Postecoglou backs A-League second tier
Photo Source: AAP
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has advocated the introduction of a national second division to sit beneath the A-League and act as a stepping stone to professional football.
Citing the positive effect of the FFA Cup on state league football, Postecoglou believes there is merit in the idea of bringing together the top clubs from the various National Premier Leagues in one competition and give more opportunities to players and coaches.
The goal would be for promotion to and relegation from the top tier - but until that becomes feasible, he reckons a new division would serve a purpose in giving second-tier clubs an incentive to grow and bridging the gap between the A-League and the NPL.
"When I was coaching A-League I used to get quite a few players from NPL clubs and even the training load was a massive jump for them," Postecoglou said.
"The divide between what we're seeing in the A-League and in the NPL will become wider and wider unless we can provide a link between the two, because I see the A-League clubs becoming more and more professional.
"A really strong second-tier competition can surely help.
"We've seen the FFA Cup provide that little of window of opportunity and you see how it's been embraced by the whole football community.
"If you can bridge that gap by giving some incentive to some of the second-tier clubs to become a bit more professional, there'll be more (talent) coming out of there."
Postecoglou said there would have to be "tight controls" around the administration of a second division, who would be allowed in, and how it would link with the A-League, if not immediately by direct promotion and relegation.
Australia is one of only two major footballing nations, along with the United States, without promotion and relegation in their top-flight domestic leagues.
It is a topic of increasingly hot debate in Australia and while FFA chief executive David Gallop recently described it as the "ultimate prize" for the sport, there are no plans to introduce it, and Australia's geography and tough sporting market presents numerous challenges.
Postecoglou described himself as "pretty bullish" about immediate A-League expansion, with a second tier and promotion and relegation ideally to follow.
"For me the first stage is to say let's get some more teams in the top division, provide more opportunities for players and supporters and I think you'll find from there, growth will kind of happen anyway," he said.
"I understand there's economics behind it but from where I sit, I think there's a real need for it, and sooner rather than later."