FOOTBALL: Australian football must prioritise a second division now that A-League expansion is on the backburner, according to the players' union.
New entities, existing clubs and even universities would make up a national second division under the ambitious plan.
A professional second division club would cost $5.5 million a year to run, a Professional Footballers Australia cost analysis reveals, while league operating costs would be $10-12 million. The $5.5 million would cover women's and youth teams, complementing the full-time second tier men's side.
The PFA added it must be a stand-alone second division as the A-League is not yet mature enough to cope with relegation, though expansion clubs would be drafted from the second tier.
PFA chief executive John Didulica said the size of the league and timing would depend on demand, but was adamant it would help the A-League.
"Our urgent economic priority is to drive the value of the A-League clubs,” Didulica said.
"If you look at the MLS model, Seattle has grown from a $40 million (US $30m) licence fee a decade ago to being valued by Forbes at $366 million (US $275m).
Tasmania, South Sydney, South Melbourne, Geelong, Dandenong-Casey, Wollongong and Queensland-based clubs have all expressed their interest in joining the A-League in the last six months.
Football Federation Australia said it could not afford to bankroll expansion under the current model, after promising to release an expansion blueprint in late February.
FFA chief executive David Gallop was open-minded about a second division.
"Work to expand the A-League is still progressing and importantly the matter of a new operating model for the A-League needs to be solved before it can be implemented,” he said.
"The new operating model needs to be developed in consultation with all stakeholders but primarily the current A-League clubs. This model will be developed to attract the necessary capital to the game to ensure any expansion remains sustainable for the long term.”
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