Which teams would make the cut in an A-League second division?

Nick Symonds Roar Rookie

By Nick Symonds, Nick Symonds is a Roar Rookie

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    A national second division can be an emotive topic of discussion, especially when it comes to who gets in.

    It isn’t easy to decide which teams should be included and which should be excluded, but someone has to choose. There are a number of interested clubs from the old NSL and a number of bids for new A-League teams, but we can narrow down the eventual makeup of a second division.

    The old NSL comprised 42 clubs from across the country, but most of them would not be eligible for the second division.

    Excluding current A-League teams cuts the list down to 38, a further 11 teams have collapsed and two have merged, leaving 26 eligible entities of the original 42.

    Quality stadiums are important assets for any competition, so a few more teams with substandard grounds lacking TV and corporate facilities will naturally fall by the wayside, reducing the list to 15 clubs.

    A few more clubs will lose out because their regions are already represented or would be represented by an alternative bid: Marconi Stallions and Sydney United are both part of the Fairfield expansion bid, Wollongong Wolves would likewise beat Wollongong Macedonia to the punch, and West Adelaide loses out to Adelaide City.

    All that considered, there are just three old NSL teams eligible for the second division, those being Melbourne Knights, Sydney Olympic and Canberra City, with the latter perhaps merging with W-League team Canberra United.

    A further five teams currently bidding for A-League spots – Wollongong Wolves, Brisbane City, Brisbane Strikers, South Melbourne and Adelaide City – would be similarly eligible.

    To those eight teams you could add those bidding for an A-League franchise, namely Geelong, Sunshine Coast Fire, Southern Sydney, Dandenong, Fremantle, Tasmania and Fairfield, though Tasmania could warrant a Hobart-Launceston derby.

    Similarly, including Wollongong as a separate team will also allow a Sydney southern expansion team to focus on Southern Sydney, which it could call itself, rather than the ill-defined Southern Somethings.

    Finally, there is a third group of bigs that could emerge to fill in the second division, including Townsville Fury, Cairns Heat, Gold Coast United, Campbelltown/Macarthur, South West Melbourne, Hobart, Launceston City and Darwin

    If you add up the NSL teams, current A-League bids and possible A-League bids the theoretical second division comes to 22 teams. When you add that to the current 10 A-League teams, it brings the total to 32 teams across both divisions.

    Trying to pick winners for a second division risks alienating some fans whose clubs could be left out, but I think this list could be agreed upon by most people.

    You only have to look at the list of teams who took part in the NSL to see why it went wrong. Is it any wonder the NSL was such a mess with all those teams?

    People have concerns that a national second division wouldn’t work based on the past, but with a stronger line-up of teams I don’t think that kind of history is likely to repeat itself.

    By taking only the strongest clubs from the NSL and adding them to new teams and bids, you could put together a strong and stable national second division.

    I hope this gives people a better sense of what a national second division might look like and whether or not it would be viable long term.

    The Australian second division
    Adelaide City
    Brisbane City
    Brisbane Strikers
    Cairns Heat
    Campbelltown/Macarthur
    Canberra City
    Dandenong
    Darwin
    Fairfield
    Fremantle
    Geelong
    Gold Coast United
    Hobart
    Launceston City
    Melbourne Knights
    South Melbourne
    South West Melbourne
    Southern Sydney
    Sunshine Coast Fire
    Sydney Olympic
    Townsville Fury
    Wollongong Wolves