FFA Technical Director, Eric Abrams has likened the standard of the National Premier League NSW to the Belgium fourth division.
Abrams was appointed to oversee Australian elite youth player development in 2014 and says NPL clubs need a reality check if they wish to be part of A-League expansion and form a national second division.
The Premier League competitions around the country kicked off recently and Abrams who steered Belgium youth football from 2002-2013 said he was unimpressed with the level of play.
"When I saw Sydney United playing against Blacktown City in the Grand Final of NSW you can’t say to me this is second division, he said.
"This is not second division. If I compare it with Belgium competition it’s maybe division three or four.
"It’s not a professional competition so there is really a sense for NPL clubs to level up the standards."
Abrams said one way of raising the quality is to increase the amount of time players prepare before games.
“I hear some voices that they want to come in the professional environment, first of all they have to take action,” he said.
“If you are only training three or four times a week you can’t say to me it’s professional."
"Yes absolutely it’s lower. I was not happy with the quality I saw."
A-League expansion has been on the agenda since the beginning of the season and current NPL sides, South Melbourne, Brisbane Strikers and West Adelaide have made noises about bidding.
But Abrams said if clubs in Australia’s second tier have genuine ambitions about being part of Australia’s top flight they have to up their game.
“You have to raise your standards,” he said. “I believe some clubs can do it but at the moment we are not at the level to say we are competing with the A-League, that is impossible, that is not a reality.”
“I understand some of these players are working full time and they play and train in the evening but if you want to say for yourself that you want to compete in the A-League and we want a second-tier professional league, then you can’t stay in two or three training sessions per week, that is impossible. “
“I expect that NPL (clubs) will take the challenge to improve on all levels. And if they want to be known as a second division they have to in terms of the standard and the benchmarks have to come up.”