Gungahlin United Football Club (GUFC) has joined the Association of Australian Football Clubs’ (AAFC) Championship Partner Group to establish a national second division football league under the A-League.
The Championship model needs to be finalised – including whether or not it will include promotion and relegation between the two leagues – before being presented to Football Federation Australia (FFA), a process that is expected to take at least 12 months.
The timing of the competition, player squads, relationships with football academies, facilities and corporate governance all need to be sorted out as well.
But Gungahlin United President Neil Harlock says the most important thing when establishing the league is its ability to provide more pathways for Australians to play professional football.
“It is something for our club to aspire to, whether it is in two years’ time, five years’ time or 10 years’ time. It is a case of really working with the Gungahlin community to help us establish a pathway for any player who comes and plays,” he told Region Media.
“It is important for the ACT as a whole because when you start to look at this national second division it gives a realistic opportunity for clubs who are classified in a regional area like the ACT to aspire to be involved in a higher standard.
“It gives clubs the opportunity to be the best that they can and develop players as high as they can.”
Currently, each state runs its own Premier League and 30 clubs from every Australian state and the ACT have signed up to the proposal.
Despite GUFC holding its own in the ACT’s Premier League, smashing the Cooma Tigers 5-0 in the final to take out the 2019 Championship, Neil says the proposal would see the club test itself against the best in the country.
“I think it will be challenging, but over time, and with better football, and a bit of infrastructure, the quality of ACT teams will improve,” he said.
“I do not think we will improve overnight but it will certainly happen down the track because you are creating more opportunities for more players and coaches to be involved.”
AAFC chairman Nick Galatas said the association had worked hard with the FFA, state member federations, Professional Footballers Australia and the A-League clubs over the past three years to come up with the best Championship model.
The announcement comes less than a month after the Capital Region Football Collective officially submitted a multi-million dollar offer for an A-League team for the 2021-22 season.