The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same.

October 2, 2014 at 3:14 pm 1 comment

There will be disappointment in the Western Australian Football community this week when once again the aim of the structures recommended in the Crawford Report will be shown as being ignored.

The State League Standing Committee which has in the past been criticised for a lack of unity and also leadership put together a detailed document as to how they believed the NPL and integration with the State Leagues should work in the future. The State League Standing Committee did not reach these conclusions on their own. They should be commended for creating a survey and inviting interested fans, players coaches and club officials to share their thoughts on a number of options which had been tabled.

They are also to be commended for their transparency, as the results of this survey were published and broken down for all to see.

In the Crawford report the Standing Committees were suggested, so that the game could be more self governed. They were to be created to give the stakeholders a say in how the game was run. In recent times the standing committees have many times let the stakeholders down, but not in this instant, where they followed a true consultive process and put forward a balanced and well thought out pathway forward.

Sadly the powers that be have opted once again not to listen to what the clubs and many of the stakeholders want, and it is apparently the Football West Board who have voted some of these recommendations down. Some are questioning why this is in fact a board decision. The Board employs staff to run the competitions at Football West and also staff to administer the game as a whole. Surely therefore the final call should have been negotiated between the Standing Committee and Football West Staff?  The Board’s role is to ensure that goals they set for Football West are met and that due diligence exists in the way the organisation is run and the game administered. Interference in the day to day running of competitions is surely stepping outside of their remit?

Whatever your view, they have decided that only one club will be promoted and one relegated in the 12 team leagues. However this will be dependent on the promoted club meeting the all criteria to be in the NPL. A criteria that needs to be made very clear now, so that clubs with ambitions to be promoted can make sure that come the seasons end they have everything in place. This criteria also needs to currently be in place with every current NPL club, or it will make the NPL look like a closed shop, in which only the chosen few can play.

Hopefully all clubs will receive a copy of the criteria required to take their place in a higher league in the next few weeks. This criteria has to be in place before the start of the season and cannot be altered once the whistle sounds for the first game.

For some reason the Board has also stipulated that if the first placed team does not meet the NPL criteria then only if the second placed team was second by a margin of five points or less will they be considered for promotion. Quite why such a rule is being implemented is hard to fathom. Sadly once again accusations of the Board protecting the hand-picked NPL teams is bound to arise because of it.

There will be no play-off between the second bottom club in the division above and the clubs in second place in the divisions below as recommended. One of the three reasons given in a document sent to clubs was:

“it will affect and disrupt too many junior NPL players causing considerable movement of those affected and disrupted players between NPL and non-NPL clubs thus destabilising the competition and defeating many of the aims of the NPL. The relegation of each NPL club affects about 100 players;”

However this would only be the case if the Junior teams are “coupled” with the senior sides.

One thing the NPL has done is force its clubs to have teams at all junior age levels. Ever since that was announced warning bells have sounded as to what would happen when relegation and promotion were brought in. Despite having a year to think about it and make a decision, no one is any the wiser on what will happen when relegation comes in in 2015. According to the document sent out this week “The Board of Directors has deferred a decision on this matter and has instructed Football West staff to do further work in relation to the issue of “coupling”. This will be undertaken in the coming weeks in consultation with all relevant parties including FFA and other Member Federations.” As stated previously this should have been thought through and a decision made before the NPL was created.”

The fact that this was not addressed by the former Technical Director at the FFA Han Berger as he went around the country extolling how great the NPL would be for Australian football is a bit of a mystery. As a similar system was introduced in Mr Berger’s home country The Netherlands, and teams were “coupled” and when relegation occurred all the junior teams of the relegated teams collapsed, because the parents had been told – just as they have with the NPL – if little Jimmy wants to make it as a professional he has to be playing for an NPL team. Based on this knowledge it should have been a no-brainer for Mr Berger that teams should definitely not be “Coupled.” Quite why he failed to make a call on this is baffling

For those who believe promotion and relegation is assured in season 2015, there is a rider in the document sent out and it reads “It is important to note that while the issue of promotion and relegation has been agreed to by the Football West Board, the mechanics and consequences are, to a certain extent, dependent on the resolution of the issue of this “coupling” investigation and deliberation.”


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. All White  |  October 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    The question I have is if the NPL is a National competition which everyone claims it is, why have the rules and regulations to be a part of it not been standardised by the FFA so that every state knows where ether stand?

    This should not be the role of the Board of Football West. They already dirtied their hands by becoming involved in the selection process rather than using independent people. Now they are appearing to protect those they elected. Can imagine one member being very vocal!

    Not taking anything away from Bayswater who were the best team by a mile, the league was very very poor this year. If this is the future the game is in real trouble.


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