Date added: Jan. 26, 2021
Establishment of a national second division (NSD) competition is affordable and feasible according to a progress report released today by the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC).
The progress report, entitled Reshaping Australian Footballs National Second Tier, states that the annual cost of running a NSD is estimated at up to $3.3 million. This includes centralised travel costs, but excludes any potential revenue from an anticipated OTT streaming solution, broadcasting and gaming data, and player transfers.
In addition to the club participation fee of $200,000 per season, it is estimated that each club would require an annual budget of between $850,000 and $1.6 million something that the 32 Partner Clubs involved in the interim report view as eminently achievable.
Under current arrangements, the clubs taking part in the state or regional-based National Premier Leagues require up to $900,000 per season to take part in their competition, depending on their location and the size of the competition.
Significantly, most clubs already operate numerous teams and have activities and facilities in place and do not require significant, additional infrastructure expenditure.
The single biggest cost to run the competition is travel, and the interim report sets out detailed analysis of the costs involved and how these can be met.
The report notes that Clubs have expressed confidence they can generate additional revenue, especially for the commencement and establishment phases. Principally, this is from being able to offer to sponsors, supporters, and members a new, more exciting product.
AAFC believes that a NSD is critical to a re-set of football in Australia because it would provide motivation and inspiration to genuine community clubs to aspire to the highest level of competition possible.
The progress report refers to sentiments expressed by former English Premier League supremo and Advisor to the A-League clubs, Richard Scudamore, that there is nothing as strong in building football culture as home grown loyalty.
Football clubs have been in Australia since the 1880s and have been built by people from all parts of the world who have all culturally enriched our country, the progress report states.
It is the continuation of these clubs - as strong, vital and ambitious football clubs - which is critical to the development and organic growth of our game.
The progress report makes it clear that many of the clubs which form the state-based competition structure have had burdens and restrictions imposed on them which limit their potential, to the detriment of the whole game.
AAFC believes it is time for a merit-based competition structure to be introduced as meritocracy is both the Australian way and occurs in most football competitions around the world.
The interim report, which has been funded by 32 Partner Clubs from around the country with financial analysis undertaken by MI Associates, sets out a timeframe and key performance measures for operation of a NSD that would see the competition commence in 2022, and a womens NSD introduced by 2025.
Key features of a proposed NSD are:
- A single national competition comprising 12 teams from the outset but expanding to 16 teams as soon as possible, and preferably within the first four years;
- All participating clubs must have grounds that can accommodate a minimum of 3,000 fans;
- Teams to be included based on meeting stringent criteria as the basis for entry, followed by promotion and relegation from lower tiers. There are ten criteria to be met including in the areas of youth development, coaching standards, finance and facilities;
- A $200,000 participation fee from each club;
- A requirement for participating clubs to have a comprehensive womens programme in place as a pre-requisite for participation in the NSD;
- No preference for a winter or summer season, but alignment with the Whole of Football calendar; and
- Establishment of a Womens Football, Marketing, and Youth and Coach Development Steering Committees.
It is proposed that the NSD would be overseen by an Advisory Board comprising members of Football Australia and AAFC, supported by the steering committees.
The next steps involve consultation with key stakeholders in football, principally Football Australia, the state and regional-based member federations, the A-League clubs and other football stakeholders before finalising the report by Easter for presentation to the Football Australia Board.