AAFC have released their progress report into a feasible national second division, believing the competition can get underway by 2022.
According to the document, the organisation says the league could initially start with 12 clubs, but hopes to eventually rise to 16 teams through promotion and relegation from state NPLs, as long as those clubs meet certain standards.
“This report is about what our member clubs can contribute to Football Australia in establishing and operating a true national second tier,” AAFC chairman Nick Galatas said.
“It is about the best possible. Not about a notional ‘best’ or the merely ‘possible.’ It identifies the most viable and financially responsible model for a true national second tier to be able to both start and, as importantly, to grow.”
AAFC estimate that the league will cost up to $3.3million to operate each year, with participating clubs to pay a $200,000 fee each season and require an annual budget of $1m-$1.8m.
Most of the costs are due to travel, however partner clubs involved in the interim report have made it clear the figures listed are achievable due to the expected additional revenue they can generate.
The report outlines the proposed second division would be played in alignment with the A-League season, whether that is winter or summer.
Promotion and relegation to the A-League is not an immediate goal for the second division plans, however AAFC envisions a scenario which could see it introduced by 2028.
The organisation has also targeted 2025 for the commencement of a national second tier for women, recognising the importance of the female side of the game.
“Currently, like the men’s second tier, the women’s second tier is comprised of the Women’s National Premier Leagues run separately by each Member Federation. AAFC considers women’s football vital to the overall health of our game. Hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 presents us with a wonderful opportunity to grow women’s football, including through the introduction of a true national second tier,” Galatas said.
“We have pressed for a NSD for women from the outset, but this measure has not received the same measure of support from our governing bodies and other stakeholders, so our report addresses it in that context.”
AAFC will now consult with relevant stakeholders in the game including Football Australia, before finalising the final report by Easter to present to the governing body.