FFA wants second division by 2021

An A-League second division may be created in the coming years.
An A-League second division may be created in the coming years.

A national football second division boasting at least eight clubs could be up and running by 2021-22, but promotion and relegation in the A-League isn't set to happen for a decade or more.

A blueprint for the second-tier competition was released on Thursday by the FFA as the governing body attempts to boost national player pathways.

While there's no firm structure for the proposed competition, nor a decision on whether it will run in winter or in summer alongside the A-League, it's recommended the second division is in place in two years' time.

The push for a second tier comes at a taxing time for the game, with host broadcaster Foxtel reportedly looking to on-sell A-League games to free-to-air rights holder Channel Ten to ease financial pressure after a financial loss of $417 million in 2018.

FFA director Remo Nogarotto, who headed the working group which created the blueprint, admitted creating a second division in such times was a challenge but one he felt the sport had to take on.

"I don't underestimate the size of the mountain in front of us but I will say this to you, if ever there is a football code that can make a national second division work, it's ours," Nogarotto said.

"A second-tier competition is part of the football DNA everywhere in the world.

"It's nice to say that but you still have the economic challenge but I know I am up for the challenge."

The financial model for the league, such as licensing fees, salary caps and foreign player restrictions, are yet to be determined.

Under the proposed set-up, clubs will be "incubated" in the competition for five years with no relegation or promotion.

FFA hopes failed A-League expansion bids from Wollongong and Canberra, as well as other regions unrepresented in the competition such as Tasmania, will use that period to prove themselves worthy of being included in an A-League of up to 16 teams.

Somewhere between five to 10 years after the second division is established, promotion and relegation from the regional NPL leagues to the second division would be considered under the paper's recommendations.

Promotion and relegation with the A-League however will be a topic for future discussion, with no set timeframe in place.

It's also no guarantee winning the second division would secure automatic promotion to the A-League, with "non-football criteria" to also determine eligibility.

A seven-member steering committee, to be chaired by an FFA representative, will be established immediately to prepare an initial report on the competition for the FFA board by November.

Australian Associated Press