This year shapes as critical in football’s future. FFA signed 20-year agreements with all nine Australian A-League clubs in 2014, giving the owners a 20-year license, providing security and stability, thus making the owners more likely to invest in their clubs long-term.
With that in mind, relegation from the A-League is not on the cards until at least 2034, unless the FFA wants a heap of potential lawsuits on their doorsteps.
However, promotion from a new and yet-to-be-formed national second division is still possible and would add variety to the ten-team A-League setup.
Let’s say we setup a national second division by 2018 or 2019. We could then have a playoff every two years, starting from 2020, where the winners of the second division could fight it out for a spot in the A-League.
Fast forward to 2034 and we’d have 16 Australian clubs in the top competition (sorry Wellington, but you’ve gotta go!). This would have seen a brand new entrant into the A-League every second year since 2020 to keep things fresh and exciting, while giving more local coaches and players a career.
By 2034 we would’ve had promotion for 14 years, and from that season onwards, we’d also have relegation, where the bottom two clubs in the top tier drop to the second division, with the top two clubs in the second tier getting promoted.
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Sure the A-League would have an odd number of teams every second year, but this way the ‘A-League promotion playoff’ can also have a huge build-up every couple of years – it’s all part of building the football pyramid.
By then we’ll have two, 16-team competitions, with full promotion and relegation, an FFA Cup without the need for a rigged draw, as the gap between divisions would’ve narrowed even further, and the A-League sides enter the comp earlier on. We’ll have 30-game seasons, international breaks, 30-man squads, 3+1 visa spots, and every club in the top tier would have a mandatory academy and training base for both girls and boys teams from under 6s all the way to senior football.
While this happens, TV rights in the game will have boomed, and Australia will have become viable to players from all over the world, all the while giving our youngsters more opportunities, which can only help our nations teams with greater depth and quality.
This can become a reality with proper management and planning. Steven Lowy is right when he says that we can help shape the future of the game in this country with the decisions we make in the next 12 months. Let’s hope they make the correct ones.
The opportunities are massive, we just need everyone in the game to realise it, be bold and go for it! If we can sort out these present issues, the game’s future could be great.