Many regulars to this website may be stunned to note that we are praising sports administrators twice in one week, but we have always given praise when it is deserved.
On this occasion, and as unpopular as this may be to some, we would like to praise the board of Football West on first of all adhering to the competition rules by confirming at the end of last week that the two bottom teams in the All Flags State Premier League, Mandurah City and Cockburn City will be relegated.
This may have seemed a straightforward decision, but there was a lot of maneuvering by certain individuals to try and force the board to ignore the competition rules and allow them to remain in the top division. We are pleased that the current board showed that they have the strength to stand firm on such issues.
The second thing on which we would like to applaud them is the announcement that next season the State League will have a second division made up initially of seven teams. The clubs are: Fremantle United, Olympic Kingsway, UWA-Nedlands, Subiaco AFC, Melville City, Quinns FC and Joondalup City.
Many feel that this will once again dilute an already limited talent pool, but we do not agree.
By increasing the state league by another division, those running the game are to some extent alleviating the pressure that currently exists to find playing venues for all of the teams that wish to play on a Sunday. Quite simply deand is outstripping supply for most sports. This move will in fact mean that more people should be able to play the game, opening up opportunities on a Saturday and also on a Sunday.
There are those who say that their grounds will not be up to the required standard should they assemble a good squad and climb to the Premier Division in the next few years. That may well be so at this point in time, but the game is going to have to start looking to the future.
How many grounds are going to have the facilities to meet the criteria that was initially put out as a requirement to be in the Premier League? Clubs need to start seriously looking at ground share opportunities. With money tight in terms of sponsorship and players wages on the rise, this may sound a crazy idea, as another cost could be damaging to a club. However if the ground is subleased to another club, the fees paid by the leaseholder become halved, and you know what they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. Surely an agreement can be made on gate and bar takings, and in fact both clubs could work together to promote weekly games at the venue to generate more income for both clubs.
The only thing we would say about such a scenario is that it would be wise if this is the path that is chosen, that the reserve team league be shelved, – which we have long advocated – so that the strain on the playing surface is eased. The playing surface is obviously crucial to the standard of football and therefore is paramount that this be maintained.
There has been talk of all weather surfaces being installed over the next ten years or so, but as yet the jury is out on that. Call us traditionalists, but we believe the game should be played on grass when possible