5 reasons why promotion and relegation will not work in Australia

-

With talk of a second division back in the news it is time to finally admit that promotion and relegation will not work in Australia.

Ideally Australia would be able to implement a similar system to Europe, but there are several reasons why that is not possible. Now before you get mad, let us take a look at the reasons why it will not work.

The second division

First things first, Australia needs a well run and stable second division. While the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) has some very ambitious plans for a second division, realistically it is going to take at least five to ten years to get a second division even close to starting.

Once the division gets started, it will still need to prove it is sustainable before it can be linked to the A-League for relegation/promotion. This could take another five to ten years, and with that time frame there are many things that could go wrong.

Sustainability is going to be tough, the next reasons explain why.

Embed from Getty Images

Costs

The next big thing is cost, with A-League clubs already struggling to survive against rising costs and lowered income, it is hard to imagine clubs being able to financially handle being relegated.

We do not have the resources for parachute payments like in England, so when clubs are relegated that financial hit will be devastating for them.

The second division will be heavily reliant on a TV deal to support the league. The AAFC have released some optimistic projections, but even those would mean the second division would be semi-pro at best.

Having a fully professional club being dumped into a semi-pro league can only end in disaster and would create a huge divide between the two leagues.

Travel logistics

Another big problem, unique to Australia, is the massive distance that teams need to travel to play each other.

There is a reason the distance derby between Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix is a bit of a meme. Having such a massive distance between clubs forces travel costs up and means travel times are higher than other leagues.

This problem would greatly affect the second league, and already effects the nation’s state leagues with geographic issues.

What would happen if the Phoenix were relegated? Or the Glory? It would greatly increase travel logistics for a league that will already be stretched for finances.

Embed from Getty Images

Fan culture

Australians are always extremely proud to say we are a sporting nation that will get behind our teams no matter what. But sadly, it is not true, Australian sporting fans are incredibly fickle.

Australians are quick to get behind teams when they are winning, but as soon as things go bad their interest wains and they stop showing up.

One of the reasons for that is we are spoilt for choice when it comes to sporting teams. AFL, NRL, rugby, A-League and cricket just to name some of the main ones. We are used to success and when teams fail, there is always another team to support.

We have seen this in the A-League with the Melbourne Victory. The self-proclaimed “biggest club in Australia” has had two seasons of mediocrity and have seen fans leave in droves. Meanwhile the opposite is true with the Central Coast Mariners, they are bringing fans back after finally returning to their winning ways.

If teams are relegated from the A-League they will lose a large portion of their fans. They will keep those faithful fans, but would it be enough to sustain as they try to return to the A-League? It’s unlikely.

This fan culture will also mean it will be harder to attract fans to the second division. People will ask ‘why should I follow a second division team when I can just follow a team in the A-League?’

Embed from Getty Images

Independent A-league

This is the biggest reason why promotion and relegation will not work in Australia. Why would the new independent league agree to give up their safety and security in the A-League? Especially after they have fought so hard over the last 16 years to make the league what it is today.

There would need to be some incentive to get the A-League on board, but it does not seem likely. The second division would need to be exceeding all expectations and as mentioned in the reasons above, it would be unlikely to anytime soon.

Overall it would be fantastic to see Australia move to a more traditional footballing pyramid, where any club can live the dream and climb from the bottom to the top. But it is not feasible right now and it will not be for a long time.

While some of the problems could eventually be solved or alternatives found. Fan culture in Australia is so against teams failing that this problem could never be overcome.

Featured Image Supplied: Brisbane Roar

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Ben Johnston
I grew up on the Central Coast and fell in love with football in 2005. Supporter of Mariners, Manchester United and Macclesfield Town.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required