EDGEWORTH administrator Warren Mills said the focus will be on giving Newcastle football a voice in the potential formation of a second-tier national competition when he attends a meeting in Melbourne next Monday.
The Association of NPL Clubs board will be formed at the meeting and Edgeworth, the two-time defending Northern NSW NPL champions, have been asked to represent the region.
Frustrated by Football Federation Australia’s NPL structure and absence of promotion to the A-League, major NPL clubs announced the formation of the association on March 8 with a view to creating a new competition. While Mills recognised it was unlikely a Newcastle club could afford to compete in a weekly national league, he believed it was crucial for the area to be involved.
“We’re certainly doing it for Edgeworth Eagles, but we’re certainly also doing it for Newcastle football,” Mills said. “I think it's important we have a voice there. While we’re flattered and more than happy to be the club representing this area at the moment, our major focus is fact that Northern NSW needs to be represented.
“It’s about making sure if this goes ahead that we get a side in it. If we happened to be accepted but no club from here could do it, that’s something we can do then, but if we miss out in the first place, you’re never going to get in.”
He said “if you start talking $300,000 to $500,000 to run a team in this league, no Newcastle club could do that”. However, he said a combined NNSW team could be an option.
“The step from the NNSW NPL to A-League is massive so I think we need to have a Newcastle presence in that second tier,” he said. “It’s important for the standard of the game.”
“With a Newcastle team in it, it will help bridge that massive gap. It would give the good youth around here an easier path to make it. Once they start playing in the second tier, they might make it to the Jets. I think it would be a great thing for the city.”
Mills said “FFA had recognised the March 20 meeting. It’s something that’s going ahead and they know”.
There is reportedly support from state federations but NNSW Football chief David Eland said on Monday that his organisation “has had no contact whatsoever in relation to the proposed formation of Assocation of NPL Clubs or a second-tier competition. I have advised clubs of this fact this morning.”
Adamstown Rosebud were the last state league club from Newcastle to play at national level, competing from 1984-86 before hitting financial trouble.
Mills said discussing funding to cope with the travelling and accommodation costs of a national league was “one of the major priorities”.
“I’m sure every club in Australia would struggle with travel costs and everything else because we’re one of the biggest countries in the world,” he said.
“It’s not just Newcastle, but we’ve got some of the smallest clubs and I think it would hurt us more than most.”
He said organisers of the Association of NPL Clubs “hope to form a totally open, transparent board with a representative from each state federation” to make it a truly national league.
An Association of NPL Clubs board will be elected on Monday and Mills said he would accept a position if offered.