Expanding the A-League to 20 teams via a probation league

Wayne Roar Guru

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    The A-League will expand the number of teams in the competition eventually. But instead of just inserting a new team, perhaps they can take a slow and steady approach, building the support before sending them to the big lights.

    I am approaching this article with the idea of ten teams entering the A-League in the 2021-22 season.

    Starting in 2018-19, a new competition will be created with the ten new teams, from Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Wollongong, Geelong, Townsville, two from Tasmania, and two more from the NPL (either from Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane).

    From 2018-19 through to the end of 2020-21, they will play in parallel to the A-League, with no cross contamination. This is to prove that the clubs are financially viable and have sound business practices and management without requiring marquee matches with the A-League teams. Essentially, it’s a probation period.

    Switching back to the choices of teams, the Perth and Adelaide teams strengthen football’s foothold in Western and South Australia, without trying to get too fancy by putting the extras in regional areas.

    Canberra, Townsville and Geelong are essentially regional centres that can support a team from the grassroots up. Wollongong probably should already have a team, and two more from the NPL have pre-existing support.

    Tasmania getting two new teams is a bit of a stretch, even by the fantasy article standards, but AFL continues to squander the Apple Isle, NRL and rugby have no presence at all, and cricket is hit and miss. Fruit for the picking if it can do it well.

    After the 2020-21 season finishes, the teams in this league would then transition to the A-League and this competition would be dissolved.

    Looking at the negatives, sponsorship will be difficult to establish in a new competition full of unknowns, likely without a broadcast deal. The initial start up costs would be large, with no guarantee of success. Plus it is still an Australia-wide competition, which means hefty travel expenses.

    The other issue is stadiums, especially given that this competition would be run at the same time as the A-League without leveraging that competition. A thousand people at Suncorp or Allianz is a fast way to burn money.

    The teams would need to play out of their regional stadiums, accepting that crowd numbers will have hard caps and be more intimate. This can also be seen as a positive, as it creates a sense of community.

    The main thought behind this idea was how to decide which teams should go into the league, are they finically viable, and is there the community support?

    How would you approach expansion?

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