Football West has very wisely opted to sit back and watch how the National Premier League structure of the game is implemented in other states around the country, before committing to it 100 percent. This is a very wise move and one that should be applauded, as they will have the benefit of seeing how things pan out in the other leagues and adapting to prevent the same problems arising in Western Australia.
However they are still pushing ahead with making the state league clubs comply with the requirements to be a part of the National Premier League. Which will benefit the game whether they proceed or not.
Clubs in Western Australia however would be wise to cast an eye across the country before accepting such a reform to the State League competition. The current league may not be fantastic and has stagnated in recent years, but it does have history and has managed to survive upheaval in the past. Sometimes it is better the devil you know.
Queensland’s National Premier League is a good example to keep an eye on. In the current league there are only three sides who were in the Hyundai Queensland Premier League of 2012 in the same incarnation.
New sides are in the league this year and according to many already the league has become a three horse race, after just seven rounds. One person involved in Queensland football scene who requested to remain anonymous told “Not The Footy Show” ‘it’s a complete farce and we are only seven games in. With any luck they will scrap it next year and go back to how it was.’ Players from the established clubs stayed with their old clubs and opted to play with them in a lower division, and the sides elected into the top league are simply not strong enough. CQFC have conceded 42 goals in their seven games! Western Pride have conceded 20, while FNQFC have conceded 22.
The model has been to place clubs who meet the criteria on peripheral issues and not the football played on the park in the National Premier League. This has given the state body the chance to put clubs in key development areas. This has a great deal of merit, but in sport you should always have to earn the right to play at the highest level, it should not be given to you because you have clean toilets, spacious changing rooms and a decent car park.
Clubs in Western Australia would also be wise to remember why the National Premier League model, is trying to be rushed through by the FFA. The powers that be promised the AFC when they joined that they would have a second tier competition below the A-League and that there would be promotion and relegation. The deadline for that promise has passed, and the AFC want to know what is being done.
Even if this model does get approved in the West, will we see an NPL club promoted to the A-League, should they win the proposed Champion’s play offs? Could many State League clubs afford to make such a leap? How would an A-League license holder feel to see his club no longer playing in the top league?
Rest assured clubs will again have to meet a new criteria to be promoted, and that will be the protection clause for the current A-League clubs. The one good thing is no club could be precluded because of their ground, as after all no A-League club with the exception of the Newcastle Jets, owns the ground that they play at.