South Coast could be playing against an A-League club within three years, but they will have to wait for the chance of a regular return to the top flight.
At the launch of the new National Premier League in Sydney yesterday, Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop would not put a timeframe on implementing a promotion and relegation system.
However, Gallop confirmed an FFA Cup competition would be established in coming seasons – raising the potential of the Wolves being drawn to play A-League clubs – but not before 2015.
The FFA yesterday announced the introduction of an NPL competition in each state, starting with five member leagues this season, including NSW.
The champions of each will play off to become the NPL titleholders, which could eventually lead to the introduction of a promotion-relegation structure with the bottom-placed A-League club.
‘‘It’s a possibility down the track, but we don’t have any specific timeline,’’ Gallop said.
‘‘At the moment it’s a possibility.’’
FFA national head of football development John Boultbee said financial constraints led to the decision to create the NPL structure across the existing state leagues, rather than establish one second-tier competition in Australia.
Instead, the FFA Cup will provide the first real bridge between A-League and NSW Premier League clubs.
Similar to the prestigious FA Cup in England, lower league teams would battle it out for places in the main draw, before NSW Premier League clubs were included.
The A-League teams would likely come into the competition in the round of 16.
‘‘The FFA Cup will be quite separate to [the NPL],’’ Boultbee said.
‘‘Obviously the A-League clubs will come in at the end and the National Premier League clubs one step earlier, as part of the hierarchy.’’
Two years ago, South Coast and Illawarra Premier League powerhouse Dapto Dandaloo made the semi-finals of the Waratah Cup.
A similar run would put them on the verge of a showdown with an A-League club.
This season in the English League Cup, mid-table fourth-tier club Bradford City have marched all the way to the final, to be played against Swansea on Monday week.
Gallop said the introduction of the FFA Cup was in the pipeline and was a priority.
‘‘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.’’
The FFA has several issues to confront about the introduction of a promotion and relegation system, among them the timeframe of competition, as the NPL competition is to remain in winter and A-League competition in summer months.
There are also major considerations about the financial impact relegation would have on clubs.
Wollongong Wolves won the National Soccer League titles in 2000 and 2001, before moving into the NSW Premier League when the A-League was established.