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Football Federation SA expansion plan targets rival league

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South Australia’s Football Federation is seeking to continue expanding its men’s competition, which may mean further raids on the rival amateur league.

Last week, Football Federation SA (FFSA) announced three new clubs would compete in a fledgling State League 1 Competition, effectively a third division — Mount Barker United Soccer Club, Fulham United Football Club and Vipers Football Club.

But the federation is chasing another three to round out the league.

Mount Barker United’s senior men currently compete in the Collegiate Soccer League, but Fulham United and Vipers both play in the South Australian Amateur Soccer League which is not affiliated to FFSA.

And FFSA’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Carter, has confirmed the federation wants more teams on board before the 2016 season kicks off.

“We are in discussion with a couple of clubs,” he said.

The 30 teams currently playing in the state’s highest levels of soccer are currently divided into a 14-team Premier League and a 16-team State League, effectively the second division.

Next year both divisions will be reduced to 12 teams and this year’s bottom six State League teams will be relegated to State League 1, along with the three new entrants.

But, speaking on local Italian community radio 5RTI’s Soccer on 531 program, co-hosted by InDaily soccer columnist Paul Marcuccitti, Carter said: “Our goal is to get to 12 teams within that third tier competition.”

“We feel that that will give us a really strong foundation to then expand further.”

The FFSA boss said State League 1 teams won’t have to meet the same minimum standards required of clubs in the two higher divisions, including perimeter fencing and enclosed players’ races.

“What we’re trying to do is give clubs who want to get into the system … a pathway so that they can enter the federation competition and then potentially work on their facilities over time to improve them, and then they have the potential to move up into the state league competition and then possibly the premier league comp,” he said.

Carter is confident that FFSA will pick up at least another team for next year to make State League 1 a 10-team competition.

This may mean that another Amateur League club is set to cross over. While Carter said that FFSA hasn’t spoken directly to any of the major clubs from the Amateur League’s Sunday competition, an FFSA media release has invited Amateur League clubs to join State League 1.

The release reads: “Is your club an Amateur Club looking for a challenge? Want to move to the next level and join a National Competition? FFSA are inviting clubs looking to take their club to the next level in a National Competition, to join the State League 1 in 2016.”

“If they want to consider coming over, then (we’re) happy to have a chat with them,” said Carter.

The Amateur League sits outside FFSA, which makes its clubs ineligible to play in the FFA Cup, Australia’s national knockout cup competition.

Thus far all attempts to formally bring the South Australian Amateur Soccer League and FFSA together have been fruitless.

Speaking about Mount Barker’s inclusion for next year, Carter said the regional hub was “a very strategic area for us”.

“It’s a very fast growing region of Adelaide and the opportunity for growth in that particular area is significant”, he said.

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