Promotion and relegation in the A-League

Midfielder Roar Rookie

By Midfielder, Midfielder is a Roar Rookie

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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.

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    The Crowd Says (48)

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 4:26pm
      Onside said | May 22nd 2018 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

      Just caught this article Mid. It’s down the bottom of the list.

      Everything is achievable given time, but I really wish the
      plans and objectives of FFA were readily available.

      It would make everything so much easier if we knew both
      what were FFA’s objectives, and then, how they planned
      to make them happen.

      In the meantime we are left to second guess FFA’s motives.

      Whats their game plan ?

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 5:20pm
        theBird said | May 22nd 2018 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

        Their game plan is all about their own individual bank accounts.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 6:46pm
          Onside said | May 22nd 2018 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

          I know TB, but hey , it both frustrates and annoys me.

          I wish I could maybe disagree with whatever are FFA’s
          plans ,but I can’t because I have no idea what they are.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 22nd 2018 @ 6:36pm
      Waz said | May 22nd 2018 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

      Well, we already have a second division – it’s called the National Premier Leagues and crowds are growing and viewership on the up thanks to free broadcast platforms like Facebook.

      The gap between NPL and HAL is huge, hence the question, should we have a national second division to help bridge the gap?

      From a player development perspective it’s an absolute must, there aren’t enough playing positions in Australia and the playing standard within State competitions varies from highly competitive to poor – the best teams and the best players nationally would be better off playing each other week in, week out.

      If you dispense with the thinking that football is entertainment, or tv “content” and focus on what is right for the players then a pyramid of leagues with varying ability makes perfect sense. That’s the FIFA way, clubs and players find their own level through ability alone.

      Australia has struggled with Association Football for over a century and the domestic game is again in crisis, logic would say look to the rest of the world and do what they do … not continue with the same insular, “we are unique” statements and thoughts the Australian sporting market is “competitive” – err, have you seen the rest of the world??

      It’s not a short journey, but the seeds have been planted with all States opening up to pro/rel now, the formation of a national second division is next with pro/rel down to state leagues the obvious.

      The question for congress is when does the HAL open up? I’d say in 15-20 years time, not soon enough for many but it’ll pass in a flash – just as the first decade of the HAL did.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:36pm
        Midfielder said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:36pm | ! Report


        I am of the belief as many others are that we should expand to 16 teams within two years and within four years have created a viable second division.

        If we finish up with 32 professional teams within 4 to 5 years that IMO would be an amazing outcome.

        The elephant in the room is IMO getting eyeballs on screens… in numbers were broadcasters will pay much more than they do now… Simply having P & R and workable second division in and of itself will not get tens or hundreds of thousands of extra people to watch.

      • May 23rd 2018 @ 9:40am
        Gdeathe said | May 23rd 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        A national 2nd division is not required to bridge the gap but dramatically increased investment in existing teir and do that by making them high stakes rather than teiring them down. Hypothetically make the A-league a hybrid national league /continental champions league by giving the state champions a spot each in a 8 up/8 down p/r system

        • May 23rd 2018 @ 1:20pm
          MQ said | May 23rd 2018 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          could you explain this a bit more?

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:30pm
      Midfielder said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

      Very busy day only now am free.

      Just a couple of points we should all bear in mind re the funding / money areas.

      Introducing a second division with P & R in time will get investors in. Secondly the State Feds have sizeable revenues and the associations also have decent revenue.

      I have tried to put together something of a revenue analysis of Football.

      By my cals,

      FFA 110 million
      Sate Feds 60 million
      Reg Associations … 100 million, [this figure is so hard to arrive at but it is huge I think more than what I have shown]

      Thats 270 million and we are not counting crowds, club sponsors etc. Assume teh A-League 1.7 million @ $20.00 is another 34 million, and my guess on club sponsorship across the A-League and NPL 20 million.

      All up thats 324 million…. at some point we need to determine if we can spent this better.

