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Eight semi-professional clubs are one step closer to a place in the A-League Men’s competition after Football Australia announced the make-up of a national second division starting in 2025.
The new league will consist of at least 10 teams and eight foundation participants were named on Monday – former National Soccer League clubs South Melbourne, Preston Lions, Sydney Olympic, Sydney United, Marconi Stallions, Wollongong Wolves and New South Wales premiers APIA Leichhardt, join Avondale, who won the Victorian state title for the first time in September.
Between two and four additional teams will be selected early next year “as part of refined application process”, according to FA. The clubs will form part of the new tier, and promotion and relegation from the A-League Men has been flagged at some point in the future.
FA chief executive James Johnson said the foundation of the second tier was “a transformative step for Australian football”.
“Each club demonstrated not only their readiness in terms of operational and commercial elements but also their alignment with the strategic objectives of Australian football,” Johnson said.
After 32 clubs initially expressed an interest, 26 were part of the request for proposal phase. An assessment and review phase produced the list of eight foundation clubs. FA said it wanted a “sustainable and diverse” composition of clubs for the competition’s first season.
The foundation clubs will leave their state competitions in order to compete in the new tier, which will run across the winter months starting in March or April 2025. They will compete in their state competitions next year.
Johnson said the goal of the league was to encourage grassroots football. “It’s really to ensure that clubs like these eight are able to grow and don’t have a glass ceiling over their head,” he said.
Promotion and relegation with the A-League Men is not a conversation FA wants to have immediately, and Johnson said it was important to look at the football pyramid more broadly. The operator of the A-Leagues, APL, and the clubs will be involved in those discussions.
“While we may not connect the second tier to the elite immediately, what is important is for clubs that would like to hold on to players, sign contracts for longer periods – which means an increase in value of the transfer value of the squad – there may be ways to align through transfer windows so the players can effectively make loans between two tiers,” Johnson said.
While the competition is initially a men’s competition, Johnson said he wants to eventually expand it to the women’s game. He said hoped a “champions league” of the country’s best women’s clubs would be introduced at the end of the winter season in 2025.
Sydney United, one of foundation clubs, was sanctioned by FA last year for “deeply offensive” fan behaviour. FA head of competitions, Natalie Lutz, said all clubs must comply with standards before the competition begins. “If they have fulfilled those those criteria, then they will be ready and able to join the second tier in 2025,” she said.
FA had hoped to launch the competition in 2024, but announced earlier this month that it would be pushed back to 2025 in order for the teams to prepare for the additional requirements involved in the competition.
The new competition will form part of FA’s broadcast rights bundle which includes the Women’s World Cup in 2027, Asian Cup competitions, the Australia Cup and international friendlies. The rights tender process concludes in December, when Johnson said he was expecting a “record financial deal”.
He noted there is some risk to FA in establishing the new competition. Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets in the A-League remain without long-term owners, and the second division clubs will be required to meet higher costs in order to participate.
“Whenever you introduce a new mechanism or initiative in any business, there is a level of risk,” Johnson said. “Our risk in this case is calculated.”
We update regularly World Latest Breaking Business News here. We update 2023-11-20 07:01:11 this news story from official website – https://www.theguardian.com/football/2023/nov/20/football-australia-national-second-division-clubs-eight.”
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