Unless you’ve been living under a rock with no internet, the football fraternity has been ripe this year with discussion of expansion and promotion/relegation.
This week on an administrative level, it reached a head as it was revealed a number of NPL clubs were looking to form a national second division after months of umming and ahhing from the powers that be at FFA Headquarters.
While some see this as a rebellious move by clubs within the member federations, the move to create a legitimate national second tier is not without merit, nor precedent.
The Australian footballing fraternity does not have to look too far abroad to find inspiration of just how a second division can be implemented on a national scale.
It was only in 2011, when Asian rivals South Korea were undergoing their own expansion and promotion/relegation debate.
The result of which is what is now known as the 'K-League Challenge' kicking off in 2013 with immediate promotion and relegation.
Initially this promotion and relegation consisted of a playoff between the bottom team of the top tier K-League and the champions of the K-League Challenge.
While the following season direct promotion and relegation was implemented for the champions and wooden spooners, one team from the now named 'K-League Classic' and three from the K-League Challenge still take part in pro/rel playoffs.
Does this mean we should have a national second division and promotion/relegation within two years? No.
But what it does show is that with meticulous planning - it took two years for Korean footballing dreams to come to fruition - it is possible.
Australian football is currently at fever pitch with recurring talk of expansion, promotion and relegation and growth.
With cautious optimism, Australian football can capitalise on this.
After all, the A-League faced its own challenges in its formative years with geographical isolation among teams and dithering crowds between teams amongst the main concerns of the fledgling new league.
If the FFA welcome the formation of a second division by these ‘rebel’ clubs, perhaps the gracious hand of the league carrier - currently QANTAS - could be stretched further to subsidise the costs of travel between long distance rivals.
Seperate from the A-League, it would not sully the quality we’ve came to expect from the national league and with prerequisites in place, eventual promotion to the A-League could also require certain benchmarks to be met to protect the product of the game.
This is a system used in some footballing leagues, including lower league football in England where if a team is not up to Football League standards, they will not be admitted into the Football League from non-league football.
Granted, this hasn’t happened in recent times, but the structures are in place to avoid teams crumbling into financial deficit.
With the AFC and FIFA leaning on Football Federation Australia to shake up the game, now would be the perfect opportunity to take the curveball that the NPL clubs have thrown and run for it.
Our Asian neighbours have proved it can be done, and with the passion from fans outside the top-tier of football in Australia, the drive to do so is already there.