Australian clubs begin second phase of selection process for National Second Tier

24 clubs will participate in the Request for Proposal (RFP) phase of the National Second Tier (NST) selection process, as Football Australia edges closer to an official start date for the competition.

Only two or four clubs will join the eight foundation clubs for the inaugural competition, which is planned to start in March/April 2025.

Within their submission, clubs will need to demonstrate their operational and commercial readiness, alignment with strategic objectives, and a commitment to developing talent and engaging communities.

To assess clubs’ financial readiness, Football Australia has again sought the services of Australian financial services firm, BDO, to deliver analysis that will be crucial to the sustainability of the NST and its member clubs.

Clubs must submit their RFP by mid-April for assessment. The ‘Completion Phase’, where potential clubs will learn their fate, has been set for June 2024.

Speaking via press release, Football Australia CEO James Johnson believes the refined second phase represents a great opportunity for Australian football clubs.

“The RFP phase is a cornerstone in our journey towards a more dynamic and competitive National Second Tier as we look for clubs which will elevate the game, contribute to their communities, and embody the spirit of inclusivity and excellence,” Johnson said.

Football Australia is yet to decide on the format for the inaugural competition, which will be affected by whether it chooses two or four teams from the RFP phase. The two proposed formats are:

  • A 10-team competition with two rounds plus a Finals Series, totalling 18 regular season matches.
  • A 12-team competition with two rounds plus a Finals Series, totalling 22 regular season matches.

Last November, eight clubs from New South Wales and Victoria were successful in the first phase of the NST selection phase. These clubs include:

New South Wales

  • APIA Leichhardt FC
  • Marconi Stallions FC
  • Sydney Olympic FC
  • Sydney United 58 FC
  • Wollongong Wolves FC


  • Avondale FC
  • Preston Lions FC
  • South Melbourne FC

Clubs from states outside New South Wales and Victoria will be hopeful of their inclusion to make the second tier truly national, but as CEO Johnson eludes, the selection process will not be sentimental.

“Our goal is clear: to identify clubs that align with our strategic objectives and are ready to rise to the occasion. The clubs that join us in this journey will play a crucial role in enriching the tapestry of Australian football,” Johnson added via media release.

The NST represents an exciting opportunity for Australian football to evolve on an unprecedented scale. Football fans should be reassured by Football Australia’s commitment to delivering a careful and considered selection process that ensures the safety of Australia’s most significant football institutions.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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