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Australia is quite an adept country when it comes to sport. In many ways, we could be viewed as punching above our weight.
A country of 25 million people who regularly compete on the world stage in most events.
In the 2016 Olympics, Australia finished tenth overall on the medal table, and in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, had more gold medals than the next two countries (England and India) combined.
Unfortunately, Australian football is yet to come around like the rest of the world.
Australia, India, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and the Philippines are a few countries that do not have promotion and relegation in their domestic football leagues and it does not appear to be coming anytime soon.
However,there are a number of benefits to having a system with promotion and relegation.
1. Growth and opportunity in grassroots football
Thanks to the Socceroos, football in Australia has had significant growth throughout the years. However, because of the small number of clubs in the top flight, it’s difficult for that growth to have any great benefit to the league.
It also limits possibilities of playing professionally without having to move abroad and there isn’t much of a plan b.
Unlike Europe or South America, in Australia you can’t ‘work your way up’ with a lower-division club or youth team. You either get noticed and make an A-League club, or go abroad.
What else grows is grassroots clubs in areas all throughout the country. Rather than creating or expanding the league in the capital cities, which already dominate the majority of the league, clubs who already exist – whether in the suburbs or a rural area – can reap the benefits of an expanded format for all football teams, not a select few.
Almost anywhere you look in the world, a promoted team receives a boost in revenue, membership and support. It’s no real surprise either, as higher level players, teams and competition are going to interest more people.
Promotion and relegation creates a significant incentive for the A-League. Local rivalries are worth more than made up ones. But playing at a higher level of quality and competition is an even bigger driver of profit, as it has the same effect for the teams already in the top division.
A team in the top flight will instantly have their value boosted as there is a possible risk of being relegated.
3. More competition
One of the biggest incentives for the FFA to implement promotion and relegation is the new competition.
Since being in Asia, Australia has won the AFC Champions League once. Adelaide United, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have all made valiant efforts in their Champions League campaigns, but nothing has come of it. Japan and South Korea, on the other hand, have nine wins between them.
Many clubs from the NPL have achieved a small taste of the big leagues, thanks to the FFA Cup, but more than a play-off tournament played once a year is required to brighten things up for the lower divisions.
Promotion and relegation could open the door to a more professional football league, with more opportunity for future generations to expand on the Socceroos’ successes.