When it was announced on Tuesday that current Premier League side Bunbury Forum Force would not be playing in the new National Premier Leagues competition next season, and would be replaced by Subiaco, the strength of feeling against the decision was strong, and not just from the country areas.
Having talked about taking football to the outlying areas to involve more children playing outside of the metropolitan area, the news that none of the clubs in the South West of Perth, Bunbury, Rockingham or Mandurah were accepted into the NPL came as a greater shock.
One thing that Football West may not have banked on is the fighting spirit of country people.
Not the Footy Show understands that Bunbury’s omission has garnered political support from all parties, and that those MPs supporting the club’s inclusion in the state’s premier football competition are advocating funding cuts to Football West.
Even if that does not happen there is no doubt the spending of Football West’s funding in country areas is likely to come under more scrutiny in the future, and the dream of a Government subsidised “Home of Football” may well take a hit. Certainly there will be no more cases, as happened recently, of a staff member flying to a Port Hedland for a two hour meeting and flying back at a cost of in the region of $2000. The staff member will be expected to do a little more in the community to justify that cost.
What is the solution? A 14 team league has been suggested, but is that really the best option? Without midweek games there may be a problem fitting in the fixtures. Would that help the standard of football?
The NPL was rushed through to meet an FFA deadline. Western Australian football is now paying the price. Will those current Premier League clubs selected for the NPL stand behind Bunbury or simply pay them lip-service? It would be wise for them to consider how they would feel if the boot was on the other foot, as in the contract they signed to join the NPL it states:
“Football West reserves the right to revoke a Club’s licence for failing to comply.” . This application is only in respect of the 2014 – 2015 seasons of the National Premier Leagues – WA. Any successful application for the 2014 season is subject to a review at the end of the 2014 and 2015 seasons and the Club continuing to meet the eligibility criteria; . c) Participation in the National Premier Leagues – WA for season 2016 and beyond, will be subject to compliance of all criteria for 2014/2015 and new criteria that may be introduced; “
Clubs were worried about the cost to them becoming a part of the NPL, it now looks as if the cost to Football West and the game as a whole, could be greater than anticipated.