It's official: the Wollongong Wolves are heading back to Australia's national stage.
Football Australia announced on Monday that the Illawarra NSW NPL club will be among at least eight teams to compete in the inaugural National Second Tier competition.
The NST - which will serve as one rung below the A-League - was originally slated to begin early next year, but FA recently confirmed that it will start in March or April 2025. The Wolves will be joined by fellow NSW clubs Sydney Olympic, Marconi, APIA Leichhardt and Sydney United 58, along with Victorian outfits Preston Lions, South Melbourne and Avondale.
FA plans to unveil two to four more additional teams ahead of the 2025 competition, which will feature two full home and away rounds between all sides plus a finals series.
"This is more than just a competition - it's a cornerstone in our mission to fortify the foundations of our sport," FA chief executive officer James Johnson said.
"The establishment of the National Second Tier is a transformative step for Australian football... it symbolises our commitment to reconnecting the football pyramid and enhancing the competitiveness of our national game.
"The National Second Tier will be instrumental in nurturing talent, engaging communities, and elevating the overall quality of football across the country."
For the Wolves, Monday's announcement caps the club's long-term dream of returning to the highest top-flight domestic competition in Australia.
The plans for a National Second Tier has been in the works since 2017, with the Wolves revealing in March 2023 that they were among more than 30 clubs from across Australia that had lodged an expression of interest for the first NST competition.
In May, that list was been cut to 26 clubs for the next phase of planning.
The Wolves will continue to compete in the NPL NSW competition next year before the NST kicks off in 2025.
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