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Opinion

Is the second division doomed in summer?

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Roar Rookie
30th July, 2021
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This week’s announcement of the domestic match calendar has the second division is kicking off in January and finishing in May. Why?

The NPL kicks off in March. There is no precedent for the NPL clubs to play in summer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to reliase Australia has the hottest summer football league in the world.

Is it so it aligns with the to-be-renamed FFA Cup? Should the second division sacrifice winter football so a handful of teams get to play some A-League teams? It would be better to get rid of the FFA Cup and keep the national second division as a winter competition, or even just to keep the current FFA Cup scheduling.

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Then there’s the fact the A-League teams get to start in the later stages but NPL teams have to start at the beginning, like all participants. Did we just get hoodwinked into a summer second division because of a few FFA Cup games?

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I wonder whether a summer second division has been envisaged because of the Australian Professional Leagues – but it makes no sense for a club in the national second division to pay any money to the APL, a profit-generating entity, for the privilege of playing in a league that has no access to the A-League. The APL sells licenses at $15 million each, so why should a second-division team pay for the privilege of maybe playing in the A League in 10, 15 or 20 years time?

It’s telling that little has been said about when promotion and relegation will occur, and so it makes no sense for any of the prospective second-division teams to pay for the privilege of regressing their level of football to a summer competition standard. It’s cheaper to play in the NPL and the game will be faster. Is NPL and state league football going to be moved to summer after a century of winter football in this country?

Matches played recently by the Olyroos, who comprise mostly A-League players, have shown us where under-23s football competes internationally, and the AFC Champions League has shown us how the A-League stacks up against other clubs in the region. Improvement is clearly needed, but it’s hard to believe summer football will achieve it.

I wonder whether the second division has been scheduled to quash the chance for momentum to build for a breakway league. Almost 6500 were at this NPL final in Sydney in 2019. I can imagine there being a risk that some winter games of the national second division would have more people in the crowd than some summer A-League matches.

If Paramount claims that football is going to be the No. 1 sport in Australia, how is it going to achieve this? Are they saying that summer football will have more than the 30,000 average attendance of the AFL and more than a million members when the metrics already show a decline in summer A-League?

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I am struggling to see the positives in the APL taking over the A-League and now the knock-on effects on the prospects of the national second division.

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