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Today is a big day for football! 

The Association of Australian Football Clubs has revealed its preferred model for a national second division competition for men and women, which we're calling 'The Championship'. Within the AAFC Board, we reckon it's a small step for clubs but a giant leap for football. 

For those of you who have been following AAFC since its inception in March, the establishment of a national second division with eventual implementation of promotion and relegation both ways is one of our priorities. Over the past seven months, we have consulted with the A-League clubs, the PFA, most of the state federations, our own member clubs and we've heard from many interested individuals, to come up with what we see as the preferred model. 

We're proposing that the competition be aligned with the A-League season commencing in 2019-20 with promotion and relegation to be phased in over five seasons starting in 2024. 

At AAFC we believe this is necessary for three reasons.

First, we need it from a football perspective. The best way to improve the quality of football and our international competitiveness is to give young players more, and higher standard, game time. That's a no-brainer. I'm not a traditional 'football person' but everyone I talk to who is - from our Board members such as Gary Marocchi and Dean Hennessey to former players such as Mark Bosnich, Craig Foster, Robbie Middleby, Ian Ferguson, Frank Farina and others - say that the more game time for young players, the better the quality of the football. 

Second, as a football nation, we’re not fulfilling the membership requirements of either FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) by not having promotion and relegation in place. It's a sore point with both organisations, and one that holds us back. We are one of only two major leagues in the world that has a closed league. A national second division is a pre-requisite of promotion and relegation, and we need it to mature as a football nation. 

Third, we believe it’s necessary to have this extra level of national competition in place to help bring life back into the football ‘market’ for the benefit of players, sponsors, broadcasters and, importantly, fans. Like the A-League clubs, we have great confidence in the game and think what it needs to grow, thrive and survive is increased investment. 

We've set up a website which takes you through the preferred model and which has some questions and answers about the key features of the model. Some of the highlights include:

  • participating clubs will be required to have a boutique stadium with capacity for 3,000 people
  • they will need to have a capacity to meet an annual budget of $2.5 million, which includes an annual license fee of $150,000
  • we're placing emphasis on promoting young, local talent with a requiremente for at least half of the 20-person squad to be 25 years or under - and remember, this is for men AND women
  • a maximum of two visa players, drawn from either the Asian or Oceania football confederations
  • seeking agreement from the AFC for the winner of The Championship to be granted a place in the Asian Champions League. 

You can read more here, as well as find out how to provide feedback on the model. 

Importantly, the entire process is hands-free from the AAFC Board. We've got on board the Nous Group as an independent arbiter. They will assess the initial expressions of interest, they will draft the Bid documentation, and they will assess the bids.

We've learned from the experience of how World Cup bids have been conducted. We want this to be a competitive process, but also one where the football community can be confident that it is fair, evidence-based and decided on merit.

Lastly, I want to emphasise that this isn't a breakaway organisation or league. We want to work with all stakeholders to help achieve the Whole of Football Plan and to help realise the goal of being the biggest and most successful sport in the country.

We reckon football can do it. And we're aiming to make sure that The Championship will contribute to making the football ecosystem bigger and better for everyone, and lay the groundwork for helping players, clubs and the code reach its potential.

At the AAFC, we're excited! We hope you are too. 


For further information on The Championship including the process and timeline for consultation, expressions of interests, bids and implementation, visit www.thechampionship.com.au


Categories: News | Football Business

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