A significant step towards the introduction of a men's national second division (NSD) has been reached, with Football Australia set to present "detailed financial work" to potential participating clubs following a June board meeting.
Speaking exclusively to ESPN, Football Australia CEO James Johnson confirmed that "multiple" competition structures, with full business models, will be presented to a meeting of the organisation's board later this month.
In collaboration with Kleinmann Wang, a consultancy firm led by Football NSW chairman Anter Isaac, a business case and profit and loss (PnL) projection for a central administrator of a second division have now been created, as well as mock PnLs outlining costs for participatory clubs under a number of varying competition models.
Johnson would not confirm what competition formats, or how many, have been modelled but has previously said that Football Australia was exploring the feasibility of both a traditional league structure and/or a Champions League-style format.
The practicalities of a 10-team vs. a 12-team traditional league -- amongst others -- have been examined, for example, as have the costings for 16 or 32 teams in a Champions League-style competition.
Assuming that no objections are raised by chairperson Chris Nikou's board -- Nikou has previously gone on the record in support of a second-tier -- the federation envisions then taking these figures out to potential entrants to the new competitions to "talk and debate."
"Where we want to land in a governance, management and administrative sense is that the clubs need to be prepared to be somewhere in between where the National Premier Leagues are now and where the A-League Men is," Johnson told ESPN.
"When we go out with concrete business plans for the different models it will come with the full authority of Football Australia. It's about getting buy-in at this stage and getting good alignment and understanding of what it really means.
"There'll be different models that will be presented and each of these models will include detailed financial work that's been done now. We'll put them on the table and say if you want to play in this model, where there's this many matches and you're travelling to these parts of the country, it's going to cost you X. Whereas if you play in this model and there's this many games and you're playing in fewer cities it will cost you Y.
"Then there will be conversations around in order to participate in this competition these will be the standards that we set through club licensing, which might require clubs to change the way they're governed and managed. And that will all be part of the package of discussions that we have with key stakeholders post the June board meeting."
Johnson also flagged that broader consultation would be undertaken with the governing body of the A-Leagues (the APL) and the players' union (PFA), referring to them as "important stakeholders."
"It's important that we put the models and the business plans on the table so that potential participatory clubs can see what they're getting themselves into. So the conversations become real," he said.
Matters relating to the competition's proposed timing, if it aligns with the A-Leagues in a summer setting or with the National Premier Leagues during the winter -- with the latter format more likely -- remain matters of debate.
This will invariably affect how the competition connects with the NPL upon its launch, with Johnson stating that there would be an objective to have some sort of means of connection between the league and the NPL, either as a concept to be grandfathered in or immediate, upon its launch.
Regulations surrounding the encoding of young player minutes into the competition's framework will also be the subject of discussion.
"It's going to be a senior competition with a youth development flavour throughout it," said Johnson.
The league would be governed by Football Australia's newly introduced club licencing framework, which presently only affects A-League Men and A-League Women clubs but will soon be rolled out throughout the Australian pyramid.
This would also provide a clear guideline to any future clubs looking to join the league as to what they would need to achieve off the field before they would be able to move up in the pyramid.
After previously removing the cap on transfer fees on deals outside of the A-Leagues, Johnson said the next step in his federation's efforts to reform the domestic transfer system (DTS) would centre on player loans and training compensation.
Changes to the DTS have become a signature policy initiative for Johnson, although these efforts been met with significant scepticism by the Professional Footballer's Australia player's union, who have taken issue with the level of consultation involved in the process and a perceived lack of data supporting the moves.