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Nick Galatas: National Second Division now a ‘must have’ after 60 NPL clubs meet

Representatives from NPL clubs around Australia attended a Zoom meeting on August 25 to discuss the next steps required to formally establish a national second division (NSD).

At the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) meeting, club representatives expressed a strong interest in progressing to the next steps of implementation, including forming a NSD Partner Group to provide recommendations to Football Federation Australia (FFA).

“The meeting went extremely well, we are gratified to have had 63 clubs from around Australia attend,” said Nick Galatas, AAFC Chairman.

“I think everyone agrees that NSD is no longer in the realm of ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’ as an important means of improving the quality and level of football, but also our credentials and viability as a football nation.”

The NSD Partner Group will consist of at least 25 clubs that have a strong interest in participating in the proposed division. The group will aim to finalise detailed design, modelling, and criteria development which will form the basis of consultation with football’s stakeholder groups and submission to the FFA Board.

“This isn’t about the AAFC going off and forming the division by ourselves, but as we anticipate the division will comprise mainly of member clubs, we are working to assist the FFA by providing insight and recommendations,” Galatas said.

Galatas added that club representatives have been encouraged by recent statements from FFA CEO James Johnson and other board members.

“James has stated since day one that he is a strong supporter of forming a NSD, so we have no concern regarding the FFA’s willingness.”

Although the football community is optimistic and much work has already been done, uncertainty caused by COVID-19 could provide an obstacle moving forward.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been a significant factor in changing the environment of sport generally, but particularly community and professional football,” Galatas said.

“We also now have a Board and senior management group at FFA who more football-savvy are and want to see a NSD succeed. That’s in sharp contrast to the immediate view when we launched our initial discussion paper almost three years ago.”

The clubs heard that a number of matters are still to be finalised with FFA in accordance with its XI Principles document, as well as other stakeholders, including:

  • The merits of a national vs conference-based league
  • How promotion and relegation will be implemented from tiers below a NSD
  • The viability of a NSD for women – a measure supported by AAFC
  • How clubs will be selected into the initial season of the NSD
  • Summer vs winter season (alignment with the A-League), and
  • The appropriate governance and administration of the league.

“A NSD gives all clubs that are interested in it something to aspire to,” Galatas said.

“It will help smaller clubs that are not interested in a NSD taking part in a competition that is more relevant to them at state level. It will help galvanise football fans around the country. It will expand our national footprint. It helps the code put more pressure on all levels of government for funding support. And it gives a potential ‘FFA TV’ – as advocated by The Golden Generation – more quality content that connects all levels of the game.”

​Galatas stated that the final report to the FFA Board will be submitted before November 2020, with a view to implementation of the NSD by 2022.

Acun Medya Group secures Hull City takeover

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, headed by Acun Ilicali.

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, for a fee in the reported region of $37 million AUD.

Acun Ilicali, a 52-year-old businessman and owner of Acun Medya Group, was introduced to fans at the MKM Stadium prior to the club’s 2-0 win at home over Blackburn Rovers.

The takeover brings the controversial ownership of the Allam family to an end, much to the delight of fans after a roller coaster 11 years in charge.

Despite overseeing two promotions to the Premier League, an FA Cup Final and Hull’s first-ever foray into a European competition through the UEFA Europa League in 2014, the Allam family became increasingly unpopular with the fans.

The unpopularity of the Allam family is due to many different reasons, however it all started when the family proposed a name change to ‘Hull Tigers’ back in 2013. The move was ultimately blocked by authorities a year later, which frustrated the Allams and they then put the club up for sale, straining the relationship with fans and seeing a decline in attendances at home fixtures.

The new ownership will look to win back supporters and turn the negative tide.

Acun Medya Group Owner, Acun Ilicali:

“I am happy that I have fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City. We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans,” he said.

Outgoing Vice-Chairman Ehab Allam:

“During our tenure, we have worked hard to create a sustainable model and successful academy set-up, giving the club the foundations it needs for the future,” he said.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the last 11 years or so, but we will take some very fond memories with us… We have taken a very business-led approach to running the club and I truly hope Acun can rebuild the relationship with the fanbase and also bring back the success on the pitch that fans crave and deserve.”

Hertha Berlin pushing hard for stadium upgrade

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to the Olympiastadion.

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to its current home, the Olympiastadion, releasing fresh renderings of its vision for such a project.

The club has been attempting to progress plans to develop a new home for several years and in February 2020 stated that the OlympiaPark would be the preferred location.

In November 2018, Hertha confirmed it was targeting an opening date in July 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with preference to be building a completely new stadium rather than renovating the current one.

The current Olympiastadion has been home to Hertha Berlin for almost 60 years, and has a capacity of around 74,000. However, the club is seeking a more intimate stadium for its fans, as well as the inclusion of an athletics track.

Hertha’s former stadium commissioner, Klaus Teichert, withdrew an application for a decision to be made on the location for a new stadium, with Brandenburg also put forward as a potential location.

Hertha Berlin Chief Financial Officer, Ingo Schiller:

“We have entered into talks with the new government and are working hard to set the course for our new stadium in 2022,” he said.

“The stadium is the club’s most important project, especially in terms of the economic situation.”

There is a lot of political support necessary for the project to get approved, as the potential worksite currently includes residential apartments, a big reason for negotiations coming to a stall at times.

A resident spoke to local radio station rbb24:

“You talk about ir, but not with us. We are still not prepared to sell our apartments in Sportforumstraße or to negotiate about them,” they said.

“It is very unfortunate that our residents in Sportforumstraße are once again unsettled by this uncoordinated approach.”

Hertha Berlin and backers of the new stadium have been in negotiation with Berlin’s sports senator, Iris Spranger, with talks to continue over the next month.

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