Look in Your Shoe Son

June 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm 6 comments

In the days where amateur sport was fiercely regulated and players were not allowed to receive any financial reward for their performances, after a game players would often find money rolled up in their shoes from the Board or sponsors.

It would appear that we are heading back down that path in football in Western Australia.
Currently on the table is a plan for no State League Premier League club to pay any player more than $200 per game, and all club Presidents to sign a Statutory Declaration stating that they will not pay any player a dollar more.

The club Presidents may need to be reminded that this is a legally binding document, but one wonders what punishment they can expect to receive if their club is caught paying a player more. If as alluded to a sponsor decides to reward a player with some cash, there is nothing the club or the President can or would want to do to stop that.

The idea of trying to stop the state league clubs sending each other to the wall is an honorable one, yet the current ideas on the table will fail. Sport has for over 100 years found ways in which players and clubs can by-pass rules on payments in order to gain an advantage over their fellow competitors, and no salary-cap style rule will change that; The A-League clubs, NRL Clubs and those in the sport we don’t mention are all proof of that. Also let us not forget that the FFA, our games governing body tried to ‘buy votes’ for our World Cup bid, is that not a similar form of inducement? If so what is the difference?

The plan being proposed is also advocating that no club outside of the Premier League pay any player. Nothing at all. Hopefully they are not expecting that to be the case with coaches, as there are already far too few quality ones out there, we cannot afford to lose more.

The only way that you can possibly hope to monitor or control such a situation is with the help of the Tax Office. There has long been a threshold at which ‘amateur athletes’ are allowed to earn money tax free as reasonable expenses incurred for them to play to the high level that they have reached. This level should be made clear to all players and they should be given an option by the club whether they wish to remain an amateur or sign as a semi-professional player. If they opt for the later, payment is recorded and is obviously taxable. The benefit however is that if another club wishes to sign that player you would possibly be able to ask a transfer fee, with the amateur you wave that goodbye.

Currently clubs are paying players higher than the amateur threshold and have no hold on a player or a right to compensation unless they have helped develop them. By having a more open payment system and one that is done in co-operation with or Policed by the Tax Office, clubs would have to cut back on the current inflated match payments that players are receiving and may indeed prolong their own lives.

There is no fool-proof method to fix this problem as someone will always find a loophole or a way around it to entice a player to their club. The sentiment is right in that State League Clubs are suddenly paying close to $100k a year on players wages to win a prize worth just $15k. That simply does not make sense. Some would say go out and find bigger sponsors, that is all well and good but the product has to be good and it has to have media coverage in order to attract sponsors. Football West have certainly boosted that exposure with a number of options on Football West TV and a deal with the West Australian, but still any half decent players are being poached from over East. As for those coming through quite simply the standards are declining, despite the state having more academies than probably ever before. Tricks a footballer doth not make!

This is a situation that the clubs have created and it is one that that they must sort out. The biggest problem is that age old one of trust, not all of them trust each other to comply, and what is going to happen when two clubs refuse to sign the statutory Declarations?

This is being discussed at the state League standing committee level, yet not every State Premier League club attends this meeting, so having all agree to such a proposal and adhere to it is going to be tough.


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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. all white  |  June 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Brilliant piece! Well said. The clubs have only themselves to blame, and one has to ask is this really an issue for Football West to concern themselves with? Sometimes it appears that their management love to get involved in these type of issues that mean lots of meetings and discussions to try and these justify they are actually doing something.

    There seems to be a lot of talk but very little action and if they push ahead with this everyone on the Standing commitee should be sacked, as it shows that they do not have a clue how sport works. Then again most are only there for the freebies rather than the game.

    You make a valid point with the investment to win a pittance and although I agree the standard is very poor compared to ten years ago, Football West could surely do more to attract a bigger pool of prize money. Maybe you can confirm that this is less than ten years ago, even though WA is booming?

  • 2. Paul  |  June 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I will be interested to sit back and watch how this will be policed

  • 3. Anthony  |  June 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I disagree that the standard of young players is declining, I believe its the opposite. We have had a number of WA boys that are playing at a high standard overseas. Plus we have the NTC which has the cream of the crop (or at least a decent % of them). The problem is that the best youth players bypass the state league or at least the state league teams.

    • 4. Struth  |  June 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Indeed – List How Many and for which club overseas – people who disagree and dont put up the numbers to substantiate their comment are in abundance world wide .

      • 5. Anthony  |  July 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm

        Chris Herd, the williams brothers, Cam Burgess is heading off soon, Julius (can’t think of his second name) at Bayen, Eli babalj. Just a few examples of some of our young stars that are abroad at the moment. (Apologies for the late response but its been a while since I’ve been back on here)

  • 6. notthefootyshow  |  June 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Paul – Agreed a very hard job.

    Anthony – Thanks for your comment We do currently have some excellent players coming out of WA of that there is no doubt. IN fact I believe in the next 5 years WA will have 5-6 players in the Socceroos squad

    It would be interesting to see exactly where these players have come from and whether it is the youth programmes at clubs such as Joondalup that are nurturing that talent, or whether it is the NTC programme. I don’t have the figures.

    There are benefits to the NTC but as yet I am not convinced the success rate is where it should be, but to be fair it has not been operating long enough to judge properly.

    The one thing that is clear from watching younger players coming through is how some of them are sadly well behind in their development in terms of touch, positional play and strength on teh ball. This is why the exceptional ones stand out. Many to whom teh State League will be the highest level they play are sadly a long way behind where they should be for their age, and I for one believe that sometimes – not all occasions – the NTC, and similar systems can actually be detrimental to a players development. They are extremely beneficial to others but should never be the be-all and end-all.


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