes it is up to AAFC to convince Football Australia that the research they have conducted, in their feasibility progress report, will ultimately show that their model for a national second division is the appropriate way forward for the sport.
“Our job is to show Football Australia what they philosophically think is better, is in fact better and does in fact work,” he stated.
“We are not rejecting the outline of what James put out the other day, it may turn out to be better. We will explore that further and try and look at that and imagine it to its best level and work on that in good faith. If it looks good, and the risk associated with that is so much lower to make it more viable, then great.
“But, our work to date shows that it is not the case.
“The cost to the revenue side of a more limited model and the difficulty our member clubs will have in selling that to their own people, in terms of generating the relevant interest, isn’t worth it, as the savings it involves doesn’t compensate for the forgone revenue and interest. We look forward to seeing the FA model James mentioned in more detail when it’s ready, but we have anticipated such a model in our progress report before settling on our preferred model.”
AAFC hopes to complete its final report on its national second division plans by April, with Galatas anticipating a lot of the year to be occupied by Football Australia’s modelling of the second tier, something the organisation expects to play a notable role in.
Alongside this, they will look to navigate through all the changes to the game that directly affect the NPL clubs they are representing.
The organisation intends to conduct some work on advancing the women’s game in the country in the build-up to the 2023 Women’s World Cup, whilst also keeping abreast with recent announcements from the governing body.
“Going on to the domestic transfer system and the white paper FA has introduced, we are definitely looking at that. We’re preparing our position and contribution to that,” Galatas said.
“Football Australia also recently put out its domestic football calendar, so we are getting our heads around that as well and where we fit in.”
Possible reforms are also set to occur to NPL competition structures across Australia.
“We’ll be working with the member federations and with Football Australia in continuing to evolve that,” he said.
“There have been reviews into structures in Victoria, NSW and one now happening in Queensland, so we are constantly working on that part of it because most of our member clubs are involved in that.”
Galatas, based in Melbourne, believes on the back of the enthusiasm and movement on the second division front, strong crowds should turn out for the NPL season in Victoria.
“A lot of people want to see their teams play, practice match crowds are up from what I’ve heard and hopefully there are bumper crowds for the season.”