Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

The Football West Gold Medal dinner has quite rightly become the main event in the football calendar in Western Australia, and congratulations must go to Anthony Green and Jodie MacCullum, for raising the bar during their time at Football West. Also to Ben Fitzpatrick and Kiera Treloar for picking up the baton and continuing to maintain and improve the standard set. All we have to do now is make sure that the players respect the event and dress appropriately.

It is a measure of how big the event is now that decisions have had to be made as to how many people receive invitations to attend free of charge. During my brief time at Football West that number was reduced from close to 200 free tickets to under 100 as we tried to claw back a $35k loss on the night from the previous year.

This year it appears that the administration are trying to do the same, as again they are limiting the number of free tickets issued. Or are they?

We have been advised that the board have taken a decision to invite only “the mainstream media,” at the expense of some of the local outlets who have supported the game. By mainstream media it is supposed that this will mean The West Australian and The Sunday Times. The latter has to be fair, given the league coverage. The West has not, but will be the best way of giving major sponsor McInerney Ford exposure, as they are bound to give the winner exposure in the Saturday edition. Which is ultimately good for the game.

We hear that Heritage FM who covered the league on the radio all season have not been given free tickets, which if true, is downright embarrassing. The same applies to the team at these guys gave the only internet coverage to the state league for many years and are still the first point of call to many followers of the game. To shun them now is rude and downright foolish.

What we do hope we will not see on the night are the board members attending with their partners and having claimed two tickets free of charge. Especially based on their attire at the Soccer Pools Cup Final, where Joe Claudio and Anna Liscia did not show our game the respect it deserved, with the former presenting medals in jeans.

It is also hoped that we do not see commercial television and radio stations who refuse to acknowledge the existence of the state league, being given tickets ahead of people dedicated to the game, who work week in week out trying to promote it on community radio. These people have kept the game alive and it is wrong to ignore that fact. If the commercial media are invited, and there is no extra coverage gained next season we as stakeholders in the game need to look at why they were invited, and if was it for Football’s gain or for their own or the board member’s business’ gain?

As annoying and unjust as this whole ticket issue appears to some, the stakeholders need to start looking inward. The stakeholders appoint the standing committees who in turn appoint the board. Are the right people on the standing committees? Are the standing committees doing what the Crawford Report gave them power to do? This has to be brought into question as two of the standing committees at the last board election, had no representation. One still does not to this day. Should one person be allowed to be a representative on two standing committees? Does a standing committee of two people represent the views of the whole state, and if their views differ how do they vote? These are all questions that the stakeholders need to address.

The whole idea of the Crawford Report was to give the power to the stakeholders, however it appears that the stakeholders in a lot of cases show little regard in the processes, and then are very quick to moan when their voices are not heard.

The stakeholders appoint the board and trust them to oversee the running of the game by those employed by Footballwest. Too often the board interferes with the day to day running of the game, and that is why I believe the structure needs to be reviewed, but if we are sticking with the same structure a strong CEO appointed. The latter is unlikely as the board are not going to what a strong CEO who stands up to them.

One question that still has not been answered is why when the last CEO left in June of 2009 are we waiting for a new CEO to be appointed after the end of the season? The board have had a member running the organisation, and Mr Martin appears to have been trying very hard, but that is not the right way for the game to be run, by a board member.

Mr Martin, inherited an organisation short on finances, and is looking to minimise the losses on the Gold Medal night, which is commendable and understandable. However it is a tightrope that is being walked in regards to looking after those who have genuinely assisted with the promotion of the league in 2009 and who honestly merits a free ticket to our gala night.

Someone is always going to be upset, but let us hope that sense prevails and the advice given to Mr Martin and the board is sound and not veiled in self interest.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
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