01/03/2024

Football Australia CEO James Johnson at the launch of the National Second Tier with Football Australia Head of Professional Football & Competitions Natalie Lutz. Photo Credit: Football Australia/Brett Costello

At the National Second Tier launch, Football Australia CEO James Johnson met with the media, discussing the competition’s branding, among other issues.

As Football Australia launched the National Second Tier on Monday, there was inevitably going to be a ton of discussion surrounding the competition.

In a meeting with the media, Football Australia CEO James Johnson talked about the bank guarantee, the prospective broadcast of the competition, branding, and women’s club football.

It was revealed that all clubs had to submit a bank guarantee, which Johnson spoke to its importance.

“The objective is, on the bank guarantee, is we want to manage risk,” Johnson said.

“We don’t want clubs falling over, and if we do need to step in, we’ll be calling on the bank guarantee.

“It’s really to give us some security with the selections. That was important for us.”

“In terms of the participation fee going forward, there is going to be a fee,” he added regarding the participation fee and how it will be an annual fee.

“We’re not looking to make money out of this competition. We’re looking to invest in the administration and key roles that can market the competition so that we can build the business model through those three revenue streams I spoke about before – broadcast, match day, and sponsorship.

“So any bit of investment that comes in is really to run the competition but also help us build a business model, which is going to take some time over (the) years.”

The broadcast of the competition is not set at this stage, as the FA looks to explore a variety of different models and platforms. Whilst Johnson did not rule out Football Australia producing it in-house, he did indicate it would not be the preferred option.

“For me, I think our role is, I’m not sure that will be something we want to take on in the coming years. Let’s see how it plays out during the broadcast cycle.

“I think what’s important for us, our priorities going into that will be one, what’s the reach from prospective broadcasters and also what cash investment can come in. They’re the two [points of] focus.

“Anything else outside of that is something we can talk about but it’s not core to our objectives through the process.

The quality of the broadcasts is also up for discussion with prospective broadcasters. The NPL is currently broadcasted using a single-camera set-up for the majority of matches, while the A-Leagues vary but have minimum broadcast standards for every game.

Non-committal, when asked, the CEO of Football Australia stated that the discussion will take place over the coming months.

“What I would say as a general point though is anything we do, our starting point is ‘how do we create something that sits somewhere in between the NPL and the A-League?’, and that cuts across every line of decision.”

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The NST – which currently has no name for the competition – also brings with it a second level of professional competition for men in Australia, but there is still not a fully professional women’s competition.

Johnson pointed out Football Australia’s investment in professional women’s football and its competition in recent years, indicating that the FA have invested more in the past four years in the lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 than ever before.

“If you look at women’s and men’s football, we’ve invested more in the past four years than we have ever invested by far.

“Now the majority of that has gone into the Matildas, and I think you’ve seen the building of the brand off the pitch, but also the investment on the pitch, from coaches to chefs to high performance.

“The women are getting the same environment, not just the payments, as the men. That’s been a big investment. 

“This investment is on the men’s second tier, and also on the third tier with the champions league model.”

However, he did reiterate that there will be an investment by the governing body into women’s club football.

“But we’re going to invest in women’s club football, and the start is the NPL Champions League that we’re looking to introduce in 2025, so that’s another important part of the Australian ecosystem.

“We need to invest in both. That’s important to us.”

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