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.