Around the country there are many football fans getting excited about the newest competition the FFA Cup. Sadly that excitement is not being shared on the Western side of the continent.
What should have been a spectacle for the the game as a whole and a great chance for the two NPL clubs, Stirling Lions and Bayswater City to showcase their individual clubs has been lost. In fact the whole experience is now likely to cost both clubs financially; which is surely not what was intended.
Both teams have been told that they cannot play their games on their home grounds, and that the fixtures have been moved to the not-suitable-for-football Perth Athletics stadium. The reason being that all A-League teams have to play under floodlights of a certain “Luxe,” a measurement of brightness.
What stinks in this whole issue is that the FFA never told any of the clubs that they needed to upgrade their lighting in order to host the games. Had they been warned of this more than two weeks out from the games they could well have invested in an upgrade; well Stirling could have as Bayswater was still not deemed suitable as a venue.
This is where questions need to be asked of the state’s governing body once again. It may sound harsh to turn on them but they are charged with promoting the game and putting it in its best light, if your will excuse the pun.
For close on three years they have been putting pressure on clubs to install seating that currently is not warranted, media boxes, showers that don’t interconnect etcetera, yet have invested little in promoting the game or the games and as a result the crowds are not flocking to the NPL/State League like they used to. Surely they must have known the requirements for floodlights, or should have asked the question once the FFA announced that the competition is to be played midweek. However one can accept that in their excitement they failed to think of such an issue.
That being the case maybe they should have gone in to bat for the two clubs concerned. Had Football West pushed hard for the two FFA Cup games in Perth to be moved to the weekend, and played in daylight in 2014, and the NPL games moved to midweek, one can be sure that the crowds would have been huge and both clubs could have benefitted from hosting such a game. Football West could have then guaranteed the FFA that the clubs would have adequate lighting for next season.
Then as the game’s governing body they could have approached a lighting company and asked for a quote to upgrade the lighting at all NPL grounds to a suitable standard to be able to host FFA Cup games in the future. When the quote was received they could have then split the cost between all the clubs. There is no doubt that the buying power of all the clubs would guarantee a better deal than each club trying to negotiate on their own. Surely this would have been acting in the best interests of the game and the clubs?
At the moment all of the onus is being put on the clubs, yet Football West seem to forget that they exist to service the clubs and act in their best interests. They are there for all of the clubs in the state, and there to showcase the game in Western Australia in the best way possible. By kow-towing to the FFA and allowing these games to be moved goes against that mission.
Not only does it fly in the face of the organisation’s role, but by rolling over so easily it could so easily have done the game more harm than many realise. Next time Football goes to the Government with their hand out for money for a Home of Football which is proposed to house not only offices, but pitches that can host games of this stature, the Government are more likely to turn around and ask why the sport needs such a ground, when they have successfully used the Athletics Track. The saddest thing is this stadium is horrific for watching football and is not going to bring in new fans to the game. It is plain and simple not a football stadium.
In addition there is no public transport to the Athletics stadium so those who use public transport to get to the city for work and were planning to head to the games after work will find it hard. Again an issue that was not thought through when the powers that be agreed to this venue. They needed an easily accessible venue conducive to football that would have encouraged a big crowd.
It is not necessarily fair to point the finger solely at Football West, as the FFA failed to communicate the requirements for non-A-League clubs to compete in the FFA Cup. Sadly this lack of leadership and communication by two of the game’s governing bodies have left a very sour taste in the mouths of many fans in Western Australia, and the excitement that should surround the FFA Cup is definitely missing, and that is a great shame.
Finally for those who worry that this whole light issue could affect pre-season games between Perth Glory and NPL clubs. According to the Glory the Luxe level does not have to be as high ‘for a non-competitive match’ so these games are not under threat.