Promotion and relegation in the A-League

Midfielder Roar Rookie

By Midfielder, Midfielder is a Roar Rookie

 , ,

48 Have your say

    Out in the football world there is a belief among some folk that a second division with promotion and relegation will fix all our ills.

    They think it is so easy to do and will have such an immediate impact its pure madness not to implement immediately.

    Let me be clear from the outset. I want an independently run league, with a 16-team first division, a 16-team second division and promotion and relegation between them.

    The elephant in the room is money and competition for ratings along with government and business influence. Australia’s sporting market is relatively small, in a world sense, and we have a society addicted to four different codes. This is unlike almost every other country.

    This does not make us unique but it is certainly not inconsequential either. Money, players, media attention, political influence is spilt helter skelter across four professional codes. The dominant codes have a north-south divide and we can add a dash of ethnic division as well.

    Melbourne City fans

    City fans wave their flags and scarves (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    No code will sit by and watch other codes try and expand without reacting as it would see them become less profitable, less part of the sporting culture and represent a loss of vested interest.

    We have many examples in recent years. When football started to get free space and to expand, suddenly cricket introduced the Big Bash, we had AFLX, AFL Women’s, rugby league’s Oceania Test series, netball, a re-jigged basketball season, and increase in the Spring Carnival in racing.

    Does this mean we should not introduce a second division and promotion and relegation? No. What it does mean is we need to plan and not set overly ambitious targets, nor set impossible-to-achieve goals.

    The mere introduction of promotion and relegation will not in and of itself get all the children to join hands and sing the football song. What it will do is get football people to invest in growing and developing lower level teams.

    Will promotion and relegation unite the football world? This is also a mute question. There are some folk who will still only watch top European leagues. Will these folk jump on board because of promotion and relegation? I honestly don’t know, but they are likely not to.

    Australia has today nine professional sides, with another 15 sides bidding to join the A-League. If we jump to 32 teams, 16 in each division it means effectively growing from 9 to 32 teams – an extra 23 teams. That’s a huge growth rate, 23 over nine as a percentage is 256 per cent increase.

    Expansion without due diligence is asking for failure. What we need is create an unbiased system of team selection that sets criteria that will enable a period of financial support, spread Australia wide.

    I think finding the 32 teams will not be hard and with some effort getting an Australia-wide presence is very achievable. Nor will it be difficult to find the backers as long as there is opportunity to become a Div 1 side.

    What will be difficult is getting broadcasters on side.

    Most difficult will be engaging with fans and convincing them to switch or start watching the A-League. This needs a change in social behaviour by tens if not hundreds of thousands of people and that is no easy task.

    However it’s not doom and gloom. It fact is very achievable – especially if it is aligned with the esports launch, and astute marketing.

    A second division and promotion and relegation is very possible, but by no means easy and will require a lot of work. It will take some time to gain acceptance by both the public and broadcasters.

    So let’s open up the discussion, not should we introduce a second division, but how. We need to determine what is a realistic time frame.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (48)

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:14am
      Fadida said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      I’m still waiting for someone to show me how the finances will work Mid

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:41pm
        Midfielder said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:41pm | ! Report

        If a model is created correctly investors will fund the second division to start with… An extra 3 games to broadcast will bring in revenue all of which can be given to the clubs as FFA have already covered their operating budget out of the existing deal.

      • May 25th 2018 @ 6:01pm
        FortheCAFF said | May 25th 2018 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

        I’d say the only way this is possible is if the salary cap was removed and the league was opened up to investment

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:41am
      MQ said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      we got 9 oz teams, we got 15 bids, that’s 24 teams in total, so two divisions of 12 teams is a no brainer

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:43pm
        pete4 said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:43pm | ! Report

        Absolutely agree the A-League should 1 day comprise of 24 clubs:

        A-League = 12 clubs
        A-League2 = 12 clubs

        Wooden spoon = relegation. A-League2 GF and NPL GF winners promoted

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 9:13am
      Nick Symonds said | May 22nd 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      “When football started to get free space and to expand, suddenly cricket introduced the Big Bash, we had AFLX, AFL Women’s, rugby league’s Oceania Test series, netball, a re-jigged basketball season, and increase in the Spring Carnival in racing.”

      Phil Gould unleashes on NRL

      The refereeing has been a hot topic all season with the number of penalties going through the roof and the amount of sin bins after 11 rounds already surpassing the total figure from last season.

      “The refereeing is a farce, (NRL CEO) Todd Greenberg is a farce … and it’s destroying the game. Our game is going exactly the same way rugby went.

      “Rugby is now nondescript in Australia — no one can watch it, no one supports it and I’m telling you that’s what they’re doing with the NRL.”

      So that’s one less code to deal with, especially when its own commentators start comparing it to union.

      AFLW? Woefully poor standard, even by AR standards.

      AFLX? Going nowhere slowly.

