In a surprise move, Mandurah City has been promoted to the WA National Premier League by Football West, expanding the elite competition to 14 teams.
Mandurah, who finished second in the state league this season, were preparing for another year in the second tier before being approached by Football West this week.
The club, which has lost just four games in the past two seasons, won the state title in 2015, only to see promotion denied by a minor technicality.
This year, because of a legal challenge against relegation by Subiaco FC and a potential second challenge from 2016 state league champions, Joondalup United, Football West has opted to increase the competition by two clubs with Subiaco retaining their spot.
Club president Tony Dyson was delighted to hear the news and called for the Peel region to support the team in the newly expanded league.
“We have an NPL standard facility, the best coaching staff in the state and now an NPL spot to showcase what Mandurah is all about,” he said.
“There is a lot of work to do, but we will be ready – and ready to compete.”
Dyson said his phone was already red-hot with calls from potential players wanting to try out for the club.
“We need to find more sponsors as well as we will now be representing Mandurah and the Peel region in the second highest level competition in Australia,” he added.
“Commercially there is a fantastic opportunity for local business to join us to really promote our city and region.”
Meanwhile, Football West said in a statement it acknowledged the recent challenges relating to promotion and relegation and wished to reassure members of its commitment to improving the game both on and off the field.
The 2017 NPLWA will be a 26-week competition and the salary cap will remain at the 2016 level.
The additional competition weeks will be absorbed through the modification of the 2017 night series.
Participation rates have spiked by more than four per cent above the state average in the areas around Joondalup and Mandurah over the past four years, while overall registrations in WA are at a record high of 44,000.