Former South Melbourne FC Chairman Nick Galatas, will become the new chairman of the Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC), the peak body representing NPL clubs in Australia.

As one of the co-founders of the AAFC in 2017, Galatas drew up the constitution for the fledgling organisation serving as AAFC deputy chairman and its legal advisor for Regulatory and Legal matters, since his retirement as SMFC Chairman at the start of 2018.

He represented the AAFC at meetings convened by FIFA and FFA, and the subsequent Congress Review Working Group which ultimately led to the formation of an expanded FFA Congress.

He will assume the position of AAFC chairman at the organization’s AGM meeting in Melbourne in July, where he’ll replace incumbent chairman Rabieh Krayem who leaves to become the new chairman at NSW’s newest A-League club, Macarthur FC which is scheduled to join the expanded league competition in season 2020-21.

Galatas’ appointment to the AAFC chair comes days after the FFA released its White Paper on a national second tier competition, based on consultations with the National Second Division Working Group on which Galatas served as an AAFC representative.

The white paper provides the clearest roadmap so far towards the establishment of a national second-tier competition, including recommendations and considerations which will be reviewed by a specially formed steering committee. Galatas will also be one of the two AAFC representatives on the newly formed steering committee to be chaired by FFA Board member Remo Nogarotto.

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Following the announcement this week of his appointment, Galatas responded to interview questions from Neos Kosmos regarding the second tier competition.

When asked how far the idea of a National Second Tier competition has come towards realisation, Galatas replied:

“The board of FFA has accepted the recommendations of the White Paper to progress with establishing it and to form a subcommittee to take it forward and establish the model. Expressions of Interest from clubs and interested parties will be sought later this year with a view to selecting the initial clubs early next year for a start as expected in 2021/22.

The clubs will be selected based on meeting criteria which have not yet been determined. That’s the task of the subcommittee.

“I expect there will be at least 20 interested clubs and perhaps amalgamations of clubs from smaller states and probably more. I would be surprised if the second division didn’t start with at least 12 clubs and more likely more. The clubs will be selected based on meeting criteria which have not yet been determined. That’s the task of the subcommittee.”

Whilst the idea of a sustainable national second tier competition, may have initially met with considerable scepticism, it now seems inevitable that it will soon be a part of the Australian football landscape with the support of the game’s major stakeholders. When asked about this change in attitude, Galatas replied, “I don’t know why sceptical parties have changed their mind. You’ll have to ask them but AAFC welcomes the positive contribution of the FFA, led by Remo Nogarotto and supported by Chairman Chris Nikou and his board, as well as the PFA, and the Member Federations. Football Victoria and Football SA have been especially supportive.”

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On the question of relegation from the second tier and promotion into it from below, Galatas commented: “The model hasn’t been established yet and I don’t want to pre-empt it. One of the considerations in the White Paper is that promotion and relegation to and from below, the NPL, will start a short time after it commences. It is AAFC’s position this should happen and as soon as possible.

“We stand for a linked pyramid of all levels of the game. We will start with the second division being linked to all tiers below.

“The NPL Clubs will benefit (from a national second tier competition) because some will play at a higher level and others will have that opportunity. The others will hopefully be relieved of the financial and other burdens of being the notional second division or tier in the absence of a true second division.

“We also support the introduction of a second division for women which we think is critical of the development of the women’s game.”