Prior to the deadline for applications for the NPL in Western Australia closing concerns were raised in relation to the fact that the participation criteria in each state differed. If this was to truly be a National Premier League competition that was to be the next tier down from the Hyundai A-League why did the conditions on admission vary in each state? This is one of the facts that the Melbourne clubs have raised in protest against Football Victoria.
The application process for what has been billed as the most revolutionary change to game in twenty years one would have expected to be the hardest part of the process. Initially deciding on what were the key criteria that each club must meet and then checking each application to make sure that clubs could in fact deliver what they had promised in their applications.
If this is a truly national competition, as it is being hailed, one would have assumed that the licensing agreements for those clubs chosen to participate in the new league would have been drawn up months ago and would have been uniform across the country. Once again this would appear not to be the case.
On the 27th of August Football West announced the 12 clubs destined to be playing in the inaugural NPL season in Western Australia. Following a couple of meetings the clubs were advised that they would receive the licensing agreements by October 15th, and that they must sign them and return them to Football West by the October 30th. As yet no club has received the licensing agreement.
This is a concern as the league is due to start in the first or second week of March 2014, and clubs still do not know exactly what they are expected to deliver. Concerns existed previously about the NPL being rushed through to meet FFA requirements with the Asian Football Confederation, once again concerns are beginning to surface as clubs question whether the new structures can indeed be delivered in such a short time frame.
Bunbury Forum Force were the only side playing in the State Premier League to be excluded from the new NPL format, and following some questionable procedures in the application process sought a hearing with the probity committee to raise their concerns over the process. This committee was made up of one Football West board member and one former board member. The decision not to have someone with no links to the game’s administration again raised eyebrows.
Following that hearing a report on the meeting was promised within a set timeframe. This was not met. Bunbury were given a new timeframe in which they would receive this report, this too has passed and Bunbury still have not received a report on a meeting held almost three weeks ago!
If clubs miss deadlines they suffer the consequences, points are deducted, and fines imposed. It would appear that the administrators whose sole job it is to stay on top of such administrative duties, can miss important deadlines at will. What makes these two issues harder to understand is that the season at all levels of the game has finished so there should be nothing impeding the delivery of these reports.
With the Probity hearing, if one of those chairing the hearing is to supply the report, and they now find themselves too busy why did they not have a third party recording the events in the five hour meeting, so that they could then edit this accurate account of the meeting into a report?
Should the clubs be concerned at these failures to meet deadlines by the full time administrators of the game? Many feel questions need to be asked as to why this has been allowed to happen. Also whether the timelines to which the clubs must commit and comply to be a part of the NPL for 2014 are now becoming too short for the competition to be marketed and promoted in a way that will bring in more supporters.
The clubs pay fees to the games administrators, Football West, so should they not expect a certain level of service in return? The clubs certainly deserve respect and that deadlines given by the administration are met by the administration.
Despite these concerns, rest assured the NPL will commence in 2014, even if all 12 teams originally chosen fail to commit. The FFA have promised this competition, so it must happen.