Promotion/Relegation Pipedream Thread

Could arguably go in expansion but Ill chuck this here because you know I love making new threads

A long-awaited national second division has moved a step closer with a white paper set to be put to the board of Football Federation Australia within the next two weeks.

The Australian has obtained a draft of the comprehensive 41-page document, which details 24 recommendations for the introduction of the second tier, likely to be known as The Championship, below the A-League in 2021.

Among the key recommendations under consideration are:

  • The league be introduced by 2021;
  • A 10 to 16-team competition that would allow for 25 per cent of the teams from smaller regions (depending on the eventual size of the league) to be quarantined;
  • No promotion or relegation for the first two years;
  • Promotion and relegation between the new competition and the tiers below it to be introduced between five and 10 years;
  • Clubs limited to two foreign players each;
  • Clubs to ideally have stadiums with a minimum capacity of 5000 and maximum of 15,000;
  • Provide a time line “to build women’s teams attached to the second division”.

It is understood the draft has now been distributed among the various stakeholders of the game for feedback and possible changes before it is officially signed off and delivered to FFA.

In a move of great foresight, one of the more significant initiatives of the second division includes the provision to promote and expand the game’s footprint into regional towns or cities with a population of under 600,000 so that the league is not dominated by teams based in the major capital cities.

That would provide scope for the inclusion of teams from places such as Cairns and Hobart and providing a broader base to be involved in professional football.

As to who will run the competition, it is believed there are three options: FFA, which will relinquish the A-League once it becomes independent; it is run as an independent competition; or it is licensed back to the AAFC.

Among a raft of changes following the restructuring of FFA’s voting congress, the head body instigated the National Second Division Working Group late last year. It is working in parallel with the New Leagues Working Group which is looking into forming an independent A-League.

The NSDWG held its first meeting late last month but, under chairman Remo Nogarotto, who is also on the board of FFA, and Rabi Krayem, chairman of the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC), has moved quickly to get the process up and running.

Under Krayem, the AAFC has been the prime mover in the push for a second division after it was first mooted in 2017. The NSDWG has sensibly opted to take a careful, detailed and steady approach to ensure it is given the best chance for success.

Much of the concern from outsiders around the implementation of the second division is the cost factor and whether it can be funded properly and without financial issues.

However, The Australian understands there is a commitment to only spend money that the competition gains from revenue, which insiders say “puts to bed people saying we can’t afford to do it”.

Significantly, the final paragraph in the white paper says they are “of the view that the commercial model should be aligned with the principle of being financially sustainable. As such, a cost structure should reflect the amount of revenues that are likely to be achieved by the NSD”.


Second division ‘white paper’ submitted as aspiring teams circle

Another key milestone has been cleared in the mission to establish a national second division to underpin the A-League. A ‘white paper’ has been written and submitted to the members of the Second Division Working Group, who have been meeting over the past month to find a way to make this long-held dream become a reality.

The paper is 40 pages long, contains 25 recommendations and will apparently be released publicly at some stage in the near future. It should make for very interesting reading, but the Hairdryer keeps hearing one word which sums up what it is trying to achieve: incubator.

As in, the second division will serve as an incubator for aspiring A-League clubs, with future expansion to come straight from the new tier of national football - rather than out of thin air like Western United or Macarthur-South West United.

With that said, there have been some interesting recent developments involving at least two of the bids which missed out on becoming the A-League’s 11th or 12th club.

The consortium behind Team 11, which proposed a club in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, is very much still active and the Hairdryer hears an official announcement is imminent about their future plans. A spot in the new second division, slated to begin as early as next year, is understood to be at the very core of them.

But the news isn’t so good up in Queensland. Brisbane City have long been thought of as one of the next cabs off the rank but the man who was driving their A-League pursuit, Robert Cavallucci, has stepped down as president after clashing with other board members about the NPL club’s direction.

Cavallucci is taking some time to consider his options but it’s hard to see how Brisbane City’s A-League ambitions will come to fruition without his expertise. In turn, it’s hard to know who the Sunshine State’s next club will be if not them. The race might have just blown wide open.

1 Like

This will be one of the most interesting things to watch in the next few years. I’m still sceptical about how financially sustainable it will be and if anyone will actually watch but good on them for giving it a go.

Yep, I wish it well, and if it works it will make things much more enjoyable (I am so sick of the same opponents in the HAL) but I’m very skeptical as to its viability.

What exactly is the problem that P&R solves that isn’t present in NRL, AFL, NBL or cricket?

The article is behind a pay wall and I won’t be even bothering with The Australian anyway so I’m going to make some guesses based on RedKat’s summary.

Is the second division meant to be a fully professional league or semi-professional league? The costs for paying full-time employees is going to be a big hurdle for even the big NPL clubs, and that’s even before travel considerations, which currently aren’t there for the NPL clubs unless they win their state competition and proceed to the NPL finals. Someone is going to have to pay for it all and I feel like we’re already getting a lot of money from Fox Sports for a competition (A-League) that isn’t really getting a huge viewership. We’re relying on Socceroos and Matildas games to get any sort of decent viewership numbers.

