A trimmed-down field will emerge in April, once FA has had the chance to assess the credentials of each applicant, with six of the nation’s member federations represented.
The majority of those tabling Expressions of Interest (EOI) are familiar names from the former NSL landscape.
The competition is expected to comprise between 10 and 16 teams, playing between 24 and 36 games, and is scheduled to kick off in March 2024.
The ultimate end-game will see Australia falling into line with the majority of the wider football world, with the introduction of a promotion/relegation model which will do away with the cozy comfort zone enjoyed by the 12 existing A-League clubs.
Interested parties include former NSL royalty like South Melbourne, Sydney Olympic, Adelaide City, Melbourne Knights, Heidelberg, Marconi, Brunswick Juventus, Wollongong Wolves, and Sydney United.
There are also less rusted-on hopefuls like  Brisbane United, Peninsula Power, South Hobart, and even a potential joint venture representing Football South Australia.
Nick Galatas – Chairman of the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) – is encouraged by the number of clubs clamoring to be part of what he believes can be a great leap forward for the code in Australia.
“FA will want clarification from some clubs as it sifts through the list, and will appoint a consulting firm to run the process,” he said.
“They will settle on a provisional list in April before deciding in August on the final makeup of the competition.
“Except clubs in WA, which have said they’re not quite ready, and NT, all states and territories are covered and that’s heartening to see.
“If you count clubs in joint bids (such as South Australia and Brisbane Utd) there are about 30 clubs who have submitted EOIs.
“It shows the aspiration that exists in the game, and it’s all about building a really strong base for the sport in the future right across Australia.
“The aim is harness and build on the passion that exists for these clubs and giving them the opportunity to become part of a national football pyramid.”
FA chief James Johnson has confirmed the prospect of future promotion/relegation once the new league has “matured”.
And Galatas agrees an overnight transformation is not something anybody envisions.
“It will take time for the majority of these aspirational clubs to reach the level required in terms of infrastructure and development, and everyone acknowledges that,” he said.
“This is all about longer-term outcomes and strengthening the foundations of the game.”
Galatas feels the existing A-League structure stifles intensity and is overly protective of clubs spared paying the ultimate price of under-achievement.
“From my perspective, you need football that ultimately has integrity – and that means scrapping and fighting, and doing whatever you have to do to survive if you’re in a relegation battle, for example,” he explained.
“In the A-League everybody can play the same way because it doesn’t matter if you’re down at the bottom with no chance of making the top six.
“I think what fans want to see is real football – at times you’re not seeing that in the A-League because the structural supports that outcome (of safety no matter what).
“The consequences that usually apply aren’t there – so you can play without pressure. So do enough fans care enough about the outcome to stay truly invested?
“Conversely, you can have a mid-table team that has done nothing special during the season but can win a couple of games and is in contention to potentially reach a grand final.
“It creates an unreal type of scenario which traditional football fans, who’ve followed the leagues overseas, find hard to embrace.
“Clubs don’t face the real jeopardy of trying to nick a point here and there to try and survive (at the wrong end of the table). Therefore you often have games that don’t have any real meaning.
“That can translate to a lack of passion for fans, and without that, it’s challenging to generate rusted-on support.
“That’s what we’re missing. Create competitions where there are consequences for where you finish on the table and the fans will care more and follow.
“At the NPL level currently, the top teams feel there is little to play for. Creating the B foundation for a linked pyramid would reward and generate more committed interest in all competitions.
“You want matches that matter, otherwise people can take it or leave it. And right now in the A-League a lot of people are going it.
“We want to see fans taking it, and our top tier flourishing, underpinned and pushed from below.”