Football Australia has formally commenced its process to create a National Second Tier Men’s competition currently earmarked to commence in March 2024.
Football Australia has invited all interested parties wishing to participate in the yet to be named, National Second Tier, to respond to an Invitation for Expression of Interest (EOI).
The EOI process will provide Football Australia with relevant information to assess the level of interest, and to refine the strategy, vision, competition format, operation, and administration of the National Second Tier.
The process is designed for Australian football clubs with a deep connection and demonstrated history in Australian football to participate in a tier of football that is anticipated to comprise of an individual league in a ‘home and away’ structure with the proposed competition parameters as follows:
A new national tier of football between the A-League Men competition and the National Premier Leagues, with the opportunity for promotion and relegation to be considered once mature
A home and away league structure with finals, comprised of between 10 and 16 teams and featuring between 24 to 36 games. National Second Tier Clubs will enter into a Club Participation Agreement setting out the terms of participation, including but not limited to the following requirements:
-professional playing contracts for all players, with salaries paid 52 weeks of the year;
-‘off field’ operations run by employed staff throughout 12 months of the year;
-investment in and operation of a full talent development pathway within their club structure; and
access to a suitable high-quality match day facility 12 months of the year.
Should the level of interest not validate the required number of Clubs with the capability to formulate an independent tier of competition, the option remains for Football Australia to institute a phased ‘group based’ competition model that will utilise the National Premier Leagues competition to determine the make-up of this format of competition (the ‘Champions League’ model).
The Invitation for EOI is the first phase of what is envisaged will be a multistage process, with this phase opening today and closing on 3 March 2023.
At the conclusion of the EOI stage of the process, Football Australia intends to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to shortlisted parties inviting the submission of detailed proposals. Additional information through detailed Bid Documents will be provided to shortlisted parties during the RFP phase to assist with their formal detailed proposal.
This information during the RFP phase may include, an information memorandum, NST related data, including financial forecasts and benchmarking, key terms of a Club Participation Agreement, and draft transaction documents.
The following subsequent phases are envisaged: Phase 2 – Request for Proposal (April – June indicative), Phase 3 – Assessment and Recommendation (June – August indicative), Phase 4 – Completion (August – September indicative). Further information on these remaining phases will be outlined at a future date.
There will be an interactive process to assist both shortlisted bidders and Football Australia to aid the development of high quality, well considered proposals and further refining the overall vision of the NST. This structured process will occur following the release of the RFP.
Football Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said many potential respondents had already expressed their interest through a consultation phase across Australia in 2022, and more could emerge during the process.
“Developing a national second tier competition is a key component of our 15-year vision for the game and our efforts to reconnect and realign Australian football competitions. Australian football has gone on a journey of transformation over the last two years and this is the latest example of us bringing our vision for the game to life.
“In 2022, we did extensive financial and competition modelling followed by a series of consultations with clubs and other stakeholders across the game. We know from this process that there is a lot of interest in a national second tier so we expect that we will receive a strong number of responses in this first EOI phase.
“Some of these clubs have a rich history in Australian football and aspire to grow and compete at a national level. The national second tier will now provide a platform for these aspirational clubs and to be a part of a connected football pyramid in the long term.
“With football booming in Asia, our national teams competing strongly on the world stage and as the largest team participation base in Australian sport, this is the right time to create a national second tier.
“We look forward to the process we have now launched and working collaboratively with all stakeholders and interested parties in building a successful National Second Tier and kicking the league off as early as March 2024,” Johnson said.