TV money is critical. Who is going to show the second division games? We wouldn’t have an A-League without it and we won’t have a second division without it, either. Unless Fox, in an alternate reality, decide to give the game more money in the next deal and we get maybe a match of the round + highlights package or something.

I’d be eager to see their paper in full, because right now there are far too many ifs and buts for an ambitious (and interesting) project to be launched in the next two years.

It solves a perception that we aren’t a proper footballing culture, at least among a certain sort of fan.

1 Like

I also hope that their working group also realises that many other nations, at some point, do embrace regional divisions and have a promotion system for them. Germany and Spain are two big examples. The Spanish Seguenda Division B promotion play-off rules are absolutely fucking batshit, though. I hope any regional promotion plan is nothing like that. Something proper and fair, please.

A bunch of clubs that used to be the top tier of football in this country aren’t the top tier anymore and they haven’t gotten over it. They have a desperate need to be at the top again. Despite the fact that they had decades at the top and never once advanced the game beyond the ethnic enclaves their core support started with. Therefore never pushing themselves and the game into the mainstream of Australian sport in this country.

They need to be as good, or preferably better, than the plastic franchises that have taken their place at the top. God they need to prove that. The FFA Cup was supposed to help them do that but that hasn’t worked out. As good and as necessary as that comp is to have in place, it hasn’t worked out how the old NSL clubs hoped and thought it would - proving them every bit as equal as the plastic franchises. If anything it has made them look smaller. Smaller than they thought they were anyway.

So bring on the P&R. Whatever the fucking cost and cause.

I’ve been pretty unimpressed with the AAFC ‘Championship’ model from the beginning. To me it promises too little on-field - a league nowhere near “promotion-ready”, the step up to A-League seeming aspirational - while expecting financial outlay and ability to attract interest (in particular w.r.t. broadcasting) that would surely require some guarantees about a reasonably imminent path to promotion.

Surely the addition of an open pyramid below it, the risk of relegation into (presumably) state-leagues before promotion even emerges, rules out the ability to attract anywhere near the capital required to bridge the gap between NPL and HAL?

Yeah,… nah… very hard to see it happen at least in my lifetime. Until football becomes the mainstream, P&R seems financially unviable, which means it can’t happen.

  1. A-league licenses are granted for fixed terms in defined areas, so investors and Foxtel get a footprint that they can market to. If an A-league side were to be demoted (or even a chance of being demoted), the licenses become worthless to the investors = less money = crappier teams
  2. Foxtel already whingeing about paying for additional a-league games next season… why would they want to pay more money for a crappier league? If we were in England, had 10x population density than we do now and everyone signed up to cable just to watch their team in the premiership, then maybe; but realistically, how many incremental subscribers will they get from a second division? Without any additional money in the game, how does anything change?
  3. Travel - let alone cost … if a national second division, travel is a big issue, particularly if players are still not 100% pro (and they need to keep their day job)
  4. Support structure - we may be a ‘plastic’ club, but without marketing, kids programs, etc… how does a second division become appealing other than to their fan base of family & friends of 5k people?
  5. How do you even structure a promotion & relegation? Do you have to place restrictions so there is at least a side from each mainland capital? Otherwise In 5 seasons potentially every team would end up being from Melbourne and Sydney - not going to work for Foxtel or the FFA for that matter.

Anyways, could keep writing, but it all ends up ultimately being about more money, which is hard in this massive country with low population density and 3 or 4 sports higher up in the pecking order (taking talent, investors, infrastructure, etc)


I’m going to put a really radical idea out there and I’m expecting to be laughed at, but here goes.

Maybe we don’t need a second division. Maybe what we need is for whoever finishes last in the A-League to go into a two-leg play-off with the winner of their respective NPL division (unless it was a youth team, then it would be the next best team that isn’t a youth team).

So let’s think about the potential scenario if it were to happen this season:

Sydney Olympic vs Central Coast Mariners

Does that really sound so ridiculous? There are some ambitious clubs out there in the NPL. It also has to be built on the premise that if the NPL club wins the play-off and gets promoted, that they must turn professional. You wouldn’t think a sane NPL club with serious ambitions of promotion to the A-League would not have plans in place should they win the play-off.

The only quandary I can think of is if Wellington finishes last in the A-League. Maybe the winner of the NPL Finals get a shot at promotion? Or maybe Wellington would be exempt from relegation somehow. That is quite a difficult one to answer because obviously the New Zealand competition is completely detached from the FFA, so you can’t really use them in a play-off scenario unless some agreement could be reached. If it could, though, I think Auckland City could do with some quality competition. They’ve absolutely smashed the New Zealand competition for years!

I know the NPL effectively plays in the winter, and the play-off would be in late April sometime. They could play out the current NPL season even if they get promoted. Even the NPL National Finals finish before October. It just means if another A-League team from their region is up for relegation in the following season, the second-best in that respective NPL would be the team up for promotion.

What if it works, Sydney Olympic wins in this scenario and actually go on to do a respectable job in the A-League, despite the big step up? That would be pretty good media for them, and proof that the concept can work. And if it continues to work well, why not have a second spot for a relegation play-off?

