Football Victoria is planning to expand its NPLW junior program for 2021, increasing the number of clubs from 10 to 24 teams. It is proposed the 24 teams be split into two divisions of 12.
A workshop meeting took place on March 11 with technical directors of the 10 NPLW clubs attending.
A second workshop took place last month via online medium Zoom, with committee members from the existing 10 junior NPLW clubs as well as some Metro clubs including Preston Lions, Glen Eira and Surrey Hills in attendance.
This plan has been in the works for a while, and comes at an uncertain time for football with FFA facing major financial troubles. There are also major calls for state federations to be canned to cut costs.
If this expansion happens there is expected to be a grading period of three games, with six groups of four teams initially playing off, which will determine which division a team goes into.
There will then be two rounds of 11 games meaning each club plays 27 games, the same number they presently do. The system is designed to be similar to the junior boys NPL, which expanded to 48 teams this year.
The expansion of the junior girls program will be welcomed by many clubs in Melbourne, a number of whom have been unhappy their best juniors have gone to the current NPLW clubs.
However, there are many who will simply see the expansion as a money-making exercise, which will raise revenues but dilute the already limited talent pool in Victoria. At present NPLW junior licenses are $3,000 for clubs.
The plan is for junior clubs to feed into a limited number of senior NPLW teams. The idea being more juniors will be given a chance to get elite-level training, with only the best making it to senior level.
At present there are only eight senior NPLW clubs in Victoria, after Southern United and Geelong Galaxy United had their senior license pulled last year.
A second tier called the VPLW was created this year for senior women which had Southern United, Galaxy United and eight other clubs.
There is no plans at this stage for promotion or relegation between the NPLW and the VPLW, however it is uncertain what will happen in 2021.
There is also another proposal that FV are understood to have put forward which contains more than 10 but less than 24. However it is expected that 24 teams will get the nod, which will lead to at least $72,000 in revenue or more if the license fee is increased.
A decision on whether the expansion will go ahead may not be for a while with uncertainty around football at the moment.