The FFA today announced the formation of a new national cup competition.
The FFA Cup will see the best State amateur and semi-professional sides mix it with the big boys from the A-League.
Hundreds of clubs from across the country have already begun early preliminary rounds.
There will be two sides from Football West in the last 32 – the finalists of the Cool Ridge Cup – when the A-League clubs enter the competition.
The creation of the FFA Cup is long overdue. The cup will provide a welcome change of pace from the A-League season, where watching the same ten teams battle it out again and again can become repetitive.
Allowing semi-professional players to get a taste for what is required at A-League level can only help in their development.
There are also benefits for the A-League clubs in allowing them to blood younger players and to help maintain player fitness during the off-season.
If the competition goes as planned for the FFA, it will develop into something similar to the storied FA Cup in England, complete with feats of giant killing and television visits to ramshackle suburban grounds.
At the moment, the smaller clubs have been afforded an advantage by a draw structure that guarantees a semi-final berth for a State side.
I see no problem with this, as the FFA does not want the competition to turn into a pre-season tournament for A-League clubs; a boring, meaningless rehash of the season proper.
It is currently a necessity due to the yawning chasm in quality between professional and non-professional clubs in Australia.
Hopefully, in time, this artificial rigging of the FFA Cup draw will no longer be needed.
But the only way that the gulf can truly be traversed is if we have a pyramid system, a meritocracy with promotion and relegation to and from the A-League.
Unfortunately, this model is completely alien to Australian sports at the national level.
Instead, Australian football follows the example set by the AFL, NRL and Super Rugby competitions, as well as the Major League Soccer model in the United States.
It ultimately comes down to what type of football structure we want to see in this country.
Do we aspire to emulate the best leagues in Europe?
Or do we persist with the franchise model, where clubs are less centres of community life and more commodities to wither and die as quickly as they spring up (see Gold Coast United, New Zealand Knights)?
Can the FFA Cup generate the exciting contests and underdog triumphs that the governing body wants?
Is a true pyramid system a viable option in Australia?