Thursday, 30 May 2013

It's Wednesday night, it's Box Hill Indoor Soccer Night

Not amateur Hammond organ recital night. After more than a decade, I have made a return to playing indoor soccer, with Blue Steel in the Wednesday Night Division Three competition at the Box Hill Indoor Sports Centre. Last night saw the second-placed Steel notch up a comfortable 11-4 win over last-placed Unatletico Madrid to pretty much seal a place in the top four Finals series (with only six teams in the competition, it's a bit like the A-League in that regard). Scored twice and did not further injure myself, so good result all round.

It meant not keeping up to date with the rapidly changing NPLV landscape. We've now had Hume City, Preston Lions, Cairnlea and Altona Magic declare they will not submit EOI's. Dandenong Thunder will submit an EOI, but seem lukewarm on making a final submission, perhaps sensing they are about as welcome as Eddie Maguire at a corroboree.

Not much has been mentioned about the involvement of Melbourne Heart Youth and Melbourne Victory Youth in the NPLV. It has widely been assumed they will play in the senior competition, but will they have to meet all the other criteria other licensees must meet? Maybe more will be revealed when the list of clubs to have put in the EOI's is announced.

I notice the FFV VPL website still has a link to the long departed VPL Live TV to the right of the links to the club websites. Sure it is nice to have a link to the videos of games from previous years, but perhaps a bit disingenuous to keep the link there when there is no longer any more actual VPL Live TV broadcasts. It was interesting to note on the VPL Facebook page earlier in the season whenever anyone posed the question which was to be the VPL Live TV game that round, or if the current match being updated was on VPL Live TV, there would be no response from the FFV. Whilst it may be embarrassing for the FFV to admit they could no longer afford to service, and therefore admit they were reducing their service to the clubs and league in promoting the competition, it was downright rude not to make a statement and answer poster's questions.

Whilst on the VPL Facebook page, you can almost set your watch to the weekly "South Melbourne for relegation" post from Chris Margaritis and Michael Italiano coming on to pump up the tyres of his son Lewis in the Oakleigh goal. I've heard of club's having to "please explain" comments posted by their players, a bit rich coming from the organisation which failed to answer enquiries from the public. At least we get an idea on how the staff of over 60 at FFV HQ are spending their time.

Another matter to arise on the discussion on the NPLV on the various forums and Facebook pages is the number of times someone argues that the NPL has already been implemented across the country. The FFV's criteria means the NPLV is a vastly different beast to the versions currently underway in other states. Once again, to claim otherwise is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.

If you think things are getting absurd, then check out this beauty:

I would love to hear more about this. I'll assume two yearly increments in those age brackets up until the Veteran's League begins at Under 35's. So that could be Under 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32 and 34's. Someone start making some more pitches, I'll try and round up enough referees.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bits & Pieces (Not a Dave Clark Five Tribute)

The Dave Clark Five were the "Tottenham Sound", perhaps a little overshadowed by the "Merseybeat" of the same era. This post is not about them though, even though the title is the same as one of their greatest hits.

So Harry Kewell is close to signing for Melbourne Heart in the A-League. For close to minimum wage apparently. Will add a bit more spice to the Derby, and I'm not talking about his appearance in a marquee at Flemington. Just don't let me have to hear anyone claiming he is the greatest Australian player of all-time, not in this town. This side of the Murray, we all hail King Dukes!

Conflicting reports on whether the two VPL Melbourne's, Port and South, will be submitting EOI's for the NPLV. The deadline to hop of the fence is 5 pm Friday, with a countdown clock on the FFV NPLV keeping everyone informed.

Thanks to South of the Border for their promotion of Melbourne Soccer on their blog:

I answer Yes, Hell Yes and No to the three opening questions. I don't think the blog could be summarised in just six words any better than they have in their links section - Australian soccer history, Victorian soccer politics. That's what I'm here for.

The Guardian have launched an Australian website, and in the following blog Joe Gorman explains why they will be referring to the game as soccer:

As you may gather, calling football "soccer" does not have the same effect on me as showing a cross to a vampire. I grew up with the name, and like many can easily switch between the two terms depending on what company I am in without suffering any scarring of psyche as a result. I called the blog Melbourne Soccer, as in Melbourne the dominant code of football is Aussie Rules, and I'm not looking to cause any confusion.

If any club would like to announce their intentions regarding the NPLV via this blog, please get in touch. According to the countdown clock, you have 2 days, 19 hours, 38 minutes and 51 seconds remaining.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Interesting Expressions

With Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the National Premier League Victoria closing at the end of the week, there has been plenty of movement at the station.

Melbourne Knights Press Release

First came this press release from the Melbourne Knights about the decision of their members at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to not submit an EOI. How many other clubs have even put this decision to an EGM yet?

