In the late 1960’s a comedy was aired on British television called “Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width,” about two tailors, one Jewish the other Roman Catholic working together. The phrase has become a part of modern day speech to indicate that you are being palmed off with something of a lesser quality. It is implying that quantitiy is more important than quality. The phrase originated from unscrupulous London backstreet tailors palming buyers off with cheap material for a suit. It would appear that the line is now very appropriate when it comes to the National Premier Leagues competition in Australia.
Western Australia’s Bayswater City won the National Premier Leagues-WA competition in the last game of the season in a dramatic finish to the competition; they had to wait to hear other results before knowing that their were Premiers. Having come first on the league table they now will represent Western Australia in the National Premier Leagues finals, against the other top teams from around Australia.
The club has been in operation since 1980, a period of 37 years. Their home ground is Frank Drago reserve. The club has played at this venue every year of the NPL-WA, and many before. The club has won the NPL-WA competition in its inaugural year of 2014, 2015 and 2017. Always playing on the same pitch, at the same venue.
Suddenly now the team is about to play in the NPL finals and host a game at their home venue they have been told that they must widen their pitch, and move the goalposts.
In the National Premier Leagues-WA rules of competition there is no reference to pitch sizes. In fact the document states that “This document must be read in conjunction with the following documents:
• FIFA Laws of the Game
• FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players
• FIFA Disciplinary Code”
So one would assume that the size of the pitch is determined by FIFA’s regulations.
Even on the FFA’s own website, and they are the ones who ultimately govern the NPL competition, they too state under the Laws of the Game that “The touchline must be longer than the goal line.” They go on to state that the Length of the touchline must be minimum 90m (100yds) and a maximum of maximum 120m (130yds).
The Goal line must be a minimum 45m (50yds) and a maximum 90m (100yds). These are the FIFA Regulations.
As Bayswater City’s pitch is 62 metres wide, it falls within the FIFA Criteria. So why are they having to widen their pitch at great expense to the club?
After all they have played in the NPL competition now for four seasons, and this is, as it’s title says a National Premier League competition. So why has it been okay for four seasons, and suddenly is not.
One wonders if someone in administration is confusing the FIFA regulations for International matches which states that Dimensions for international matches
Length (touchline): minimum 100m (110yds) and maximum 110m (120yds). The Length of the goal line must be a minimum 64m (70yds) and a maximum 75m (80yds).
There is however a rider which states that “Competitions may determine the length of the goal line and touchline within the above dimensions.”
Now that is all well and good but with the FFA’s website only referring to the FIFA regulations as well as the NPL-WA rules of competition doing the same, the pitch should be acceptable, as this is not an international match. Also a visit to the official NPL website does not make things any clearer as there are no rules of competition listed and the links take you to each State’s information.
So who has made a decision to override FIFA? Why has such a decision been made, and now that it appears the width of the pitch is within the FIFA regulations who will compensate the club for the cost of the work already done?
If the NPL competition is about producing quality football the team with home advantage should be allowed to play on their home pitch and keep it at the size it has been all season; as long as it is within FIFA Regulations.
It is administrators making decisions such as this one at the eleventh hour that cause undue frustration to those trying to promote the game and at the same time put a successful team on the pitch. It is time that clubs simply put their foot down and pointed out that they have played in this competition for four seasons, and the pitch has been fine during that time, it complies with FIFA’s regulations so it must be fine now.
Call us paranoid here in the West, but once again in Western Australian sport it feels as if the goalposts are being moved to prevent a team being successful.