Victorian Premier League clubs are fearing for their futures past season 2013, after Football Federation Victoria put forward its strategic plan in response to the National Competition Review on Monday.
At a meeting closed to all except representatives from VPL and Victorian Women's Premier League clubs, FFV plans were unveiled for a 20-plus-team competition, without promotion and relegation and including six teams from Victoria's regional areas.
Goal.com understands clubs from Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury/Wodonga and Gippsland will compete, with a maximum of two teams from each of the FFV's eight metropolitan zones.
Each club will be required to field sides in men's, women's and junior competitions.
While it means the much-maligned Victorian Champions League will meet its demise, clubs hoping for an NCR-accredited licence to participate in the new competition would need to implement a substantial overhaul to even be considered.
Club costs are predicted to spiral up to $500,000, while a player point system will also be introduced.
The changes are a result of the findings of Football Federation Australia's NCR, released in May. Other state federations around the country are in the process of implementing their own strategic plans.
Possibly in fear of reprimand from the FFV, who they predominantly believe are forcing clubs to spend beyond their means to be eligible for what is believed a three- to five-year licence, team officials refused to go on the record after the meeting.
One of the few to do so, Dandenong Thunder president Merson Azizi was non-committal on what the strategic plan means long-term for the current VPL leaders.
But he feared the changes could lead to a logistical headache that could compromise the quality of football.
"I think it's too early to say anything at this stage. I think it could work, but it's too early to tell. We need to sit down and discuss everything at the club," he told Goal.com.
"I think we'll be struggling to get quality women's teams across all ages, and that the quality of football will definitely go down. Because when you have a mix of good local and overseas players, teams can be stronger, instead of with a bunch of boys."
The clubs, however, are believed to be concerned about a lack of two-way dialogue, and view the FFV as dismissive of their identities and future development.
It is understood VPL club officials and fans have long feared for their team's future demise at the hands of the state's governing body, with the revelations from Monday's meeting doing little to allay their concerns.
On top of a yearly licence fee of $50,000, a potential sticking point for VPL and WPL clubs is the estimated yearly running cost of up to $500,000, with a fee per junior player tipped to run between $700 and $1000.
Along with these potential difficulties for VPL clubs is the framework of a player points system, where clubs will need to sit under a 200-point limit.
Players accumulate points over the age of 25 and with playing experience at higher levels.
It is understood that none of the VPL clubs currently meet this criteria, with an estimated average of 290 points.
The Melbourne Knights are believed to be the VPL club closest to adhering to the cap at the 205-215 point mark, while Dandenong Thunder and South Melbourne reportedly sit closer to 350.
Goal.com understands that, in response, one VPL club has contacted players union Professional Footballers Australia over a potential restriction of trade.
It is expected that a joint meeting of VPL clubs will take place within the week, with more reaction to the FFV's strategic plan expected in the coming days.