New Football Federation Australia CEO James Johnson believes the introduction of a second division will help unify the game’s stakeholders.
Mr Johnson listed the game’s unification as his top priority – in addition to the A-League’s divorce from the FFA and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup joint bid with New Zealand.
Among the recommendations listed in the second division whitepaper released in June 2019 was to introduce a “financially stable” National Second Division for the 2021/22 season – with the competition operating without promotion and relegation in the first five-year cycle.
The FFA Cup – which launched in 2014 – has been a positive step in bridging the professional and local game in Australia, though a lack of progress since has frustrated the game’s stakeholders, with a lack of exposure and development of young players a primary grievance.
A National Second Division will aim to rectify this – with more opportunities given to players, coaches and referees at a professional level.
“In my experience, there’s a number of different mechanisms that are out there and these are football mechanisms that are really good unifiers,” Mr Johnson told FNR.
“I’ve already talked publicly about a second-tier comp, but I think if we’re able to ensure more of our clubs have opportunities at higher levels.
“If we can make sure our players coaches and referees are able to develop in a second tier, I think it’s going to help unification and it’s good for football. Because more football means better football, it’s as simple as that.
“I think other good unification mechanisms include, for example, a transfer system. In a healthy transfer system there’s a fair balance between players freedom of movement, on one hand, and the club’s contractual stability on the other and there is reward.
“The clubs are incentivised to develop players because there is a reward for clubs to develop players and the unification aspect is the talent goes up the line of the pyramid and the distribution goes down, which connects the top of the pyramid to the bottom.”
Australia’s joint Women’s World Cup bid with New Zealand was also identified as a way of unifying the stakeholders.
The Australia/New Zealand bid faces stiff competition from Japan, Colombia and Brazil to host the 2023 tournament.
“I think we’re well placed, I think the FFA has put forward a very good bid it’s a very well-rounded bid, now it is a FIFA process and global process so it’s very competitive,” Mr Johnson said.
“You have the Japanese, who have a seat on the FIFA council, the Japanese are very strong politically both in Asia and in world football. Then you have Colombia, who would obviously be hosting it in a very good commercial time-zone, that time-zone between West-Europe and East-America is really the best time-zone to be in from a commercial aspect.
“So if FIFA goes with the all-round bid we have a very good chance, if they lean towards the politics Japan have a very good chance and if they look at it from a commercial point-of-view, the Colombians will have a good chance.”