Let us start with the structure of the League, it has been agreed that State League clubs will nominate their preferred home kick-off times from a list of possible options. Surely the governing body should control these at all times?
The simplest way of doing this is to send out the proposed fixture list, clubs may then come back with requests to change times and dates for a number of reasons. These requests are evaluated and the revised fixtures sent back to the clubs a final time and are then locked in.
If a broadcast partner has been negotiated they should be locked in for the same time each week, as this will build up listenership, having them cover games on different days at different times does not work.
Each club’s squad is to be assigned shirt numbers which they will retain for the season. The State League Standing Committee will recommend to Football West whether or not names will be displayed on shirts. Either all clubs will have names on their shirts or none.
Promotion and relegation between the State League and the Sunday League will be removed at the end of the 2012 season. Entry into the State League after that time will be by application only.
From 2012, it was proposed that there be a two team structure which will replace the current three team format. There will be a first team, and an under 21 side with a maximum of three overage players. However this is currently up in the air. This will be good for the clubs on many levels, less time at the ground for volunteers, less wear and tear on the pitch so when the first team play it will be in good condition and any youngsters being pulled up for the first team will not have to wait for another game to be played.
This will force a large number of players to move to the amateur leagues, and with a lack of venues Football West is going to have to secure grounds or lose a large number of players. There is the talk of the creation of an Elite 18s competition down the track.
The Competition will see the existing 24 clubs split into multiple divisions, the Premier division (10 teams), 1st division (minimum 10 teams) and 2nd division (as the competition grows – minimum 10 teams). There was a planned moratorium on relegation from the Premier Division for a period of 2 years, although this may not eventuate now, which is good. Why this is necessary apart from the existing Premier League clubs protecting their patch it is hard to see.
However this could well be linked to the fact that admission to the State League Premier Division will be on the condition that a club meets the minimum venue requirements. This is where problems start to arise. As commendable as it is to request the standard of the venues and the viewing experience improve, this format is nothing more than protectionist.
Surely the current league should have been shut down and all clubs who wished to be a part of the new league submit for a place in the revamped league. The clubs should be required to have to pay a bond (the money to be used to pay players if clubs default on payment of players) to take part in the league, they should have a five year business plan on which progress must be reported and they should be required to meet some of the requirements we are about to outline within that five years. Football West should assist them in negotiations with local government when hurdles are put in the clubs way. A pre-season tournament would determine which teams are in what division and we move ahead from there.
Another option would be, and this would be radical and possibly unpopular, that for two years clubs do not pay players, freeing up the money that will be necessary for the grounds to be upgraded. No doubt there would still be payments made by some clubs but, say the wage bill is $35-45,000 a season, in two years you would have saved $70-90,000 which could assist in upgrading the facilities to a very good standard.