Former South Melbourne FC president weighs-in on second division

Former South Melbourne FC President George Vasilopoulos has provided his insights into the National Second Division, stating he believes many issues which prevented its formation in the past still exist.

But despite the financial and geographic barriers, Vasilopoulos remains optimistic that the inception of a promotion/relegation system could reignite Australian football.

“People have been wanting to do it since the National Soccer League was established in 1977. Can you imagine how exciting it would be? People would fill up stadiums to see their team challenge for promotion,” he said.

“It would give football fans a new lease on life. There would be more sponsorship, more members, and more support.”

Reenergising the A-League is a current priority for the game’s leading administrators. With average crowd numbers stagnating over recent seasons despite growing participation, Australian football is at somewhat of a crossroads.

“The A-League started very well. I was so pleased to see large crowds attending the games but over time hit a bit of a downturn,” Vasilopoulos said.

“It takes time to build things and I am keen to see how it will play out, but recently crowds have gone down. This naturally leads to a reduction in sponsorship and money. Administrators have to work harder to find dollars which creates pressure.”

As an administrator for almost 30 years, including a 13-year period as President of South Melbourne FC from 1989-2002, Vasilopoulos attended many meetings to brainstorm a second division’s viability.

Unfortunately, the league never materialised, and he believes many of the issues that administrators faced then are still obstacles today.

“The second division has always been discussed. It would be a huge benefit for the sport, but the issues today are the same – there is a tyranny of distance in Australia and the key question remains, how will it all be funded?” he added.

“We could never come up with a legitimate strategy to make it work. Flying teams and their staff regularly over long distances is extremely expensive, not to mention accommodation and all of the other costs associated with it.”

The feasibility of a National Second Division may lie in modern solutions, with a conference style system touted to minimise travel proving a popular idea.

“Conferences with the winners playing off in a tournament is a brilliant idea. That would generate interest for fans and viewers who would know there is a massive prize at the end of it all,” Vasilopoulos said.

“You see how people react to knockout football with the popularity of the FFA Cup. There’s a lot of interest in seeing lower league clubs challenge for the cup but having a prize like promotion at the end of it would take it to another level.”

With a conference system a legitimate option to solve travel concerns, administrators are beginning to piece together a realistic model for the division. Although much work remains to be done, the formation of the Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) Championship Partner Group will only bolster funding and support, with the group’s 35 member clubs aiming to launch the second-tier in 2022.

“Having these strong, historic clubs like Marconi, Sydney Olympic, South Melbourne, Heidelberg and so on supporting the division will only help to get it off the ground. Generating that interest in the grassroots is important but if these clubs want to go up, then someone must come down and creating a system that involves relegation may be a real challenge,” Vasilopoulos said.

“Relegation may make it impossible financially. There are a wealthy people behind these clubs who contribute a lot of funding. Would a person want to put money into a club, millions of dollars if they are at risk of being relegated?”

“It’s difficult because there is definitely merit to a second division with promotion and relegation, but clubs would need financial support.”

Vasilopoulos added that a short-term solution could involve promotion without relegation, at least in the interim to top up the league and build momentum before eventually bringing in relegation down the track once the system has matured.

“From this season there will be 12 teams in the A-League. If they want to bring in a system slowly, they could have promotion playoffs for the first few years without team’s in the top league facing relegation,” he said.

“In the old National Soccer League there were 14 teams. We could create a system where for the first few years the winning second division team gets promoted and builds the league’s numbers up. This would give FFA time to create a sustainable system over time.”

For more information on the Championship Partner Group, visit here.

 

The biggest Female Football Week to date draws to a close

Female Football week is at its climax across the country with each respective state firmly involved in what has been a monumental year of growth and perseverance with one of the hottest topics amongst the sporting plethora across the nation.

Symbolising the significant strides in which female football has made down under, off the back of its maiden World Cup hosting tenure.

Football Queensland throughout the grand occasion were busy shining a spotlight upon the continuous growth of participation, encouraging women of all ages to become involved and immersed within the global game.

Football Victoria – Commentary

Football Victoria (FV) celebrated women’s football week in style.

Round 8 of the National Premier League Women’s (NPLW) competition within Victoria was unique throughout its coverage, with every match throughout the round featuring a female commentator.

A monumental feat spearheaded by the FV Commentary team, this was the first time an all female commentary round was executed.

Football Queensland

FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci disclosed his appreciation for the momentous occasion via the FQ website.

“While celebrations like FFW serve as a crucial milestone in FQ’s journey towards achieving 50/50 gender parity by 2027 and helps to further reinforce our commitment to enhancing accessibility and inclusivity, our support is not confined to this week, as we remain dedicated to prioritising our female football community year-round.”

Football Queensland – Award Ceremony

Paying homage to Referees, Club Volunteers, Players and Community Champions of the year was conducted through awards up for grabs.

FQ showcased an award ceremony towards multiple facets of football throughout the state.

A nice incentive dedicated to the recognition and appraisal of the hard work undertaken by different areas of football.

The Female Football Week club of the year was awarded to Central Football Club following their extraordinary contribution to female football within Queensland.

Displayed throughout the clubs commitment to female football, the club are fully dedicated to the advancement of women’s football.

Harvesting a fostering environment throughout the club, alongside the nourishment of young promising female footballers has been symbolised by FQ.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania partake in productive divisional assembly in Singapore

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania engaged in positive talks at the divisional assembly in Singapore for new ambitious strategies for Asian football.

The assembly involved a dialogue between interested sponsors and shareholders with the representatives of 10 Asian FIFAPRO member, candidate, and observer unions.

On the first day, the assembly discussed the central piece of future movements with the FIFPRO Asia/Oceania 2023-2026 strategic framework which allows for streamlining of the collective unions’ player-centred practices and plans.

This included each of the unions presenting effective strategies with the assembly and open discussion on how to improve past strategies that have struggled to enhance the player’s experience and the sports industry.

The second day placed certain player representatives and association shareholders in conversation over a more collaborative focus on the structure of Asian football going into the 2025-26 season.

Importantly, data from the FIFAPRO initiative ‘The Asian Champions League Report’ and other competitions including the AFC Asian Cup, AFC Women’s Club Championship and Olympic Qualifiers were used as first-hand evidence of ways in which more player-based management of football will be beneficial in the new strategies.

The growth of the ever-important tech industry in the sport was evident at the FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Player IQ Tech Summit.

Especially the potential for player data capturing in the industry, this summit highlighted how the profitable sector can work well with improving unions’ data research to influence policy and can further elevate their voice within the confederation.

For football, a stronger dialogue between the player’s unions and their respective Asian football institutions and investors will be able to create a more concise strategy for the future p where shareholders can engage in more business advancement while still allowing the players to have an important say in the way in which the game is going.

As Asia itself is such a strong region in the growth of entrepreneurs and business, it is only obvious that connecting this industry with the tradition of player power will be a massive opportunity.

This assemblies focus was accurately outlined by the FIFPRO Asia/Oceania chairperson Takuya Yamazaki.

“Our collective challenge is to design an industry that aligns the collective interests of all stakeholders, rather than continuing with the current hierarchical model which largely defines global football,” he said via media release.

“As football in the region continues to evolve, the division’s role, and the players’ voice, will only become more important, and that’s where our strategic framework provides a clear vision for our current and future work.”

These assemblies reiterate how strong professional leagues where strategies are impacted by players and their unions are profitable and beneficial for the association’s shareholders.

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