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> Nsl Giants Back Second Tier, B-LEAGUE
post May 25 2009, 01:55 PM
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Monday May 25, 2009

FOOTBALL Federation Australia's decision to investigate a national second-tier competition has sparked intense interest among the game's traditional custodians after years of being frozen out by the game's governing body.

The FFA revealed last week that it was forming an eight-man taskforce to consider the practical and logistical implications of a proposed "second division", which would derive the majority - if not all - of its teams from the existing state leagues around the country.

Those teams most likely to be in the running are those who previously participated in the old National Soccer League, many of whom have returned to their state league roots with varying degrees of success.

Since the demolition of the NSL and subsequent creation of the A-League in 2003-04, relations between the powerbrokers of "old soccer" and "new football" have been frosty to say the least, with many feeling the FFA had unfairly distanced themselves from the game's somewhat rocky past.

Until now, little effort has been made to end the stand-off but the FFA has recently shown signs of wanting to reconnect with the storied clubs of yesteryear instead of continuing with its policy of isolating the A-League.

A national cup competition might have been postponed but will almost certainly take place in the next year, while alterations to the transfer system - including removing the $3000 transfer cap for players moving from a state league to the A-League - are being considered.

As arguably the nation's most successful club, boasting four national and eight state league titles, South Melbourne initially felt aggrieved at being overlooked for the A-League but said they would love the opportunity to return to the national stage.

"We're definitely interested in playing at a higher level and the ambition of South Melbourne will always be to compete on that kind of stage," said South Melbourne director George Triantos. "It would be a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our great club once again. We've been part of football in Australia for 50 years."

While many clubs remain bitter about the nature of the NSL's demise, South Melbourne have gradually moved on and have tried to position themselves not only as a Victorian power but as a club willing to work within the constraints of "new football".

"We've always wanted to stay relevant, and we understand that means embracing a new direction. After all, we host Socceroos training here when they're in town, the Melbourne Victory's women's team and youth teams, so we think we're a part of it," Triantos said. "Look at how we compare to other Victorian clubs in terms of the number of full-time staff we have, the training and stadium facilities, the way we present ourselves in a corporate sense, in the media, with our marketing and so on. Many other clubs don't have that.

"Are we too big for the state league? I wouldn't like to say. But you'll find that the bigger clubs are looking for either reform or something else altogether."

Should such a competition prove to be financially viable, the biggest stumbling block to bringing clubs in remains the delicate prospect of promotion and relegation and whether there was a possibility of winning a place in the A-League.

"Most clubs would look at having promotion and relegation as very important," Triantos said. "Would we enter that competition if we couldn't get in the A-League? I don't know. .. You'll find most clubs aspire to play in the top level."



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