A blueprint for the introduction of a national second tier football competition for men and women was released today by the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC).
Dubbed ‘The Championship’, AAFC proposes 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.
Chairman Rabieh Krayem said that the AAFC believes a national second division 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.
“Second, as a football nation, we’re not fulfilling the membership requirements of either FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation by not having promotion and relegation in place. A national second division is a pre-requisite of that.
“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’, increase interest and attract investment,” Krayem said.
Participating clubs will be required to have a boutique stadium with capacity for 3,000 people as well as a capacity to meet an annual budget of $2.5 million, which includes an annual license fee of $150,000.
The AAFC places a heavy emphasis on promoting young, local talent with at least half of the 20-person squad to be aged 25 or under, and a maximum of two visa players drawn from either the Asian or Oceania football confederations.
AAFC also intends seeking agreement from the AFC for the winner of The Championship to be granted a place in the Asian Champions League.
Krayem said the AAFC will call for expressions of interest from clubs or consortia interested in participating in The Championship in December, with bids to close in May next year.
The bids will be independently assessed by Nous Group*, with successful bids announced in October 2018.
“We’re delighted to have Nous Group on board as an independent arbiter in shaping and assessing the composition of The Championship.
“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,” Krayem said.
“Football has made giant strides in the past 15 years or so, particularly in participation, but a vital factor for the growth, success and sustainability is the quality and competitiveness of the football on offer.
“This isn’t about 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.
“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 extraordinary potential.”
For further information on The Championship including the process and timeline for consultation, expressions of interests, bids and implementation, visit www.thechampionship.com.au