Sydney Olympic's championship-winning coach Abbas Saad has warned that most clubs in Australia's National Premier Leagues will die unless a second division is set up in two years.
Shortly after leading Olympic to a 3-1 win over APIA Leichhardt Tigers in the NSW grand final, club legend Saad said teams like Olympic were becoming frustrated because they had nothing more to aspire to beyond the NPL.
Olympic deservedly won the match at Leichhardt Oval after taking a two-goal lead at half-time with well-taken strikes from Radovan Pavicevic and Spanish import Alejandro Sanchez.
The Spaniard netted his second on the night before Themba Muata-Marlow narrowed the margin for the Tigers with a penalty in injury time.
The grand final win earned Olympic the premiership and championship double.
Saad said after the match that his delight at Olympic's remarkable achievement was offset by his frustration that he and his players could not test themselves at a higher level.
"There has to be another competition other than the A-League," Saad said.
"If this does not happen in the next two years, many clubs like us will struggle to survive any longer. They will die.
"We have enough talent in the competition to be able to compete in a B-League but at the moment the best players in the NPL are lost ... and I'm not talking about just Olympic.
"The top teams in Victoria and South Australia each have three or four top players but there is nowhere to go for these guys.
"So we're talking about six or seven teams with strong players and once you add a couple of foreigners they will be more than competitive."
Saad said a second division would not only benefit the NPL players who might feel they lack opportunities to play at the highest domestic level but would improve the general standard of the Australian club game.
"For Australian club football to get better not only locally but also internationally we need two strong leagues and I think promotion and relegation would indirectly raise the standard of our clubs and players. I have not doubt about that," he said.
Saad said he was under no illusion that grassroots football was the bread and butter of the game in Australia and it deserved better recognition from the powers that be.
FFA's introduction of the FFA Cup four seasons ago was seen as an olive branch to the NPL clubs that may have been aggrieved by their omission from the A-League in 2005 but Saad believes this gesture is not enough.
"Take today's grand final and the passion of the crowd as two traditional clubs like Sydney Olympic and APIA Leichhardt battled for the championship," he said.
"Hundreds of Socceroos, including myself, came through such historic clubs. But how much more money can these clubs spend on a 'non-existent' league?
"Yes we love to win but what really are we getting out of this? What's the next level for these guys? There is no next level.
"At the end of the day money is going to dry out. Which is why we need a next level for the owners to keep investing in their clubs."