Gallop confirms FA Cup-style comp in works
David Gallop at the launch of the National Premier League. Photo: Getty Images
Imagine the part-timers of Belconnen United taking on A-League heavyweights Melbourne Victory, or perhaps Canberra FC squaring off with Alessandro Del Piero's Sydney FC.
That dream is another step closer to reality with Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop confirming an FA-cup style competition could begin as early as 2015.
It is part of a complete overhaul of state-based competitions announced on Wednesday, with the ACT Premier League and other state leagues rebranded under the National Premier League banner.
The ACT winner will qualify for a national play-off at the end of the winter season.
Five federations will make the switch this year, with Victoria, Northern NSW and Western Australia coming on board next year.
But most exciting is the prospect of amateur teams taking on the professionals in a tournament based on England's FA Cup.
Gallop said while the FFA's main focus was consolidating the A-League, a knockout competition including clubs from the lowest level all the way to the top was on his organisation's agenda.
''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.''
Eight clubs will be involved in the inaugural edition of the NPL Canberra - Cooma Tigers, Belconnen United, Canberra FC, Canberra Olympic, Canberra City, Monaro Panthers, Woden Valley and Tuggeranong United.
The AIS will also field a team, but won't be eligible for finals.
Each club will be bound by higher standards, which includes having a qualified technical director, a player points system to encourage youth development and fielding teams from under-12s all the way to the elite level.
Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid said the rules would be lenient at the start as clubs adapted to the new procedures.
''We've been working with our clubs to make sure they're on track with what's required with this new second-tier competition,'' Reid said.
''We're not going to be hard and fast with enforcing everything in 2013.
''We'll work with the clubs to make sure they can meet all the criteria by 2015, so it's a phasing-in process.''
Reid expected the head coach would double as the technical director at the majority of clubs.
Another benefit is a revised compensation system to reward clubs that produce A-League players.
Gallop said the level of $3000-$5000 would rise to $6000-$10,000.
''It's an exercise two years in the making … this is really a landmark thing for the development of Australian football,'' Gallop said. ''It means 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.''
NPL Canberra begins on March 9.
Plans are under way for a women's NPL to begin next year.