National competition format preferred

Hume City and Altona Magic are in the NSD partner group. (Shawn Smits). 204646_18

Tara Murray

A true national soccer competition is the favoured model for the National Second Division competition.

The Reshaping the second tier of football in Australia progress report, released last week, sets out the proposed working model for the NSD as developed by Association of Australian Football Clubs [AAFC] together with its NSD Partner Group.

It identifies and explores the critical success factors for a successful NSD and discusses the available options for governance and commercial arrangements for the new league, and its clubs.

Among the 32 clubs in the partner group are local clubs Altona Magic, Hume City, Caroline Springs George Cross and Melbourne Knights.

The report stated that Football Australia chief executive James Johnson, has repeatedly said it was no longer about “if” we will have a national second division but about “how” and “when”.

In the report, the group highlights the forming of a new competition in 2022-23 with 12 clubs initially and looking to expand to 16 by 2025.

It states there is a pathway gap between the A-League and the NPL clubs.

“This report is about what our member clubs can contribute to Football Australia in establishing and operating a true national second tier,” it states.

“It is about the best possible. Not about a notional “best” or the merely “possible”.

Promotion and relegation with the NPL competitions is essential for the competition, with discussions about promotion and relegation with the A-League once the competition is established also on the cards.

The report looked at three different models on how the competition could run.

The three competition models considered were a national competition, a conference system and the existing National Premier League’s play an extended national finals series.

The partner group’s view is for a singular national competition.

“The proposed model represents the best possible financially viable and responsible true second tier which can be delivered.

“We understand it may disappoint those with more ambitious hopes for it from the start – that it might be immediately fully professional, for example.”

While it’s predicted to cost more than the other options, more than $1 million per club, overall that competition structure’s benefits outweigh the others.

“As disclosed by the analysis, any savings in travel costs are more than off-set by the expected reduced revenue from such a model,” the report states.

“Further, the wider benefits a truly national second division will bring to the game will not be achieved by a localised conference model.”

The report also addresses a national second tier for women. The report states a women’s competition would kick-off in 2025.

NSD clubs continue to participate in NPL at youth level – both boys and girls, continuing a strong pathway.

The final report is to be delivered in April.