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Feb 12, 2013

FA Cup-style comp set for Australia

The foundations are in place for Australian soccer to launch a FA Cup-style competition by 2015 while promotion-relegation could happen within five years.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) paved the way for these exciting developments on Wednesday when it announced a restructuring of Australia's semi-professional state leagues which will now fall under the National Premier Leagues (NPL) banner.

Their competitions will run from March to September with the winners to play off in a knockout competition to find a national champion.

"It's an exercise of two years in the making ... this is really a landmark thing for the development of Australian football," said FFA boss David Gallop.

"It means that our semi-pro state league clubs, which have long been the engine room of our player development systems, will have a fresh focus across the country."

Gallop confirmed a report that promotion to and from the A-League could happen within five years but said the FFA didn't have a specific timeline on it.

"Having a more standardised approach to state football is going to allow us to look at promotion and relegation down the track," he said.

He added that work was underway on a FA Cup-type competition to be called the FFA Cup but said that wouldn't happen before 2015.

"Not before 2015 - I think we are all committed to an FFA Cup coming into fruition but we need to make sure the A-League is bedded down before we embark on such a big venture," Gallop said.

"But there is an appetite to do it and there's already people at the FFA working on it."

Under the new state league model, revealed on Wednesday and to be phased in over the next two years, each state and territory will be run by the member federation but under the one NPL banner.

Not all federations will be on board for 2013 but those that aren't will be engaged by 2014 with Victoria, Northern NSW and Western Australia to roll out the NPL changes next year.

When all eight states and territories are on deck, there will be 118 clubs in the NPL.

In NSW, there will be two divisions of their league while there will be just one division in the other states.

Part of the criteria for being in the NPL is a club must have a senior team, an under-20s, 18s, 16s, 14s, 12s and a credited technical director.

"It is something that will allow national benchmarks and the adoption of the national curriculum from under-12s all the way through to senior ranks," Gallop said.

"I think you'll see a lifting of standard and that will mean that the gap between the A-League and back to these competitions will be narrowed."

Under the national competition review, one of the models looked at was a second national competition mirroring the A-League but it wasn't deemed financially feasible because of the costs of having teams travelling around Australia.

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