Story via The Leader

St George Football Association CEO Craig Kiely believes St George City would be in a strong position to be considered for a national second division competition.

Football Federation Australia released a discussion paper last month to work towards the establishment of a national second division.

St George City was established by the SGFA board in 2016 to deliver representative and development program pathways on behalf of the association.

SGFA was required to establish a senior entity to compete in the Football NSW State League Men’s competition to achieve their objective of obtaining a National Premier League youth licence for under-13s to 16s to ensure a full pathway from under-9s for aspiring local players.

The club won the Football NSW State League men’s competition in its inaugural season in 2016. From there it was promoted to the NPL 3 competition, which it won last season to gain promotion to NPL 2, the second tier of Football NSW elite men’s competition.

While the club will not achieve promotion to NPL 1 for next season, Kiely believes many of the building blocks for St George City to become the district’s representative in a national second division in the near future are already in place.

The club have access to arguably St George’s best sporting facility in Kogarah’s Netstrata Jubilee Stadium and enjoy support from 23 local clubs made up of almost 10,000 players playing in SGFA competitions, as well as their high level youth and senior football programs.

St George City also have former Socceroo Aytek Genc as head of football who has guided the club up the leagues after building a strong playing squad which includes former A-League players Steve Kuzmanovski and Corey Gameiro.

“The board of St George City supports the concept of a national second division, which will provide increased professional opportunities for players, coaches, referees and administrators,” Kiely told the Leader.

“Naturally, there is much work for FFA and other stakeholders to do around bringing this to life. However if a second division were to happen we believe St George City would be in a strong position to be considered for the competition.

“We are an aspirational organisation that already has the building blocks in place.

“In the space of a few years St George City have built a successful seniors program that provides a true development pathway for local players from the age of 8, which is headed by Aytek Genc.

“Our next aim is to create these opportunities for the thousands of female participants in our area. These programs are only strengthened by our partnership with Sydney FC, which provides further opportunities for our players into the A-League and in the future W-League.

“We believe we are best placed to deliver a professional club representing all of St George at the next level of football in Australia.”

One potential stumbling block for St George City would be Sydney FC, who were vehemently opposed to the potential introduction of Southern Expansion – a team representing the St George district, Sutherland Shire and the Illawarra – into the A-League as part of the A-League’s expansion process.

If St George City were to gain entry to a national second division, there is the potential they could one day fight for promotion to the A-League.

But Kiely said SGFA had a strong working relationship with Sydney FC and believed the A-League champions would have no issue with their participation in a national second division.

Meanwhile, an in-principle deal has been struck for the A-League to be run independently of FFA, the culmination of a years-long battle for control between club owners and the national body, it was announced on Monday.