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Second division dream still alive

The A-League may be independent, but that won’t get in the way of the big plans for a second division with promotion and relegation.

While it may seem like a barrier, Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) chairman Nick Galatas is an optimist.

He has recently spoken about how these changes should be considered, despite the A-League being independent. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be put on the table, with a revamp for Australian soccer not outside the realms of possibility.\

“We have no reason to believe that the A-League owners will do anything other than support what we’re trying to do with a national second division,” Galatas said.

“We think it will help the whole game. It will create great excitement throughout the country when it’s formed.

“We see what the A-League is doing and we see that they are trying to raise the profile of their competition and of football and we believe that what we are doing will assist that and help to expand the game throughout Australia.

“We see a national second division as a necessary condition for promotion and relegation because we need to fill the gap that currently exists between the A-League and NPL.”

Having been involved in the game during the transition from the old National Soccer League to the A-League, Galatas believes he has a new model will help positively shape the future of soccer.

“No doubt many of our constituents will feel there was a time when they were left behind as the focus shifted on the professional side of the game at A-League level at the exclusion of others,” he said.

“But I’m seeing a lot of goodwill and I think everyone is starting to realise that the game as a whole benefit when everyone is involved and invested.

“Whether you’re an A-League club or a team below that with potential to grow and reach its potential, why shouldn’t that be welcomed?”

Since the AAFC has been formed, it’s made massive inroads for the potential of introducing a national second division, which came to light in a meeting between Victorian clubs.

“We always thought that the clubs would bind together because they have a common interest and the environment they were operating in has been difficult for them,” he said.

“I guess I’m pleasantly surprised with the level of commitment over a long period between so many different clubs from all across Australia.

“There are very, very different types of clubs across Australia and the fact that we’ve been able to keep everyone together, informed and moving in the same direction has been great.

“We were new at the time the old board’s tenure was coming to an end.

“I guess we weren’t on the landscape and we were a new organisation and there were a lot of pressures on that board at that time, so perhaps we were last on their mind.

“But we were still invited by them to all the critical meetings in which FIFA was involved so ultimately they accepted us and collaborated with us even before the new board was elected.

“We’re working very well with the new board as well and they’ve been very accepting of us and in particular Chris Nikou and Remo Nogarotto, which has been very encouraging.”

Galatas has had talks with the FFA board, the PFA and other related stakeholders, with the plan being a new second division should come into effect by the 2021-22 season.

“When we started we really sought to have a voice and be recognised on the congress, which we’ve made progress on,” he said.

“That’s obviously opened up the discussions around a second division and conducting and completing a national review of the NPL, so we’ve worked through some of the big-ticket items, I guess now the focus is on doing what we’re here to do and work with our club members and the issues they face from state to state.

“We’re here to make sure the NPL clubs are properly represented at every level, including at the FFA level and making sure their concerns are addressed through the FFA and the state federations.

“In Victoria, we’ve had a lot to do with the new NPL structure there, we’ve liaised with our clubs to liaise with Football Victoria to ensure it’s implemented as smoothly as possible.

“We’re getting involved in state-based issues and each director has an eye on their state.

“We believe a national second division will help in this area because it will help develop stronger clubs and unleash new investment in the game at this level.

“It will encourage greater participation and supporters which will lead to better facilities.

“As we develop as an organisation we’ve been able to put people in place who assist clubs in providing know-how and IP and general assistance we share amongst our clubs to help show them how to access grants and investment from local, state and federal government, the private sector as well as sporting trusts.

“It’s so important to our game because it’s lasting and can lead to exponential growth.”

Senior Journalist reporting key international news from around the globe.

2023 Women’s World Cup: Host to be announced June 25

Australia and New Zealand will find out whether they will host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in under six weeks’ time.

FIFA have confirmed the successful candidate will be announced on June 25, following a vote by their council.

Alongside the joint Australian and New Zealand bid, Brazil, Colombia and Japan are still in the running to host the 2023 event.

“We believe that our proven ability to deliver the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is a key strength of our bid,” FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said.

“Our world-class infrastructure, modern stadia, high-quality football facilities in both Australia and New Zealand and major event hosting experience ensure certainty in delivering the first 32 team FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“From operational excellence, record-breaking crowds, commercial success, strong government support, a warm embrace from our 200 diverse cultures to a genuine profound legacy across the Asia-Pacific region, Australia-New Zealand offers certainty in uncertain times, as well as impact,” he said.

New Zealand Football President Johanna Wood said: “Our proposal offers FIFA a ground-breaking approach to hosting its greatest women’s tournament.  We are two nations from two confederations, united in proposing a historic and exciting step forward for world football.

