Promotion, relegation system is a pipe-dream

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    There has been a lot of discussion on The Roar about the prospect of Football Federation Australia (FFA) introducing a national second division in the future.

    One article even debated whether this national second division should be called the B-League or A2-League.

    But a lot of discussion has overlooked the fact that Australia simply can’t support two professional national football competitions with promotion and relegation.

    Supporters of promotion-relegation will say Holland, a country with about the same population as Australia, can support it, so why can’t we?

    But football is the number one game in the Netherlands.

    Australia already has 37 professional football clubs in other codes (rugby league, rugby union and Australian Rules), so the supporter base is already stretched.

    Also, traveling across Holland for an away game is a lot easier than going from Perth to Townsville.

    A-League clubs are still trying to build up supporter bases and have discovered over the past few seasons that a big fan base doesn’t appear overnight.

    How would a team like North Queensland, or Newcastle, or even Sydney FC for that matter, survive if they were relegated to a second division?

    All of a sudden the club would get little to no media coverage, meaning the public would be even less informed about when games are on.

    Virtually the whole playing roster would want to leave and play for a club in the top division.

    Sponsors would want out because games would no longer be shown on television.

    And in their place in the top division could be South Melbourne or Sydney United.

    Just how a current state league team would be able to afford life in the A-League is unknown.

    Traveling to away games is all well and good for NSW Premier League clubs at the moment, but how would they go traveling to Perth or Wellington or Townsville a couple of times a year?

    The FFA needs to ensure the A-League’s survival – first and foremost.

    Let’s get a viable 12-team competition going for at least 10 or so years before we even consider further expansion. As for promotion and relegation, it is just a pipe-dream.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • November 4th 2010 @ 7:04am
      Victer said | November 4th 2010 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      Alleluia! Finally someone who lives in the real world. We don’t have to follow everything that Europe does.

      • November 5th 2010 @ 2:37am
        Tortion said | November 5th 2010 @ 2:37am | ! Report

        I never understood the need for a Cup. It seems antiquated even in countries like England.

    • November 4th 2010 @ 7:08am
      Aka said | November 4th 2010 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Oly09 I think your expectation, and many others is that a team in the second tier will cost just as much to run as a team in the top division and that they will have to foot all the costs themselves.

      The way I see it happening is that the A-league governing body will fund a large portion of the costs of the A2 league costs such as travel and maybe some of the salary cap to ensure a base playing standard. Of course this isn’t going to happen for some time. the A-league will need a significant revenue boost (TV rights?) to be able to afford it.

      But if it has funding for the W-league and NYL then I don’t see the A2 being too much different from that. And that to me demonstrates that it is certainly doable.

      Now the prize for earning promotion needs to be a significant cash injection to get the playing group up to the standard of the A-league and you’d expect the A-league clubs to be getting a bigger slice of the TV rights money so they can make a fist of staying up.

      For the team that goes down then of course it’s going to mean a huge cost restructure in the club. But your going to turn over your manager and high cost players anyway cos they haven’t performed or will not want to play in A2.

      There will be a big class difference in the leagues. It’ll be catastrophic for a club to get relegated. And it will be a battle for a club that gets promoted to stay up. But isn’t that the case everywhere?

      Of course when a club goes down it’s going to lose supporters. But I see the A2 league made up of club from regional areas that are likely to keep a couple of thousand rusted on supporters and the stronger state league clubs.

      When all is said and done we already have a second tier comp in the state leagues. They just don’t have the travel costs to deal with and they need funding to get the players to full professional, or close to it.

      So the keys to me are that the clubs won’t have to fund all the costs themselves and that the costs of being in the A2 league will be lower anyway so they will be able to survive on the much lower supporter base.

      • November 4th 2010 @ 11:53am
        Whites said | November 4th 2010 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        The NYL and the W-League also exist because they do or had a level of government funding. This is because there is government support for different youth and women’s sport that are not necessarily commercially viable.

        With regards to a second division my fear is that the FFA will impose one in the next few years without it being a viable standalone self funding prospect. As I have posted in other threads it needs to be an organic league that comes out of a re-structure of the existing state leagues. It should only come into existence once certain targets for each state league have been met. These might include total club revenue, membership numbers, crowd attendance, stadium quality, a mix of capital city and regional clubs etc.

