South-west Sydney bid puts pressure on FFA for second tier

The pressure to establish a national second division continues to mount on Football Federation Australia with two football associations in south-west Sydney joining forces to build a professional club seeking long-term entry into the A-League.

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With the push for a national second tier below the A-League already boasting the support of the Asian Football Confederation and world football’s governing body, FIFA, a new team representing more than 22,000 registered players will add more fuel to the debate surrounding promotion and relegation in the future for Australian football.

On Friday morning, Southern Districts and Macarthur football associations will unveil a joint venture football club seeking entry into the proposed second division that will be tabled to FFA by more than 80 current National Premier League clubs, as part of the Association of Australian Football Clubs.

While the majority of those seeking entry into a national second tier are existing clubs such as Adelaide City, Sydney United, APIA Leichhardt and South Melbourne, the club with the working title “South West Football” is the first confirmed new bid seeking a licence for the new tier.

Under the draft proposal yet to be put forward to the FFA, a national second tier will sit above the state leagues and will immediately involve promotion and relegation with the National Premier leagues, but not the A-League for several years until it’s proven its sustainability. While South West Football is hoping to be represented in the A-League in the future, it remains a long-term goal hinged on the establishment of promotion and relegation across all tiers of Australian football.

The primary focus of the venture is a professional platform for a football community with a minimum 51 per cent of the club to be owned by the two associations, representing a combined 52 clubs in the largest growth corridor in Sydney.

“It’s going to be community-owned even with external investment,” Southern Districts president Gino Marra said. “It’s a real community team, it’s parkland soccer, 34, 28 clubs will own a potential ‘B-League’ team and there’s nothing like that in Australia.”

The proposed club claims the support at local and state council level and if successful, will likely play out of the planned new football stadium at Fairfield Showgrounds as reported by Fairfax Media on Thursday. According to those leading the venture, up to eight local businesses have pledged a total of $5 million in support of the club, additional to the individual associations.

“We’ve already started speaking to major sponsors who are looking to get on board for a long-term commitment with South West Football and they’re community sponsors. We’re looking to follow the German structure where 51 per cent is funded and owned by the community,” Marra said.

Much like the establishment of Western Sydney Wanderers, the leaders of the bid will hold community forums to determine details of the potential club such as name, colours and location.

“We’ll meet with the community in Fairfield, Liverpool, Tahmoor, Campbelltown and Camden and ask stakeholders what they want the club to look like and their aspirations for a team,” Marra said.