Football Australia officially announced the selection of eight foundation clubs for the inaugural National Second Tier (NST) competition, set to commence in March/April of 2025.
South Melbourne FC is included as one of the initial eight sides to partake in the NST. The Club has been crowned NSL champions four times and have also been awarded Oceania Confederation Club of the Century, making their inclusion in the NST a no brainer.
With the ‘natural theatre’ of the game being missed in recent years, Chairman of South Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis believes the NST clubs will revive the passion and interest for the game in Australia.
“Passion, diversity, history and tradition, these are things a franchise cannot buy and you can’t create that overnight, it comes with decades of work on and off the field”.
“We are looking forward to hearing [the fans] and smelling the cuisines and passion that these clubs will bring to our stadium”.
With the competition missing representation from many states around the country, Papastergiadis outlines what the expectations are and why this may be the case.
“I would suspect that it requires a strategic plan to be put in place over a number of years to get a club ‘game ready’ both on and off the field. As the conversation of the formation of this competition has been recent, it may not have afforded [QLD, TAS, SA or WA] clubs enough time to plan or develop for it”.
With talks surrounding the idea of additional clubs to be added to the eight, Papastergiadis believes over a short period of time the initial eight clubs will become a figure of 16, being populated by teams from all around Australia generating significant interest from sponsors and crowds.
Papastergiadis goes on to highlight what he and South Melbourne look forward to after the announcement.
“Nurturing our talent, engaging the community, giving opportunities to all players and administrators and the buzz of a sold-out Lakeside Stadium cheering on the team, it’s an experience you can’t buy”.
The NST will certainly engage migrant communities and club heritage, making the passion for the game felt across all the clubs involved in the competition, a factor that has that Papastergiadis suggests has been missing at the top level of Australian Football for several years.