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:31pm
      Midfielder said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:31pm | ! Report

      Where is CC

    • May 23rd 2018 @ 8:15am
      Buddy said | May 23rd 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      I would love to see promotion and relegation in my lifetime but have no wish to see any hurried experiment or poorly planned and thought out model that has the potential to take the sport backwards rather than where we collectively wish it to be.
      I keep a regular eye on MLS which is enjoying popularity, expansion and overall growth to the broader footballing community from everything I hear and see. However, it is slow going and they have not yet ventured into relegation / promotion. This may be a cultural issue I accept and the elite models of most US sports appear to suit them so why change? David Beckham is close now to getting his Club together but they have not had an easy passage. It is baby steps all the way and this is a country of 400 million with plenty of potential spectators and people whose backgrounds are far more aligned to football. We have a footballing culture here of playing the game as a recreational activity – fun, friendship and fitness, and by far the largest group of participants in the game have no interest beyond that. It applies to families of junior players and many adult players. I personally do not believe in wasting time and money trying to convert them. They should not be the target. The “gotta have a team” approach strikes a bigger chord though but it needs heroes and role models that are household names for it to be truly successful and that is the hard yards. In the meantime, take the next few steps. Expand, monitor, review and adjust accordingly. We have to be in it for the long haul and it will take great patience combined with dilligence to be really successful with apathy and negativity needing to be kicked out of the door especially at board level.

      • May 23rd 2018 @ 8:37am
        MQ said | May 23rd 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        it’s always interesting to keep an eye on the MLS
        why don’t they have P&R?
        they operate under a franchise system, similar to the A-League, and maybe that sort of system does not suit P&R because prospective clubs are required to make substantial upfront investments to join the party, once you’re in, having paid a lot of money, members are unllkely to create a process which can swiftly boot them out

        • May 23rd 2018 @ 10:47am
          Midfielder said | May 23rd 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          Just on the MLS, this is a mega thread on a USA Football forum about P & R.

          Many of the issues they face are the same as us and my hope is we don’t create an MLS model in Australia.

        • May 23rd 2018 @ 11:03pm
          Buddy said | May 23rd 2018 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

          If you look at sport in the USA across the board all the major sports are run along similar lines with a franchise type of set up. Whilst there is plenty of history there are also instances of owners just packing up and moving towns/cities. The NFL has plenty of examples…Raiders/Rams/Cardinals/Oilers. It must be part of the licensing that allows it. If it were the same here I daresay one of the interested expansion groups would have purchased The Phoenix and just moved them lock stock and barrel.
          However, I digress, the point being that in their sports they do not relegate and promote, but there are enough teams to make it interesting. A season is judged as successful by whether the team wins a conference or makes the play offs and then how far they progress and a season is a failure if they don’t at least make the play offs. It doesn’t matter by how much,although most codes have a draft and the worse you do the better the picks available in the draft. Our biggest issue is population and inability to scale up!

      • May 23rd 2018 @ 10:45am
        Midfielder said | May 23rd 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Could not agree more regarding lets not rush and in doing so stuff it up.

        • May 23rd 2018 @ 6:24pm
          Buddy said | May 23rd 2018 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

          I’d have to say we are closer to the MLS model than anything else. if it costs for a licence to play there needs to be some security and relegation is not a palpable subject. In the EPL they dish out millions in TV revenue and that is based on how many times the team is shown etc…but even when they do get relegated, there is a parachute payment to help pay for players on higher wages etc and it should give the team a better chance of climbing back up again. Can’t see anything like that happening down this way anytime soon.

          • May 23rd 2018 @ 11:07pm
            Midfielder said | May 23rd 2018 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

            Agree and I hope we don’t finish up with the MLS model

    • May 23rd 2018 @ 3:29pm
      Dart said | May 23rd 2018 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

      I think the second division should start small – say 6 teams playing 10 rounds during the peak of the summer holiday period (Nov-Jan). This would give the most viable clubs an extra ten games per year (in addition to also competing in the NPL during winter) to move towards professionalism. The A-league would already be well underway, so it would add interest halfway through the season, and bring in new markets that are not represented.

      The B-League could look something like this:
      Gold Coast United
      South Melbourne
      Sutherland Shire
      Wollongong Wolves

      • May 23rd 2018 @ 4:27pm
        Dart said | May 23rd 2018 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

        I also think you can have a big third division – 16, 32 or 64 teams – if that division had a cup structure rather than a league structure. That is only 4, 5 or 6 rounds depending on how many teams. Plus half the teams would get knocked out each round. Of course, it wouldn’t be professional at this level, but it would give pathways to new teams.

        I am just suggesting something different. Personally, the idea of a sixteen team second flight doesn’t seem that interesting to me. Protracted and drawn-out seasons (30 rounds), vast differences between the top teams and bottom teams (1st are going to be so much better than 16th), not much at stake each round (three points is more important in a 10 round competition than in a 30 round competition).

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