THE ASIAN Football Confederation have delivered their verdict on the A-League after a week-long fact-finding mission - and laid out a comprehensive plan to overhaul the competition.
The team led by the AFC's Competitions and Professional Football Project Director Tokuaki Suzuki said they had seen improvements since their last visit - but still had a list of recommendations.
Their 14-point plan is:
1. League to have a promotion and relegation system and reconsider the entire league structure.
2. To organise more matches with a knock-out Cup or League Cup competition.
3. Possibly increase the registration (number) of professional players.
1. Create a mixed zone for the written press and TV/radio media.
2. Secure flexibility to expand media/press conference room and media working room.
3. Segregate the flow between the media and VIP by timing management and/or securing a different entry/exit.
1. Create a sustainable growing fan base.
2. Find a solution for non-sponsors branding at stadiums.
3. Consider the option of multiple broadcasters.
1. Clubs to establish comprehensive youth development programmes and to hire technical experts to oversee the administrative and technical matters.
2. FFA to consider the integration of A-League clubs into the national and regional youth competitions system. 3. Emphasise on grassroots for U-8 and below.
1. The A-League operations and business activities to be done as activities of a legal entity.
2. FFA to avoid cross-ownership issues.
1. The clubs should manage their expenditure and increase sources of income.
During a club workshop and meeting yesterday for officials from Football Federation Australia and eight clubs, Suzuki said: "We are here not only to assess the clubs and the league but to assist for the development of professional football in Australia.
"First of all, I would like to congratulate the A-League for the significant improvements with the clubs and stadiums. We see that there have been a lot of improvements in the clubs and stadiums based on our suggestions last year.
"From this year's inspection, we recognise that all the clubs have made a lot of improvements such as on the training sites, required stadium facilities, security officers and others.
"We can report what we have assessed during our inspections and discuss further a couple of more items for confirmation. As I have explained previously, we would like to work and tackle the issue together with the FFA and A-League."
FFA Chief Executive Officer Ben Buckley said a lot of work had to be done for the development of the Hyundai A-League.
"However, it is also very important for us to work together for the development of the AFC Champions League, which is the most prestigious club competition in Asia." he said.
"The AFC Champions League is a great opportunity for us and we hope to get more information from the AFC regarding the criteria, assessment and recommendations."