      Basketball? Overshadowed by the NBA.

      BBL? Short season and long term issues of its own.

      Spring Racing Carnival? The Greens will soon take care of that one.

      Super Netball? Twice the TV viewership of Super Rugby. Look out!

      Every code has issues…

      But watch out if a mens netball league gets going!

      • Roar Rookie

        May 22nd 2018 @ 10:20am
        At work said | May 22nd 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        I dont understand why the NRL don’t take away Gus’ media pass, the way he puts down the game that feeds him at every chance is astonishing.
        Let’s hope the A League doesn’t create a similar beast in future.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:42pm
          Midfielder said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:42pm | ! Report

          We have many believe me.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 10:27am
        i miss the force said | May 22nd 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        completely useless post as usual. you think its news that a NRL commentator makes negative remarks?

        • May 23rd 2018 @ 6:09pm
          brian drian said | May 23rd 2018 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

          no, great post as usual. thanks mid.
          i you dont like football, go play on the rugby tabs.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 22nd 2018 @ 10:18am
      At work said | May 22nd 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      Mid I think if we’re to ever create a 2nd division and link it with the A League then the 2nd division needs to be operating in independence first, in terms of financing, TV coverage and moderate support.

      Once we get adequate build up of the Div 2 then it could be time to link via pro/rel.
      That way it would not be seen as a death knell to be relegated to div 2.

      I have no concern about player depth, as the overall quality will increase and become more aligned between divisions, with the exceptions of VISA players that div 2 clubs wouldn’t afford.

      32 teams is adventurous, but also an exciting prospect.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 12:48pm
        MQ said | May 22nd 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

        This article in the Financial Review explains that expansion will be funded by Foxtel, so I don’t think there is a money issue

        the debate should not be about whether we can afford a 2nd division, we should be working out how we can pay for a national 3rd division, so that we have four tiers of promotion and relagation

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 3:53pm
          Fadida said | May 22nd 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

          I like your optimism but until a second division is running properly a third is pure fantasy. A 4th?!

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 3:58pm
          Mark said | May 22nd 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

          Spain does not operate three tiers of national leagues, despite them having a vastly superior (in terms of numbers and quality) player pool and much smaller travel costs than those faced here.

          It’s just not necessary.

          • May 22nd 2018 @ 7:01pm
            MQ said | May 22nd 2018 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

            what you say about Spain doesn’t sound right.

            They have the Segunda División (2nd division), and then below that they have the Segunda División B, which has four groups of 20 teams, with the best two (across the 80 teams) being able to get promoted to the Segunda División.

            Below the Segunda División B there’s the Tercera Division (3rd division, effectively the 4th tier), and then there are multiple tiers below that.

            • May 23rd 2018 @ 9:03am
              Mark said | May 23rd 2018 @ 9:03am | ! Report

              Saying the Segunda B and Tercera are national leagues is the equivalent of saying the ‘National Premier Leagues’ are a national league.

              They are branded as a single division and there is promotion and relegation between them, but within the divisions there are multiple groups, as you point out, with teams grouped on a regional basis.

              • May 23rd 2018 @ 9:51am
                MQ said | May 23rd 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                But the point remains that you have P&R between the 2nd and 3rd tiers.

                Yes, you are right that we could make the NPL the equivalent of the Segunda B, effectively the 3rd tier with P&R to the yet to be established national 2nd tier.

              • May 23rd 2018 @ 2:20pm
                Midfielder said | May 23rd 2018 @ 2:20pm | ! Report


                I think for the foreseeable future two divisions with P & R is what we could reasonably sustain.

      • May 25th 2018 @ 6:06pm
        FortheCAFF said | May 25th 2018 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

        I’d argue that Div 2 teams could absolutely attract VISA players. Even SE Asian leagues in countries with lower living standards and worse wages on offer can, so I see no reason why not. The second tier is an exciting prospect but I don’t see anything that radical happening in the next 20 years unless the A-League becomes independent from the FFA.

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 3:05pm
      theBird said | May 22nd 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

      No point on adding a second division to already broken system.

      I think most that are advocating for pro & rel also want the a-league to be open to all, not restricted by the FFA with their ridiculous restrictions and ideas to make sokkah more appealing to Shazza and Wazza from Essendon.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 3:12pm
        MQ said | May 22nd 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

        don’t you want Shazza to follow the sokkah?

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 3:42pm
          theBird said | May 22nd 2018 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

          I don’t care who follows. Everyone is welcome, although there is no point in trying to appease those who ridicule and hate our game.

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 4:02pm
      Kangajets said | May 22nd 2018 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

      I want more teams , but I don’t want relegation ever

      I like the idea of overlapping north / south conferences with finals at the Nd

      Relegation and spending to avoid relegation is fraught with danger

      We don’t have the the wealth in Australia to finance second division teams

    , ,