“We will be a tournament of firsts. The first ever co-Confederation hosted FIFA World Cup, the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, and the first ever to be held in the southern hemisphere.

“And as important as all of this, we are nations proud of our commitment to equality and fairness and would embody a FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 built on common humanity through football.

“As the world looks to adapt and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our bid offers an exciting vision to bring the world together As One in 2023 to celebrate women’s football and inspire women and girls around the world,” she concluded.

Stuart Hodge addresses future for Football NSW

Stuart Hodge

Football NSW Chief Executive Officer Stuart Hodge has addressed key topics on the association’s radar in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the CDSFA Community Football Podcast, Hodge is keen for the league to restart as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“I certainly think the government have to take in a lot of factors as we’ve seen with the pandemic – anything can change one day to the next,” he said.

“It was a positive step forward that they’ve got the national principles and the government and NSW will now review those and look at guidelines.

“They’ll have to balance that up with other information that they have and state-specific information here in NSW.

“We’re hopeful given that from some of the surveys which we’ve seen that most people are keen to get out and play again.

“The physical, mental and social benefits are well documented, but we have to make sure we do it under the right conditions and that is when the government says it’s okay.”

The flow on effect of the competition’s postponement will be how clubs juggle summer sports with councils if they clash later down the line, something Hodge is aware of.

“It’s a challenge for all of them and we’re in discussions with some summer sports to try and get some principles in place that if we get football resumed, we’ll have some additional time beyond what we normally get,” he said.

“From some associations, the feedback is from councils have been very sympathetic.

“We’ve collectively lost a couple months of the season already so the opportunity to play a little bit later into the year would be welcomed.

“We’re also conscious that we want to try and keep things on track for next year when hopefully we return on time.

“It’s a balance because we appreciate that there’s also participants that are involved in multiple sports so we’re wanting to help them out and not over-burden them.

“Councils also need to turn fields around although I noticed some of them looking magnificent at the moment.

“We’ve had some very big discussions and hopefully it’s just a fair and reasonable approach which is all we’re asking for.”

One of the main issues across all sports due to postponements has been the topic of refunds, with games in professional sport being played behind closed doors.

While there’s still the unknown about when fans can return to grounds in 2020 and beyond, Hodge has clarified how Football NSW will look to navigate through this tricky time.

“I think in the interim if people are facing financial hardship then of course they should be in touch with their club to get a refund,” Hodge said.

“If the season gets underway then we’ll have to redo our modelling and look at what the fee structures are.

“I hope we do get back on the field and we can go down that path – if the season doesn’t get played then everyone will have to sit and remodel what the costs are and things like that.”

Since this podcast was published on 5th May, Football NSW have moved a step closer to resuming training at the very least with the NSW Government confirming an easing of restrictions – taking affect from Friday 15th May including:

  • outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
  • cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time
  • up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time
  • weddings up to 10 guests
  • indoor funerals up to 20 mourners, outdoor funerals up to 30
  • religious gatherings/places of worship up to 10 worshipers
  • use of outdoor equipment with caution
  • outdoor pools open with restrictions.

In a recent press release, it’s mentioned the Office of Sport is working closely with government agencies about how sporting organisations can safely return to action.

Football Victoria appreciative of $150 million state government package

Football Victoria (FV) have expressed their gratitude on the back of a recent announcement by the Victorian Government, which outlaid a $150 million financial support package for sport, tourism and creative industries.

FV CEO Peter Filopoulos believes the funding will be essential for football’s survival, as well as all other sports in Victoria.

“This package is absolutely critical to ensure that our sporting clubs and institutions have a fighting chance of getting through what has been an incredibly tough period,” Filopoulos said.

“In football, the effects of shutting down our game for several months are very significant.

“What we do know is that it will take an enormous, community-wide effort to get our clubs, leagues and associations restarted and this package will play a significant role in making sure that happens.”

Filopoulos claimed the sport was doing everything possible to survive in a period with virtually no revenue, despite costs continuing in some areas.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event and both Football Victoria and our 355 clubs with 450,000-plus participants moved as quickly as possible to adjust,” he said.

“This support package gives us an opportunity to make it through these turbulent times and means that when it’s time for sport to restart as normal, the football community will be ready to go from the opening whistle.”

Football Victoria praised the work of the Andrews Government in making sure that football would be in a good place to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would like to pay a special thanks to Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Sport, Martin Pakula and Minister for Community Sport, Ros Spence MP, for keeping us front of mind in what has been a challenging time for all Victorians,” Filopoulos said.

“That forward thinking will allow us to play our part in helping Victoria get back to normal as quickly as possible.”

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