Coming into the Western Australian NPL game at the weekend Perth Glory Youth had never beaten Floreat Athena. The best they had managed was a 2-2 draw in April 2015.
Leading into the round 20 fixture there was no reason to think that that form would change. Floreat were coming off a 5-0 thrashing of Balcatta and had not lost for three weeks. Perth Glory had won one game and drawn one in their last eight league games.
Interestingly though betting was closed on the game when allegedly a few larger than normal bets were placed on a Perth Glory to win.
Soon after it was revealed that Perth Glory Youth would be playing some of the Perth Glory’s first team squad members in its side. There were some who were up in arms that this should be allowed, but by the rules of the competition Perth Glory had apparently by the required deadline put the players in their squad and submitted it to Football West.
The only issue therefore is how players on professional contracts can be registered in two seperate competitions. Not the Footy Show contacted FIFA and the AFC on this issue a few years ago when the FFA and Football West advised that these players had “dual registration.” There is no such thing as “dual registration” in the FIFA rules and regulations, and all competitions in Australia according to both the FFA and the State constitutions are governed by the FIFA rules and regulations.Both the AFC and FIFA responded advising that. (No Two Ways about it and Third Time Not So Lucky. )
With the NPL in WA having a salary cap the minute these players walk on the pitch the Perth Glory Youth team is in breach of the salary Cap regulations placed on all other teams in the same competition.
Yes, some of the six first team squad players who played at the weekend have turned out for the Perth Glory Youth team in the NPL previously, but never has there been six senior squad players in the starting side. Four of those players – Aryn Williams, Nick Feely, Jamal Reiners and Brandon Wilson- were in the Perth Glory’s FFA Cup winning squad against Brisbane Roar. Two players, Wilson and Reiners both came off the bench to play.
Apart from the registration issue, there is a moral issue here. An issue which flies in the face of the spirit of competition. First of all how would the youngsters who have played most of the season feel suddenly being displaced by first team players?
Secondly without that win Perth Glory’s youth team would have found themselves in a real relegation battle. With the win, and with two games to play they find themselves two points clear of Armadale and four clear of Subiaco. With two teams expected to be relegated at the end of the current season. That win may well be the difference between the Glory Youth finishing in the bottom two or not.
There are some who state that Perth Glory cannot be relegated from the NPL, because there is no second tier NPL in Western Australia. If that is the case then surely Armadale and Subiaco will be able to argue against being relegated on the same grounds?
Perth Glory, on the back of an FFA directive were admitted into the NPL WA and they must play under the same rules as all of the other teams competing, or the integrity of the state’s highest non-professional league has gone. In the Eastern States we have seen A-League clubs junior sides in the NPL relegated so why not in Western Australia? As part of their development as players they must learn the competitive nature of the game. If as a team they are not good enough then its time to drop down a level.
In 2014 the first year of the NPL in Western Australia, Perth Glory finished third last, one point ahead of Subiaco and eight points clear of Armadale. They won four games and drew three. In 2015 Perth Glory finished second last winning five and drawing three of their 22 games. This season the same three teams are at the bottom of the NPL ladder, and before their win at the weekend Glory had again only won four games and drawn three. One thing that is clear, if any of these three teams finish in the bottom two places they should be relegated, as they are consistently struggling at this level.
Another big problem though is the effect these first team players being injected into the team could also have at the other end of the league table.
Floreat Athena currently sit third on the table with 35 points. Had they, as many expected before the squad was announced, beaten Perth Glory they would still have been third, but three points clear of fourth place. Now they find themselves on the same points as Bayswater City and ECU Joondalup and only three points ahead of Sorrento with two games to play. All these teams vying for a top four finish and a place in the finals.
Floreat play Bayswater this weekend in what will be a must win game now. Perth Glory’s last two games are against Balcatta and Stirling Lions and it is unlikely that the results of these games will have any bearing on the final places. However from Floreat’s perspective the result at the weekend could have a huge impact.
If Subiaco and Armadale both manage to find a win this weekend and Glory do not play six first team squad players again, the impact could be huge to them. As they both meet in the final fixture. Then, if indeed two teams are relegated one could possibly leap-frog the Glory if they lose both remaining games.
Whereas Perth Glory has not done anything wrong by playing these players it could have a huge impact on the outcome of the competition. Obviously the betting organisations felt so too by suspending betting on the game at the weekend.
Many of the issues coming to the fore now were raised with Football West when the NPL was being tabled. The clubs were told that it would be a “learning process” and “we will address them when the time comes.”
Sadly by not addressing them earlier, and having rules and regulations set in stone, there is now the possibility that if Floreat miss the finals they could prevent the finals series going ahead on an appeal. The relegation and promotion of clubs could also be up in the air for a similar reason. None of these things are good for the game as a whole. None of these things should even be up for discussion.
This is why it is so important that the FFA and Football West abide by the FIFA rules and regulations by not allowing players registered in one competition to play in another. FIFA may not be perfect in its administration, but its rules are there to protect the game.