NPL a big part of the future says Gallop

FFA chief executive David Gallop believes those clubs which embrace the NPL finals series concept will ultimately be putting themselves in the shop window.

On the eve of the inaugural NPL finals series, Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop believes those clubs which embrace the concept will ultimately be putting themselves in the shop window when expansion of the Hyundai A-League is back on the agenda.

The NPL play-offs kick-off this weekend when NSW minor premiers Sydney United 58 FC host ACT minor premiers Canberra FC at Edensor Park. Olympic FC (Queensland), South Hobart (Tasmania) and Campbelltown City (South Australia) are the other clubs to have qualified for the finals series, which culminates in the grand final on the weekend of October 12/13. It is the first time semi-pro, second-tier, clubs across the country have competed against each other in meaningful competition. Western Australia, Northern NSW and Victoria are scheduled to join the NPL next year to complete the national footprint.

Gallop is excited by the potential - and possibilities - surrounding the NPL, and hasn't ruled out the best clubs from the second-tier eventually becoming part of an expanded Hyundai A-League.

''At this point, expansion, or promotion and relegation, are not on the FFA agenda,'' Gallop says. ''But when we get to that point, it would make sense that those clubs who have shown sound structures, pathways, and management models, while playing in the NPL, would shape up as strong candidates.

''It is the FFA's long-term mission to make football the most popular sport in Australia. To do that we need to form realistic links between all levels of the game. The NPL not only does that, but it also includes clubs that have played a big part in the history of football in Australia.''

Gallop added: ''The inaugural National Premier League finals series is an exciting step forward. It represents another tangible step in solidifying the link between the Hyundai A-League and the grassroots football community. The NPL finals series also allows the participating clubs to get some valuable practice in dealing with the external factors they'll face during the FFA Cup, including travel and the challenge of facing teams they don-t regularly play against.

“It's a step up in class, which is something all NPL clubs will have to deal with when the FFA Cup commences and they could face the likes of Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Heart or Perth Glory.''