There have been a number of issues that have cropped up during the past few months in which the various state bodies have tried to push ahead with the National Premier Leagues model as put forward by the FFA, so Not The Footy Show set out to try and clarify some of them.
First up there was a rumour that the Asian Football Confederation(AFC) wanted all professional leagues in each of their member nations to be stand alone leagues by 2016. Having checked this with the AFC they said that there is no specific requirement but that “as part of the requirement to participate in the AFC Champions League, the professional league should be an independent legal or commercial entity under its national law.”
Another explanation was that the FFA were creating the NPL to satisfy a promise made to the AFC that by 2013 they would have a second division with promotion and relegation to the Hyundai A League. This is in essence correct. However late last year there were some changes. According to the AFC “Till 2012, it was compulsory for the AFC Champions League participating leagues to have a promotion/relegation system to meet the AFC Champions League Criteria, but in November 2012 the AFC committees made a new decision that from 2013 it would not be compulsory for a promotion and relegation system in the league. However, in the hind sight having such a system would assist FFA to accumulate points.” The points are to increase your case for more than one team in the AFC Champions League.
So although no longer necessary, the NPL will help the successful A-League teams gain added exposure in the Asian Champions League. Surely then the State League clubs have an even greater claim to a slice of the financial pie, as it is their involvement in the NPL which will help the A-League clubs?
As Football West stated in their updated FAQ’s on the NPL which was updated in the early hours of June 26th with no alert to clubs,”the FFA is attempting to sell a number of sponsorship packages at various levels and for various categories eg. National naming rights, supporting partners and suppliers (balls, referees’ uniforms, etc). The FFA has until 16 July for this to be achieved after which the rights will revert to Member Federations (such as Football West) to attempt to sell.”
This appeared to be a reason why the NPL absolutely had to go ahead in 2014. The truth though is never what it seems. “Not The Footy Show” asked the AFC if they were the ones pushing for this second tier competition and their answer we have already quoted. We then asked how they would feel if the rules of entry, fees and criteria were different in each state, would they still recognise this league as an official second tier competition?
Understandably they were slightly non-commital, however their answer revealed why Football West have had the blinkers on in relation to pushing this through.
They told us “The AFC would assess the related item(s) of AFC Champions League criteria based on what documents FFA submits. We can verify after the end of June which is the deadline for submission of documents in 2013.” So it would appear with the Board and CEO of Football West has said that WA will be a part of the NPL in 2014, without by all accounts consultation with the clubs, and based on that the FFA has included this as part of a document submitted to the AFC, and that is why the new League cannot be put on hold.
The Crawford report was set up at great expense to avoid such situations. It was supposed to bring about more transparency in the game, but the implementation of the NPL has revealed that there is a massive communications breakdown, and the stakeholders, the clubs, players, coaches and mums and dads who pay for their children to play this great game are only being told what those running the game think they need to know.
This cannot possibly go on and all involved with the game have a duty to ensure that it doesn’t. The FFA should communicate their negotiations with the AFC, especially if they impact the game as a whole, and the state bodies too should communicate their negotiations with the FFA. They are after all simply administrators of the game in each state, nothing more, nothing less.