Football Australia announces foundation clubs for National Second Tier

Today, Monday 20 November, marks a significant milestone in the Australian football eco-system as Football Australia officially announces the selection of eight foundation clubs for the inaugural National Second Tier (NST) competition, set to commence in March/April 2025.

This announcement aligns with the broader vision set out in the XI Principles for the future of Australian football and celebrates the unity, diversity, and passion that characterises the beautiful game in Australia.

After a rigorous and comprehensive application process, the following initial foundation clubs have been selected based on their strong proposals and readiness to meet the standards set for the NST competition:

APIA Leichhardt FCEstablished in 1954. From the vibrant community of Leichhardt in Sydney’s inner west, APIA Leichardt Tigers FC brings a rich heritage and a fervent fanbase to the NST.
Avondale FCRepresenting one of the fastest growing regions in Australia, Victoria’s Avondale FC steps into the NST ready to make its mark with home grown talent and ambition to match.
Marconi Stallions FCProudly supported by a membership base of over 36,000. A club synonymous with legacy and achievement, Marconi Stallions FC from Fairfield in Sydney’s outer west has produced 75 Socceroos including 6 former captains.
Preston Lions FCEstablished in 1947. With a passionate following and a progressive culture, Preston Lions FC from Victoria’s northern suburbs is poised to add a new chapter to its illustrious history.
South Melbourne FCGlobally recognised as Oceania Club of the Century. A club with a deep-rooted legacy and strong commercial base, South Melbourne FC stands ready to extend its influence into this new era.
Sydney Olympic FCEstablished in 1957. Representing the spirit of competition and sportsmanship, Sydney Olympic FC enters the NST supported by strong community programs and partnerships.
Sydney United 58 FCAustralia Cup 2022 Runner Up. A beacon of Sydney’s south-western suburbs, Sydney United 58 FC has a proven track record developing talent including 60 players who have represented the Socceroos.
Wollongong Wolves FCEstablished in 1980. Embodied by the resilience and strength of its region, Wollongong Wolves FC represents a territory comprised of over 20,000 players across 108 clubs.

James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia, expressed his enthusiasm for this pivotal development: “The establishment of the National Second Tier is a transformative step for Australian football, aligning perfectly with our 15-year strategic vision outlined in the XI Principles. It symbolises our commitment to reconnecting the football pyramid and enhancing the competitiveness of our national game.”

These clubs were chosen following a comprehensive and multi-phased NST Application Process that began in early 2023. “Each club demonstrated not only their readiness in terms of operational and commercial elements but also their alignment with the strategic objectives of Australian football,” added Johnson.

Looking forward, Johnson highlighted the strategic importance of the NST: “This is more than just a competition; it’s a cornerstone in our mission to fortify the foundations of our sport. The National Second Tier will be instrumental in nurturing talent, engaging communities, and elevating the overall quality of football across the country.”

While due diligence is ongoing to ensure these clubs align with the Club Participation Agreement (CPA) and Club Licensing requirements, Football Australia is committed to expanding the competition’s horizon.

The NST is set to be a transformative element in Australian football, initially featuring 10 or 12 teams, the inaugural season will incorporate home and away matches culminating in a competitive Finals Series. This initiative is a testament to years of dedicated efforts and advocacy from stakeholders across the football community.

In early 2024, the focus will shift to selecting an additional 2-4 clubs through a refined application process, ensuring a sustainable and diverse composition of clubs for the inaugural NST season. “Our goal is to ensure that the National Second Tier not only enhances the competitive landscape but also embodies the spirit and aspirations of Australian football at all levels,” Johnson explained.

The decision to commence the NST in 2025 was made to ensure a solid foundation for the competition, accommodating comprehensive planning and development for all stakeholders. Two competition formats are under consideration for the inaugural season, contingent upon the successful selection of additional clubs next year:

  • A 10-team competition with two rounds plus a Finals Series, totalling 18 regular season matches.
  • A 12-team competition with two rounds plus a Finals Series, totalling 22 regular season matches.

Furthermore, the NST will be a pivotal feature in the media rights deal from 2025 onwards, showcasing Football Australia’s commitment to the growth and promotion of football in Australia.

For the 2024 season, the eight foundation clubs, alongside prospective new entrants, will continue competing in their respective Member Federation National Premier Leagues’ competitions. Football Australia will work closely with these clubs to ensure a smooth transition to the NST.

The next steps for Football Australia will be the finalisation of the application process for the additional foundation clubs in 2024, with specific details to be announced in the coming months. The establishment and development of the NST competition brand is underway, with an exciting launch event anticipated in early 2024.

“A new era kicks off in 2025,” Johnson said. “Join us as these clubs carve their paths in the annals of Australian football history. Football Australia stands united for the game and ready for the future.”

Football Australia looks forward to working alongside all stakeholders to usher in this new era for Australian football.

This article was first published by Football Australia