Gallop pours cold water on promotion and relegation

The A-League could be expanded within four years but a system of promotion and relegation will only be introduced when the time is right, Football Federation Australia chief David Gallop said.

A-League Season Launch

The A-League's 10 captains Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

The FFA chief executive used the launch of the 12th A-League to clarify the governing body's position on the future of the competition.

It was the first time the FFA spoke at length about a topic that has divided public opinion.

Fans wanting a 12-team competition could have their wish granted "sooner rather than later" but those clamouring for promotion and relegation that would put Australian football in line with most countries in the world will have to wait indefinitely ... and that's coming from the horse's mouth.

"There are steps along the way and we need to take a disciplined approach to that but certainly 10 teams is too few," Gallop said.

"We want to move to 12 teams relatively quickly. But the first step in that is some big commercial deals that the game is looking to do.

"The ultimate prize of promotion and relegation will happen in Australian football but there is lot more that needs to happen before we could sensibly move to it.

"With the introduction of the National Premier League system and the FFA Cup you can see that deliberate steps have been made to close the gap between the A-League and the rest of the game.

"Football occasionally has a restlessness to it and it is right that we are ambitious but it is also right that we take a disciplined approach to those things.

"Importantly, people need to know that promotion and relegation are on the horizon. They are not being dismissed and I think the groundwork that is being done at the moment will put us in a good position to make those things successful when they do happen.

"So, pushing sustainability into the existing 10 clubs, moving to a 12-team competition, investing in the tier below such as the NPL and the FFA Cup and then ultimately moving to a situation where promotion and relegation can happen (are the steps to be taken)."

Gallop was asked if FFA would entertain the idea of establishing a second division before expanding the existing league.

"I would say expansion will come first. We are always cognisant of the important development role that the NPL clubs play in the ecosystem of the game," Gallop said.

"But I would have thought that the first step is to get beyond the 10 teams that we've got.

"Expansion could happen in the next four years. Yet again, let's get a some commercial deals in place, have a look at the size of the pie and then assess the suitability of moving quicker to an enlarged competition."

Gallop steadfastly refused to put a time frame on the proposals to expand the competition and it was suggested to him that unless FFA did so his views would be seen as nothing more than hot air and a blatant attempt to get critics off the governing body's back.

"Not at all. I think it is more about just making people realise that it is on the horizon but let's get some commercial deals done, let's drive some commercial sustainability into the 10 teams we already have, let's get beyond the10 teams then let's assess what needs to be done to sensibly move to promotion and relegation because at the moment we all accept that there is a lot more that will have to happen first."

Gallop was also asked to comment on reports that frustrated A-League clubs and their owners, who have been at loggerheads with the governing body for several years, might move away from the FFA and set up an independent league.

"A fully separated A-League is not on our agenda," Gallop said.

"We are certainly putting more resources into the competition, which is the engine room for the whole game. We need to be careful not to upset our commercial partners who seek a connection between the top of the game and the kids.

"There is a range of contractual and other arrangements in place carefully structured to protect the various investments. We've moved to a 20-year licence in 2014 to encourage investors and add value to their investments."

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4 min read
Published 4 October 2016 at 3:35pm
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS