Buyer Beware

October 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm 1 comment

Not the Footy Show caused a stir several months ago when it ran a story (Look in Your Shoe Son ) about the proposed salary cap for the semi professional state league football tournament. Since then the discussion paper has been distributed to all of the clubs and their responses were due in by the start of this week. From what we understand most of the clubs have agreed to sign up to the proposal, which despite them losing money each season seems a little surprising.

The proposal which is expected to be in place as early as next season will mean that all State League clubs will be required to nominate a squad of up to sixteen players who will be paid; No more than 16 and should you wish to add a player you must take one off the paid player list. There will be places for one Marquee player and two “Talented Players” within each squad.

As of 2013 a Marquee player at a Premier Division club can be paid upwards of $400 per week and is to be registered as a professional with an FFA contract. One thing that needs to be clarified here is will a transfer fee be applicable if the player wishes to move clubs prior to  the end of his contract. As most football fans will be aware the FFA do not allow transfers between A League clubs. Will that filter down to the State League and will the FFA say that the development fee should suffice for the local club? In addition should the player be fortunate to be picked up by an overseas club, will the FFA claim the percentage that they currently require on any player being transferred from the A league overseas? These are issues that need to be clarified, or once again the State league clubs could lose out.

The two “Talented Players” will be entitled to be paid a maximum of $250 per week and must also to be registered as professionals with FFA. All of the remaining players are to be paid no more than $150 per week. Apparently allowances have been made for clubs to vary payments to their Marquee/Talented Players pool on the condition that the maximum total paid is not exceeded (ie $900).

In Division one their Marquee player is entitled to be paid a maximum of $200 per week and again must be registered as a professional with an FFA contract. The two talented players may receive a maximum of $100 per week. The rest of the squad are to be paid no more than $50 per week. In Division Two club the Marquee player may only receive $100 per week and is also to be registered as a professional with FFA. The two Talented Players may be paid upwards of $50 per week, and the remainder no more than $25 per week.

Quite why any player would sign a professional contract when they are only earning $200 per week or less when they are in the lower divisions beggars belief; as if they check they will find that they are in fact entitled to earn as much, in fact more as “reasonable expenses” and remain an amateur player. So quite how this will be enforced will need to be explained as the player should not be forced to sign a professional contract if he does not wish to.  As one old pro said years ago when playing semi-professional football ‘if you are playing for the money you are playing for the wrong reasons,’ yet sadly today many players are playing for the money, and these restrictions will simply see some of the top players move into the Sunday league where they can earn more.

There is no doubt that something had to be done to arrest the escalating costs for the semi professional clubs, but is this really the answer? Should Football West be spending time and resources on this when once again these clubs are private enterprises who should live and die by their own mistakes. If they run the club into the ground they only have themselves to blame. Football West should run the competitions, supply referees and find sponsors for the league etcetera.

If sponsors were found for the various competitions and prize money was at a more acceptable level that would ease some of the pain on the clubs. If as should have been the case at the State League Cup Final, Football West manned the gate, and once all of the receipts had been counted deducted costs for advertising the game in the papers, then split the money between the two finalists, there would be an added incentive to make the final. As it was, the host club took more money on the gate than the team that won the cup! That is not a good situation for the league or the clubs.

Where the player proposed player payment system heads into murky water is the proposal that each club be allowed a maximum of $10,000 (Premier Division) that can be contributed to player entitlements via Third Party Payments.

Football West is proposing that these funds cannot be paid for by the club directly. They must be paid for by a commercial sponsor of the club, a club member, a supporter or another third party. These payments are to be fully disclosed with appropriate documentation to Football West. If a player at the club is found to have accepted a third party payment that has not been declared the club and the player will be in breach of the system. It has been suggested when “Not The Footy Show” discussed this with a legal expert, that clubs would be wise to obtain legal advice before signing any such agreement, as ultimately they are agreeing to hand partial control of their club over to the game’s governing body. It was also stated that such agreements between a wage earner and an employer – for want of a better word – are between those two parties and that if a club did sign up to such an agreement with FootballWest they would have to gain the approval of the wage earner before disclosing their personal financial affairs to a third party. If they did so without the player’s permission they would find themselves in trouble. Football West would be hard pressed to force a club to disclose such information with out all parties agreeing for that information to be shared.

At present Football West wants all clubs to agree to the terms and conditions prior to the commencement of the 2013 season. This club sign-off will be in the form of a Statutory Declaration, made under the Oaths, Affidavits and Statutory Declarations Act (2005), to be co-signed by the President, Club Secretary and the Treasurer, a legally binding document which can in extreme circumstances lead to prison if broken.

Football West are also stating that failure to comply with the terms and conditions laid out in the agreement that the clubs are signing up to could result in the expulsion of the club from the League, as it will be deemed a breach of the terms and conditions and the rules and regulations of the competition. Once again signing up to such an agreement could well end up handing Football West the power to cull clubs from the League. Where does a club stand if the Governing body changes the rules and regulations of competition after they have signed up to the agreement, does that void the agreement? These are important questions that need to be asked and answered.

There is no doubt that moves have to be made to try and stop the clubs overspending and pushing themselves down a path of financial difficulty, but why the hurry? Why does this have to be brought in in the next six months? Clubs should be very wary of what they are signing away and any club that does not employ a lawyer to check the contracts that they are signing up to, and the individual player contracts and how they affect the club is letting down its members and its supporters as well as those who founded the club. Surely the goal should be to implement this or a similar system by 2014 so that any areas of ‘discomfort’ can be ironed out.

As for players receiving ‘gifts’ from supporters or sponsors how can you possibly legislate against that? Beware for buying into something that you cannot control completely at your club, and which you cannot get out of should it not work. The future is in your hands, you have a big responsibility club Presidents, don’t forget that.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. All white  |  October 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Once again I do not want to blow smoke where the sun don’t shine, but you are on the money again. Ever thought of running for CEO yourself? We need a bit of common sense and due process in our game.

    If any club signs up to this for next season before carrying out due diligence they deserve all that they get. If I was a player I certainly would not sign with any such club.

    It is time for these bleating clubs to stand up and be counted, and we will find out which clubs have a spine!

    Excellent piece, shame it is not in The West or Sunday Times.

    Reply

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