Australian Academy of Sport joins state league

Australia's elite development football squad at the Australian Institute of Sport will field a team in the Victorian Premier League conducted by Football Federation Victoria in 2007. The move answers a plea from Football Federation Australia to speed the development of future Socceroos. The Victorians also aim to lift professionalism in the state-based league and force an improvement in managerial and commercial standards by getting rid of all existing clubs at the end of the 2007 season. FFV announced that all positions in the 16-team competition would be spilled and clubs would have to tender for a licence to play at the elite level of the Victorian game. To qualify they would have to meet standards governing financial viability, administration and venue.

"As the A-League has lifted the standard at the national level, so is FFV hoping to raise the standard in the state game so that it can become a genuine second tier for the A-League," Michael Lynch commented in The Age. "Some clubs, such as former National Soccer League powerhouse South Melbourne, hope that if they continue to raise their on and off-field performances, they might be able to bid for an A-League place." South won the VPL last season for the eighth time.

Since the failure of Australia's U-20 and U-17 teams to qualify for their next World Cups. FFA head of high performance John Boultbee sought the inclusion of the AIS in the VPL, as opposed to its closer Sydney equivalent, because the VPL's standard was considered to be higher. "This move will help address the lack of high-quality playing opportunities for our elite youngsters," FFV chief executive Tony Pignata told Lynch. "We are delighted the AIS sees our competition as one in which they can further develop the talents of our most promising footballers."

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