Lowy wants relegation-promotion

FFA chairman Frank Lowy is looking to introduce a relegation-promotion system to the A-League to strengthen Australia's ranking in Asia and enhance its bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

The system wouldn't come in for at least another five years but Lowy believed it was the only way for the A-League to be respected abroad.

The billionaire said it was likely the eight-team A-League would grow to only 10 teams for 2009-10 season, rather than the 12 that was mooted by FFA chief executive Ben Buckley.

New Gold Coast and Townsville franchises are set to be introduced next year while second teams for Sydney and Melbourne will likely have to wait until 2010-11.

"I think the first (expansion) will be 10 because with Sydney and Melbourne we need the clubs to agree to it because they have a five-year moratorium," Lowy said.

"I think to absorb four teams at the one time may just be a little hard and there will be some risks. We don't want to take those risks."

Lowy also suggested 12 teams was only a stepping stone.

"Why stop at 12? The sky is blue, the future is great," he said.

The Asian Football Confederation this week kept Australia's representation to two spots in next season's Asian Champions League, while handing Iran four and India one in the new 32-team format.

It rated Australia seventh of the 46 AFC member associations, according to criteria including governance, marketing, media and stadiums.

China, likely to compete with Australia for the right to be the AFC's preferred option for the 2018 World Cup, rated third.

Lowy believed the reason for the low rating was the absence of a relegation-promotion system in the A-League.

"Promotion and relegation is the lifeblood of the game, so we can't ignore it and we won't ignore it," he said.

"By the time the (2018) World Cup comes there will be promotion and relegation, we will probably have a lot more teams and ... I believe we are going to move forward in big steps, as we are now."

Lowy did not specify the minimum amount of teams he would need in the league for a relegation-promotion system to function well, saying the most important thing was to create a strong second-tier league and that would take time.

Looking ahead to next week's FIFA congress in Sydney, Lowy said it was 'extremely important' to prove Australia can be great hosts in the long lead-up to 2018.