        Lets take NSW as an example. Firstly NSW, Northern NSW and the ACT should all be merged into 1 association. Currently the NSW PL has 11 metro teams and 1 regional(South Coast Wolves-the current incarnation of 2 time NSL champions the Wollongong Wolves). The 2nd division, NSW super league, is also 11 metro and 1 regional(Central Coast). The NSW state leagues, division 1 and 2, are also 90% metro teams. As you can see this is very Sydney centric. There are 15 towns/cities across NSW/ACT with populations greater then 30,000. Ranging from Lismore up to Wollongong, Central Coast, Newcastle, Canberra and Sydney. The top 2-3 divisions should have at least 25% of teams from a regional area. Or to make travel easier there could be beneath the Premier League Southern Conference and a Northern Conference.

        Until the state leagues are made more inclusive there shouldn’t be any move towards a 2nd division.

    • November 4th 2010 @ 8:25am
      Michael said | November 4th 2010 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      While I read Aka’s post I can’t agree with the his views on the viability of the A2 league I think that the only reason why the NYL and W-League is due to funding increases. A relegation/ demotion system can only work when you have enough support for the teams that it doesn’t matter that much. Maybe when we have enough support for 20 teams we can look at having 2 divisions that play each other over the year but until then we’re limited geographically.

      Maybe it’s time to look at the top tier state leagues and to make Top grade competitions there. The VPL and NSWPL are still filled with the NSL teams that the a-league forgot but it’s best to clean up the whole competition. The administration and organisation need to start thinking bigger having specific grounds that are rated and having a media outlet either broadcasting a game or highlights every week.

    • November 4th 2010 @ 8:26am
      Football said | November 4th 2010 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      We already have promotion & relegation in the NSWPL (across three tiers) & these clubs have been dealing with being relegated for decades & all the issues raised above. These clubs are already semi proffessional & have youth structures in place. The difference is the travel costs which will need to be funded by FFA.
      This is not about copying Europe, promotion & relegation increases the standard and rewards good football & the production of quality players.

    • November 4th 2010 @ 9:13am
      LT80 said | November 4th 2010 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      People tend to overstate the problem of travelling costs in running any sort of second-tier competition. The standard response that opponents of second-divisions in any sport is oftne something like “we can’t afford to have these 2nd division sides flying all over the country”.

      Well, here’s a newsflash…it’s happening already in other codes. The Queensland Cup rugby league comp has teams from Cairns to Tweed Heads playing in it. The NSW Cup has a team from Auckland. These clubs manage to survive.

      Travel costs are definitely something to consider, but it’s not as big a problem as people seem to make out.

    • November 4th 2010 @ 9:55am
      Axel V said | November 4th 2010 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Imagine a team that gets 20,000 average at their home games gets relegated and a team that gets 1000 at their home games gets promoted, what a disaster that would be. The depth in Australian soccer is nothing like it is in Europe, we can’t support a promotion/relegation system. We are Australia, not Europe.

      • November 4th 2010 @ 11:23am
        Aka said | November 4th 2010 @ 11:23am | ! Report

        Why would that be a disaster? Do you assume no extra supporters for the promoted team and the relegated team losing most of it’s supporters?

        TV money is going to pay for it not attendance money.

        And if a team that is playing so bad that it gets relegated is still managing average 20k per game then they are likely to get good attendances in the A2

        • November 4th 2010 @ 1:49pm
          Axel V said | November 4th 2010 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          I assume that support doesn’t spring out of thin air. And that a big club would not enjoy attending local league matches as punishment and losing millions in the process. Otherwise South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights would still be drawing 13,000 and 6,000 per match respectively

          It’s not good for our game.

          What is better for Australian football, more clubs like Gold Coast or more clubs like Melbourne Victory and Adelaide?

          • November 5th 2010 @ 6:56am
            Aka said | November 5th 2010 @ 6:56am | ! Report

            What is better for Australian football would be more clubs. Clubs like Geelong, Canberra, Tasmania and wollongong and for South Melbourne to have the chance to draw 13k again. Imagine Gold Coast relegated and South Melbourne promoted?

            I agree with you that a scenario where the most supported club goes down and a smaller club goes up is going to result in a temporary net loss in attendance but that would be temporary and overall I think an A2 would result in higher attendances over time.

      • November 5th 2010 @ 1:57pm
        Stevo said | November 5th 2010 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

        AGREE 100%. A P&R system at this stage is pie-in-the-sky stuff. If it was such as great thing as is promoted by some people then the crafty souls at AFL HQ would have done it already. What the AFL knows is the health of teams is based on a strong and large paying supporter base. You start tampering with supporters they’ll leave you in droves and your income base shrinks. What we need is a strong and financially viable top league first. Half baked dreams come second.

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