Like many people, I don’t see the second division taking off unless someone blindly fronts up a huge amount of cash to fund the league. And how long would that last, really? In my opinion, we need to be looking at viable alternatives, while preserving the ability for cities and regions to be represented appropriately.

1 Like

Let the clubs run their second division sustainably as they claim, but any P&R element should most definitely still be a playoff and have certain minimum requirements over stadia / lighting / licence fees to even be eligible for promotion.

Imagine APIA win it and want to host HAL games at a shitheap like Lambert?

Existing franchises need some sort of protection, they WILL be fucked if they go down. But also it puts the ball back in NPL clubs court to see how serious they are. Winning a second string comp shouldn’t result in a back door entry to the HAL which side-steps the requirements of all existing franchises.

It goes without saying that requirements should still need to be met for a promoted club, and for there to be a rather limited time to do so. After all, if you are serious about promotion, plans should already be in place to be in to afford the A-League licence, and to be in a ground of sufficient size and facilities. If APIA wanted to play in the A-League (and yes, Lambert Park does look pretty shit), they’d have to find a different venue if and when they wanted to expand Lambert Park to an acceptable size, and I believe there are precedents for that elsewhere in the world where teams have had to temporarily relocate while their own stadiums were being built or refurbished. Moving a small distance down the road (relatively speaking) on a temporary basis shouldn’t kill their fan base. If it does, I’d question their loyalty.

Very hard to see relegation but having a national HAL2 as the top of the pyramid for NPL sides and the first step for expansion sides makes sense. MLS already there with the USL Championship.

Clubs like Bentleigh Greens, South Melbourne, Adelaide City and Sydney United would make an interesting league and for clubs that are keen they could prove their HAL readiness. HAL2 could also be a total change to the expansion methodology. New regional bids like Wollongong, Canberra and Tassie would all be very doable straight away in HAL2 and if they meet a series of metrics then they can be issued a HAL license. Would enable more Mariners style sides (small areas that can just support a side and add to the league) and we could have given all the decent bids a crack during this round of expansion (Team 11, etc).

Imagine if NQF and GCU had been given HAL2 licenses? They both would have proven they weren’t up to it and would either tick along as HAL2 sides out of smaller grounds or folded with way less damage to the game. Alternatively GCU could have built support to levels that justified Robina.

People like Bosnich whinge but this isn’t England and relegation would massively devalue licenses. Very few sides would survive relegation and I would much rather not have relegation than potentially destroy existing teams. Will also end up in a very Sydney and Melbourne focused league due to concentration of corporate support.

Hopefully would also help with the lack of NPL players making it in HAL. The best NPL sides all have 3 or 4 players who could step up and they would be showcased as well as giving players like Triantis an opportunity to step back up.

Tldr - Imagine of the Tards got relegated.

1 Like

Hopefully the link works… I think the author realises that the options he proposes are hugely convoluted…

That article doesn’t address a fundamental issue.

What exactly is the problem that P&R solves that isn’t present in NRL, AFL, NBL or cricket?

Did I wake up in a bizarro world where the heads of ARL and AFL are growing increasingly concerned that the youth players coming through in Australia are struggling to keep up with the likes of Vietnam and Thailand, due in large part to the lack of opportunities for young Rugby League or AFL players to get regular game-time?

You seriously see no distinctions between the position of football and the positions of NRL and AFL?


So, without being a cunt;

You’re point about promotion and relegation is that without it we suck at youth development?

So, all the great players that the AIS developed was because of P&R?

Check that out. There’s three seasons in there with P&R. 1984,85 & 86. P&R was so successful that they stopped it after three seasons. You did know about that didn’t you?

The best players this country have produced did not come through an NSL that had P&R. So how is P&R going to solve the player development problem?

Mark Viduka won a golden boot as an 18 year old. David Seal won the Golden Boot whilst still at Penrith High. They were good enough and got given their chances. P&R doesn’t make clubs sign and coaches play youth.

England has had P&R since forever and they don’t seem to do too good with youth development.

So, setting aside, for the time being the issue of youth development;

What exactly is the problem that P&R solves that isn’t present in NRL, AFL, NBL or cricket?

1 Like

No, my point - which is the consensus of every single commentator, insiders and outsiders, about the state of Australia’s development - is that we suck at youth development because there is a dearth of opportunities for young players to get game-time.

There is plainly a lack of opportunities for young players in a 10-team (and even 12-team) comp with 3-5 first-Xi foreigners per club, and the level below it is so far off in terms of quality, that NPL barely registers as a pathway for early-20s players to make it as professional footballers.

A second-division of some form - be it an ‘NPL National’ or an ‘A-League 2’ - would play a massive part in bridging that gap, and P&R is one way of getting there.

And clearly, neither AFL nor NRL (which could each field dozens of teams stronger than anyone else in the world in their respective sports) nor NBL (currently fighting for survival) nor cricket (which has long abandoned the domestic game, other than is month-long T20 gimmick) are completely incomparable.

1 Like