They say it is a dog eat dog world, and never has that been truer than in the world of sport. Players, agents, coaches and clubs all fighting for the limelight and the best deal that they can get for themselves. It is a sad state of affairs and one wonders when it all went wrong
We have witnessed in Western Australian football an inability to unite for the good of the game. For clubs to work together, to get what is best for all, rather than a few. This was evident when the FFA and Football West were pushing through their National Premier Leagues model to keep a promise to the Asian Football Confederation, and protect A-league clubs Asian Champions League slots.
Despite very few actual foundations being put in place for the NPL-WA and the CEO at the time stating to the clubs that it would be “A work in progress,” the clubs did not have the courage to stand firm until they received all of the facts and were sure that the new competition was being built on strong foundations. Instead they all submitted applications for fear that they might miss out on something that would be great. That lack of due diligence is now believed to be costing some clubs dearly.
The clubs clearly did not trust each other to stand united as one, and obtain what was best for all.
So when did the lack of trust start? Was it when one club President approached a coach working at another club to entice him to theirs behind his current employers back? Or was it when a coach approached a contracted player at another club without seeking permission first? Has the salary cap increased the levels of mistrust?
The sad fact is that in the last 20 years that respect and trust amongst clubs has been almost totally eroded.
If ever evidence of this was required take a look at the FFA Cup matches which are also part of the State Cup competition. The latter being a competition, which under several names, has run since 1960. Having spoken to some club presidents from years gone by they have advised that when it came to cup games the two competing teams always used to split the gate takings, as one said “it takes two teams to make a match and two sets of fans to make a crowd.” Today we hear that those lucky enough to get a home draw are pocketing all of the money, and the away team is receiving nothing.
In days gone by, we were told that the home club would deduct the cost of preparing the pitch and any other match day costs from the gate receipts, and then the remaining monies would be split down the middle between the two competing clubs. IN some cases each club would have a volunteer manning the gate. Also back then many clubs did not pay their players for appearing in Cup games, however they had agreements which saw them share the spoils if they made the final or won.
Now some teams did pay their players to play in Cup games, but that was obviously up to each individual club to negotiate and work out when doing their financial planning for the season. Some clubs we believe used payment in cup games as an incentive to bring key players across to their club.
When it comes to the final in recent years we have seen an independent club given the hosting rights and they too have pocketed the gate money, even though their side has failed to make the final. They also have the takings from the bar and any food sales. So one could say it is better to host the final than progress in the tournament if you happen to be drawn away; as Dianella White Eagles have been this year. Once again surely the costs of hosting the game should be taken out of the gate money and what is left over be split between the two sides competing in the final?
It is sad that on such a simple issue the clubs appear to have once again thought only of themselves and not about the fact that without opponents there is no game, without two sets of fans there is no spectacle, no atmosphere, no rivalry.
If clubs cannot help each other what hope is there for the future? Things may be tough, but history has shown if you pull together and work together, you can get through the tough times, together! If it comes down to survival of the fittest, the game will lose many clubs along the way. When those clubs die or close their door the game loses part of its history and tradition.