The Championship : Australia’s National 2nd Division

by Skip Fulton 0

“One small step for clubs, one giant leap for football”. That’s the tag line used today by Rabieh Krayem, Chairman of the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) in announcing the organisation’s blueprint for a national second division.

Dubbed The Championship and targeted for implementation alongside the 2019-2020 A-League Season, the framework documents a structured approach to the development of the new division representing both men’s and women’s football. The vision includes not just the second tier of national football in Australia, but also the introduction of promotion and relegation after five years.

The AAFC has been working on the framework behind the scenes and its release today meets one of the six objectives the organisation set when it was formed in March this year. Krayem detailed three reasons for the new divisions saying “First, we need it from a football perspective. The best way to improve the quality of football and our international competitiveness is to give young players more, and higher standard, game time.”

“Second, as a football nation, we’re not fulfilling the membership requirements of either FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation by not having promotion and relegation in place. A national second division is a pre-requisite of that.”

“Third, we believe it’s necessary to have this extra level of national competition in place to help bring life back into the football ‘market’, increase interest and attract investment,” Krayem said.

Whilst not detailed in the announcement, TCF understands the AAFC has undertaken an exceptionally detailed and wide-ranging program of work to develop the blueprint, canvasing feedback from over 100 NPL clubs through its membership base across all Federations.

TCFs own Damir Kulas wrote an article recently, Division and distrust in NPL as A-League remains closed shop, which reflected on the promotion and developing of young Australian footballers into the top tier of the game. The AAFC have addressed this issue specifically in this framework with a heavy emphasis on promoting young, local talent with at least half of the 20-person squad to be aged 25 or under, and a maximum of two visa players drawn from either the Asian or Oceania football confederations. Furthermore, the squad may only comprise a maximum of 3 players who have played A-League or W-League in the previous two seasons.

To ensure fan support, engagement with the league, and A-League protection, there will be no scheduling of matches where there is an A-League match in the same city on the same day. Women’s football will also be heavily backed with identical fixtures to take place on the same ground on the same day.

In the accounting department, gone will be the points system familiar to NPL clubs and a standard salary cap implemented of $1 million initially across the two squads (men and women).

Off the pitch, clubs in The Championship will be required to have a boutique stadium with capacity for 3,000 people as well as a capacity to meet an annual budget of $2.5 million, which includes an annual license fee of $150,000.

Most telling of all however is the governance and oversight of the league. The Championship will be established as a separate legal entity from FFA, the member federations and the AAFC. There are guidelines as to the ownership of the league (majority in the hands of the participating clubs) and the composition of the board including gender diversity with a minimum of three male and three female members.

The Championship also includes the integration of the state-based Federations as active participants. The Federations will be instrumental in providing referees and judiciary services to the legal, thus providing a value role at Federation level and with it funding that has been albeit non-existent from the FFA.

Whilst football pundits across the country all have their own visions of how a national second division and/or promotion/relegation should be introduced into Australian football, this is the first time a professional model has been tabled for implementation.

The AAFC have published the blueprint on a dedicated website at 

The next step in the journey for the AAFC is to call for Expressions of Interest in the new league which will come on 1 December this year.


1 December 2017     
AAFC calls for expression of interest from clubs interest in participation in The Championship
2 February 2018
Expressions of interest close
2 March 2018
FFA endorsement required
29 March 2018
The Championship Bid document made available on payment of $10,000 fee
25 May 2018
Bids close
May to July 2018
Bids assessed by Nous Group
August 2018
Nous Group report to AAFC Board
September 2018
Successful bidders notified
October 2018
Licenses issued
October 2019
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