Historical powerhouse clubs believe their return to the national stage via a new second-tier competition can help deliver an Australian football renaissance.
Football Australia (FA) announced on Monday eight semi-professional clubs from NSW and Victoria will be included in the National Second-Tier competition, starting in 2025.
FA has not ruled out additional teams from other states, with two or four further clubs to be selected early next year to build a league of at least 10 teams.
"The first priority was getting the best clubs together as we could. Those eight are here today," FA chief James Johnson said.
"There are some very strong bids from outside NSW and Victoria, and we're very excited to see who those two to four clubs will be."
Promotion and relegation from the elite A-League Men's competition and the semi-professional National Premier Leagues will not be implemented for the 2025 season but it has been flagged for the future.
South Melbourne president Nick Maikousis believes the second-tier division has brought the club out of footballing exile.
Crowned as the Oceania Club of the 20th Century by FIFA, the Victorian team has struggled to return Australia's top-tier competition since the demise of the National Soccer League (NSL) in 2004.
South were overlooked for an ALM licence in bidding processes in 2008 and 2018 in favour of Melbourne Heart (now Melbourne City) and Western United respectively.
"For the last 20 years, we've been in the dark ages and this is a real renaissance for us," Maikousis told AAP.
"We were arguably Australia's most successful club, not dissimilar to Real Madrid as European club of the century.
"We just want to be a powerhouse once again. We just want to see Lakeside Stadium rocking again, playing in front of thousands of people.
"This platform is the vehicle for us to achieve that."
Sydney United 58 is included despite controversy from its appearance in the 2022 Australia Cup final.
The club was fined $15,000 and banned from competing in the Australia Cup after some United fans chanted songs with fascist links, booed during the Welcome To Country, and performed Nazi salutes during the 2-0 loss to ALM side Macarthur FC.
FA played down concerns surrounding United's inclusion, saying clubs that fulfil the Club Participation Agreement (CPA) and Club Licensing requirements are "ready and able to join" the second-tier division.
United president Mark Ivancic shares the same sentiments as Maikousis, feeling his once-great club is now out of the woods.
"We always knew there would be an opportunity and we couldn't just survive in this country with one professional league," Ivancic told AAP.
"There had to be some way for us to get back in there.
"It was a long time coming but expected by us that we'd be there."
The competition is slated to commence in March/April 2025, with a regular home-and-away season followed by a finals series.
EIGHT FOUNDATION NATIONAL SECOND-TIER COMPETITION TEAMS
1. Apia Leichhardt FC
2. Avondale FC
3. Marconi Stallions FC
4. Preston Lions FC
5. South Melbourne FC
6. Sydney Olympic FC
7. Sydney United 58 FC
8. Wollongong Wolves FC