Not surprisingly there has been a great deal of discussion in football circles in the past few days about the need for the criteria to be in the National Premier Leagues of Western Australia to be reviewed.
What makes the whole process so difficult is that the rules in Division One of the State league are not the same as they are if you are promoted to the NPL.
As one of the state’s football historians pointed out, in 2004 the last year of Soccer West Coast the top competition in the state had 12 teams in the top division on a Saturday, the Premier League. There were 15 teams in Division 1 and there was no Division Two.
At that time 26 of the 27 teams had enclosed grounds. Only Balcatta did not, but they did have a gate through which the paying public passed to watch games.
There are now 36 clubs playing in the NPL, State League Division one and two and only 23 of the 36 have enclosed grounds. The thirteen clubs that do not have enclosed grounds have no way of controlling who comes into their grounds. So has the game really progressed in the past 12 years?
Football West has dedicated a great deal of time and energy on trying to find location, and then build a “Home of Football” or now as it is being called a “State Football Centre.” The latest statement from the Chair of Football West in October said that this facility will now cost $45 million. This figure has jumped $15million in just over a year! (Time to Leave Home)
With Joondalup United denied promotion because they did not meet the required NPL Criteria, and the fact that they would have had to ground share with Sorrento, one has to ask should not money such as this be invested in improving the facilities across the state, and making as many grounds as possible meet the required criteria? Then, if other clubs like Joondalup United make their way up through the leagues with their performances on the pitch, they are not denied their rightful place because their ground is not up to scratch. Being forced to share grounds even before the NPL commenced cost the Western Knights dearly off the pitch, and saw them relegated on it. So as much as there is merit in such a move it has to be an agreement that does not financially penalise one club.
In the press release from Football West in October Mr Twigger was quoted as saying, “With over 200,000 participants in Western Australia, the development of a State Football Centre is crucial in supporting the growth of the game from grassroots to the elite level.” This was the same figure quoted in the Annual report of 2015, and is clearly aimed at convincing the Government to donate to the sport. However Annual Reports are supposed to compare like with like, and in 2014 there were only 40,615 registered participants reported. This is a massive jump in 12 months, and one that if true, actually lends weight that it is in fact the facilities around the state that need upgrading, rather than having one state-of-the-art central location, as facilities at each club are soon going to be overstretched.
Let us know what you feel.(Voting will be open for one week)