Season 2021/22 is the date the National Second Division Working Group has recommended for the establishment of a “Championship”.
The white paper released today outlines several key principles for a newly appointed steering committee to review and report to the Football Federation Australia board by November 2019, with the view to opening expressions of interests by early 2020.
Recommendations for the structure of the second division consist of there being a minimum of eight clubs in the division in the first two of years of its operation.
Likewise, the second division will also be used to “incubate clubs” who have the potential to join an expanded A-League – allowing for two to four opportunities for expansion within the next ten years.
It is recommended large geographical areas which are not represented in the A-League – who also have strong participation numbers at grassroots level – should be identified, with each club having a stadium “appropriate for the second division” with a minimum capacity of 5,000 and maximum of 15,000.
In relation to the expansion of women’s football, the report suggests a plan to be developed for all second division clubs have a women’s side to allow for the establishment of a women’s second division.
The report also explores how Australia’s youth development could be improved as a result of a second division, outlining a set of criteria for the amount of youth and foreign players on a squad list.
It recommends the FFA to consider imposing limits on second division clubs which include: 2-3 minimum Australian U21 players, 2-3 minimum Australian U23 players and a maximum of two foreign players.
In addition, it is recommended all coaches be licensed and either Australian or having worked in the Australian system for a minimum of four years.
The time frame of the division’s season was also analysed with the report providing four options for the FFA to consider.
- The second division to run in the winter months to not conflict with the A-League and coincide better with grassroots competitions.
- A 10-16 week season played “on the shoulder season” of the A-League or NPL competitions.
- A full or partial season which runs simultaneously to the A-League.
- A combination of the three.
With promotion and relegation being a key element to football’s expansion in Australia – the report breaks the system down into two five year phases.
The first five year phase consists of no promotion and relegation, allowing for all second division clubs – and new A-League sides – to establish and consolidate themselves.
In the fifth year, it is recommended promotion and relegation is introduced between the second division and ‘NPL1’ with it to be introduced between the second division and the A-League during this five year window “at an appropriate time.”