Mathematics is certainly not our strong point, but with a limited knowledge of this subject there are a few things that simply don’t add up.
A year ago Football West decided to start stating how many people were playing football rather than the number of players registered to the State’s Governing body, and playing in their competitions. The reason was to try and combat the AFL who would put down any child who participated in one session of Aus Kick as a participant. As funding is based on these numbers, which are not audited, the move was a wise one.
However to have 228,000 participants and only 43,000 registered players (numbers from FW website) it does not look so good This means that only 18% of the people playing the game are registered and playing in Football West organised competitions. One has to ask where are remaining 185,000 are playing the game?
On their website Football West claims that these 228,000 participants come from 154 countries. We are told that 185,000 come originally from the UK, 24,000 from Malaysia, 16,000 from China, 13,000 from Singapore, 12,000 from Ireland and 10,000 from Indonesia. So from just six of those 154 countries there are 260,000 participants in the game.
Hang on we hear you say, didn’t they say that they have 228,000 participants from 154 countries? Yes. Then how come there are 260,000 from just six? Well if the figures are to be believed football must have closer to half a million people playing in WA than the claimed 228,000.
To add to the confusion the Liberal Party of WA has today pledged in an election promise that they will give $37million to the game and create the much talked about Home of Football, or now named State Football Centre. Yet in their statement they say that there are “more than 230,000 Western Australian soccer players.” So what is the real figure?
The Premier is quoted as saying ““Of Football West’s 44,000 registered players 15 per cent are women, which is an indication of the growing popularity of the sport.” Yet Football West only claim on their website and on the State Football Centre page to have 43,000 and that female participation is at 20%.
The two figures that both Football West and the Liberals do agree on are that 13% of the registered players are from Cultural and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds (CALD) and that there are 32,000 junior players playing the game.
Football West had been asking for in a sum of $30million in 2015 and that figure jumped to $45 million in 2016, so the figure of $37 million looks to have split these two figures.
According to the Press release, money will be invested into “the centre, at Ashfield Reserve on Guildford Road, will include a boutique grandstand to stage events for up to 4,000 spectators, including 700 permanent seats, and an administration centre for Football West and an A-League tenant, such as Perth Glory.”
They have revealed that “The funding includes about $4 million to upgrade playing pitches at nearby Jubilee Reserve for local community use and local sports.”
The Premier Mr Barnett is also quoted as saying that “It will provide a dedicated football facility to host key local, State League and National Premier League matches, W-League games, and women’s internationals and also provide a centre of excellence for talented junior players. Importantly, it will also provide training facilities to support international matches to played at Perth Stadium and nib Stadium and ensure the broader community will be able to experience and engage with international sides.”
The second part of this segment makes perfect sense although Football West’s statement that the “visit of international teams including from EPL add to Tourism impact of $46.1million per sports event at Burswood facility.”(sic) Also the claim that the State Football Centre will “encourage clubs to stay longer for training experience at State Football Centre, boosting visitor expenditure towards Government aim of $12Billion annually.”(sic)
There have been plenty of articles written on how sport promises to generate figures such as these, yet rarely is it actually calculated post event, and rarely are the figures quantified. Certainly it seems hard to believe visiting teams will generate $46million per event.
When Manchester United came to Sydney in 2013 and played an A-League All Stars side, the prediction by those who coughed up the $3million to bring the team over was that the game would generate $16million for New South Wales. The game was held on Saturday night and on Monday morning it was revealed that the game had done just that, generated $16million to the economy! Strange how the figure matched the prediction, and also that they had managed to calculate such a figure in essentially just over 24 hours, and while some visitors had not yet left New South Wales so may well have still been spending money! Maybe a breakdown of the calculations should be a requirement when hosting such events?
What will concern local clubs is Mr Barnett’s comment that the facility will host State League and NPL games. Already the clubs are bleeding financially in a league that has little or no promotion. Take the Night Series which starts tonight, where has been the advertising of this long running tournament? Many were not even aware it was starting, let alone who was playing and where. The statement by the Premier implies that the State Football Centre will look to host games, and thereby rob clubs of vital home games and the chance to generate much needed revenue. This should come as no surprise as the former CEO stated when Football West was searching for a venue to house the State Football Centre that he expected the centre to host Friday night and Sunday games.
Of course all of this will amount to nothing if Mr Barnett and the Liberals lose the election, unless of course Labor also back the Centre. Even if his Government do win office again based on the number of broken election promises made in 2013 there is no iron cast guarantee that the funding will ever reach football.
Just as in this case the numbers do not appear to add up, rarely are a modern-day Politician’s election promises kept.