EXCLUSIVE: Football Federation Australia has revealed new details about the Australian Premier League to start next season - and revealed its clubs will be seeded in the latter stages of the FFA Cup.
The FFA confirmed the APL competition will also culminate in a series of playoffs between each division’s champion club, with the format yet to be determined.
At least two states have declared their intention to operate two divisions under the APL banner, opening the way for traditional promotion and relegation battles.
Preliminary details of the rebranded league, which replaces the existing top tier competitions in each state, were outlined in Brisbane during the first of several presentations to be hosted by the FFA in conjunction with its member federations.
Queensland’s regional associations and representatives from clubs competing in Football Brisbane and the Queensland State League competitions attended the briefing on Sunday.
Under the plan, Queensland’s APL division will be a state-wide competition featuring 12 clubs, with a minimum of four based in Brisbane. The Queensland division will not include promotion and relegation, instead each of the clubs meeting the entry criteria will have a secure licence for the first five years of the competition.
The format of APL divisions in other states will differ depending upon the requirements of member federations. Earlier this month, Football Federation of Tasmania confirmed they will run a state-wide, eight team competition from next season.
FFA Executive Manager, Mark Falvo, who spoke at the Brisbane presentation, said the FFA Cup concept was still in development and that the Australian Premier League moniker, while remaining the FFA’s preferred option, had not been finalised.
He added that the national governing body was in the early stages of seeking potential sponsors and broadcast agreements for both the FFA Cup and APL competitions.
Both the FFA and Football Queensland stressed they would work with clubs to ensure the financial stability of the new league model. While there will be no licence fee to join, participating clubs will be required to submit financial statements to both associations for an annual audit.
A consultation process will take place to determine the best way of assisting regional clubs with the travel costs associated with competing in a larger state-wide league.
Transition to the new format will be overseen by Ben Mannion, recently installed Chief Operations Officer for Football Queensland. His appointment follows repeated criticism from Brisbane-based clubs about the implementation of the Queensland State League in 2008, which saw several capital city outfits either return to the Brisbane Premier League or fold entirely.
Mannion said he anticipated eight of the new competition’s clubs will be located south of Bundaberg, highlighting Toowoomba and Ipswich as potential areas that could sustain an APL side in addition to “four or five clubs from Brisbane, plus the Gold and Sunshine Coasts". He also mentioned regions represented in the QSL such as Townsville, Mareeba, Rockhampton and Mackay.
Clubs keen to enter the Queensland division of the APL will have until June 8 to submit expressions of interest. Consultations will take place over the following months with final applications due by August 24.
It is expected that the 12 successful clubs will be announced by Football Queensland in late September.