‘Do as I say not as I do’ is the edict on which many a great dictatorship is built, and it would appear to be live and well within Football in Australia.
As mentioned on this site previously the National Premier League is a great idea and would be good for the game but it must be thought through properly and not rushed. It must be created on strong foundations.
Understandably, with no A League club truly committed to youth development, the FFA want the emphasis in the new National Premier League to be on youth. To ensure this is the case they have proposed a points system for each player in a restricted size first team squad. Each player is initially worth ten points and the squad has a target of 200 points. ‘Visa players’ will have +10 points added to their existing 10 points. A ‘standard player’ will have a +1 point but also another +1 if he is over 25. Yet if he is a ‘Loyalty player’ he will receive -1point per year for every season after his fifth in the first team.
The system has merit and it is well intentioned. The FFA keep telling us that fans and players, referees and administrators are all part of the Football Family, but doesn’t such a move restrict who is actually allowed into the family? Football is meant to be for all. Whether you make the team or not comes down to whether you can actually play to that standard, and the coach believes that you are the best man in that position. It should never come down to how many points a player has because of his age, his ethnicity or how long he has been at the club. This goes against the very essence of the game.
Already around the country there are players playing in state leagues and older journeymen players are taking legal advice on this matter, as it does boil down to a restraint of trade. Despite the fact that football is not the main source of income to many players in the State Leagues around Australia, the FFA and the state bodies do not have the right to prevent a player earning a living, part time or otherwise from football. Many are waiting for this to be implemented before challenging it, and do not be surprised if a smart lawyer involved in the game starts a class action on behalf of players around Australia should it be brought in.
So why the comment on a dictatorship. The FFA will be looking to their State Bodies to push this points system through as they believe that it is for the good of the game. Yet if this is truly what they believe why are they assisting in the payment of ageing players such as Alessandro del Piero (38)and Lucas Neill (34)? Surely they should back up their intentions for Football in Australia in the League that they are charged with running? Certainly they should not be encouraging older players at the end of their careers to come and take much needed dollars away from the game as a whole across the country. There is no doubt If they adapted their own points system to the A League clubs it would make very interesting reading at some Franchises!
It seems that there is one rule for those running the game and another for the rest, and unfortunately that could spell trouble down the track. Football should never be about points apart from those in the league. If you are good enough you will break through and play in the first team, if you are not you will enjoy playing at a level that suits your ability. You cannot force talent to shine, all you can do is polish it.