A return to an eight-team men's state league and a Launceston side in the women's could both be on the cards for Tasmanian soccer.
These were two of the major issues raised when representatives of Northern clubs met with Football Tasmania to discuss the sport's direction in the state.
Held between similar meetings in the North-West and South, the competition review workshop also addressed rostering concerns and proposed moving under-16 matches from Friday nights to Saturday mornings to tackle worrying drop-out rates.
Riverside Olympic hosted the meeting which included representatives of the region's other NPL Tasmania club, Launceston City, plus Launceston United, Northern Rangers, North Launceston Eagles and Football Tasmania, including chief executive Matt Bulkeley.
FT has recruited Melbourne-based consultants Sport Business Partners to co-ordinate an independent review into the sport which will be used to help determine future policy.
Both NPL clubs felt it was a constructive exercise.
"It was a really positive discussion," said City's director of football Roger Mies.
"The focus was on identifying strengths and weaknesses in the current structure and how the weaknesses could be improved.
I wish clubs could get together like this more oftenRiverside Olympic president Stuart McCarron
"For me, one of the big things to come out of it was the make-up of the NPL competition because I think nine is too many.
"An eight-team roster seems to be the maximum now and in the past to what the state can sustain.
"I can see them cutting down to eight teams. That was the outcome that seemed to resonate most with everyone."
Olympic president Stuart McCarron added: "I found it very constructive and wish clubs could get together like this more often and have a look at the sport as a whole.
"It was a general discussion about what we need to do to move our game forward."
With Ulverstone the only side north of Hobart in the six-team Women's Super League following City's withdrawal last season, FT felt it was imperative to see a Launceston team return to maintain a talent pathway for the city's female players.
It even suggested a composite team from the Northern region with Riverside, Rangers and United currently sitting first, second and fifth in the women's Northern Championship.
"There was a general consensus that for the Super League to be a statewide competition, there has to be a Launceston-based team," Mies said.
"Each club in its own right might find it difficult but a combined team has been done before and I think it went quite well and that might be the solution to keeping the state league going."
Issues over rostering formed a major part of the discussion and it was suggested that reverting to an eight-team men's statewide league would assist match days based on the eight-team Northern Championship competition.
Concerns were aired about junior players dropping out of the game and a potential solution was to move the under-16 competition from Friday nights at Churchill Park to early Saturday morning at the clubs' home grounds.
"I think it would be a good idea because we seem to be losing a lot at that level," McCarron said.
"We've had this suggestion before and I think Launceston clubs have always liked the idea. Anything we can do to make the transition easier so we do not lose as many players."
Although this could mean games kicking off as early as 8.30am on Saturdays, to be completed before under-18s at 10.30am, it was felt logistical problems were not insurmountable. Current rosters generally having under-18s playing at 10.30am, reserves at 12.30pm and Northern Championship at 2.30pm unless complicated by NPL Tasmania fixtures.
Mies added: "The 16s need to be more aligned with senior clubs to feel part of the family and players are more likely to progress with a natural transition."
It is understood that SBP have begun drafting recommendations based on the regional meetings and a statewide survey.
Conclusions are expected to be announced during July.
Riverside, City and reigning champions Devonport are currently the three Northern teams in NPL Tasmania with Olympia, South Hobart, Hobart Zebras, Kingborough, Glenorchy and Clarence from the South.
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