The FFV website today issued a reminder that interested parties have until 5 pm on Friday to submit their EOI.

FFV News Update

There is nothing on the FFV website at all pertaining to a query in the last paragraph of the press release, in which "The Melbourne Knights calls upon Football Federation Victoria to immediately release the criteria for the so-called 'community leagues' so that the club, and others like it, may prepare to the fullest for the 2014 season." I hope no one is holding their breath, because the vast and expensive FFV resources are being devoted solely to the NPLV and the grassroots can wither and die for all they care.

Mfootball - Green Gully Exclusive

Next cab off the rank to announce they don't want a bar of the NPLV is Green Gully. When the most financially stable club in the state won't take the risk on the viability of the FFV's brainchild, it is time to phone Houston, for we have a problem.

To get everyone in the mood for where we may currently stand in history, have a look at this if you have the time:


The great Roy Hay covers the split that lead to the foundation of the VSF. Are there any lessons to be learned from history?

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A Weekend Wrap of the VPL

Time for a wrap of the weekend's action in the VPL. Only got to the one game, Richmond v Hume City on Friday night. Can't to any worse than The Football Sack's weekly VPL review that gets linked on the FFV website and it's simple rehashing of the round's results.

So on Friday night, Richmond threw away an early lead (again) to succumb to a seventh successive defeat. The drama for the Eagles had begun early in the week with senior keeper Rani Dowisha departing for South Springvale. An attempt to bring back Stuart Webster to the club was thwarted by the FFV on the grounds that only Griffin McMaster is allowed out of window transfer exemptions. So young Oscar Vonk was thrown into the deep end for his VPL debut.

When he spilled a free-kick from Naum Sekulovski it was Turhan Sumbul who was on hand to equalise, heavily collecting Vonk in the process. Hume took the lead in the fifty-third minute with a great counter attack seeing the ball played out to Ersin Kaya who broke down the right before crossing to an unmarked Jarryd Barnes to simply head the ball into the net.

With eighteen minutes left Richmond conceded another poor goal, a free-kick from Nick Hegarty wide out on the right eluded all those line up at the top of the box and then bouncing and curling in at the far post to make it 3-1 for Hume. A late Richmond rally saw them pull a goal back at the end of regular time, a neat chip over the defence by Sam Gallagher being well met and finished by Kliment Taseski. Richmond then had a couple of chances to snatch an equaliser, substitute Gideon Sweet blazing a shot onto Bastow Oval No.2 with some well placed passing options available, and then Nick Krousoratis volleying a free-kick that fell to him at the far post a little too hard back across goal for Timmy Purcell to be able to meet.

At the same time Bentleigh defeated Melbourne Knights 2-1with David Stirton and Like Sherborn scoring for the home side before Jacob Colosimo pulled a goal back for the Knights. It was not the best performance of the season from title contenders Bentleigh, and the Knights were certainly ruing the chance to grab all the points.

In the final closed doors game of their FFV Tribunal punishment, defending Champions Dandenong Thunder fell to a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Pascoe Vale. The experience and class of Michael Ferrante has lifted the youthful Paco squad, his return from injury leading to the club finally finding it's feet in their first ever season in the top flight. If the traffic on the Dandenong Bypass wasn't already doing it, the Dandenong crowd behind the fence on the way to Eastlink would have been silenced in the tenth minute when Marco Santilli opened the scoring. It was Ferrante who converted a second half penalty, as Pascoe Vale recorded their third win of the season.

A change of coach didn't fully bring about a change in fortunes at Green Gully, who drew 1-1 at home to Port Melbourne. Luke Bowen pounced on the rebound from a Daniel Visevic strike to give the Sharks the lead after twenty-four minutes. In the second-half it was Bowen who was the villain, his handball in the box to block a shot from Matthew Sanders leading to a penalty which was duly converted by Jason Hayne. Not sure if the draw gives the Gully powerbrokers enough to make a conclusion one way or the other on whether the interim appointment of Jeff Fleming as coach will be extended.

Northcote City have gotten off to a flying start in 2013, and made it seven in a row with what would have to be considered a reasonably comprehensive victory over Southern Stars. It was 4-0 in the end, with the in-form Dean Piemonte grabbing two goals. Stars sit only ahead of Richmond on the table, and it remains possible that by the time of their clash on June 22nd neither team may yet have won a game for the season.

I won't go into the final game of the round, South Melbourne defeating Oakleigh Cannons 2-1, as I'm sure South of the Border will give more detail in due course, complete with the Under 21's Match Report by Steve from Broady. The bigger news on Sunday evening will have come from Knights Stadium, where an Extraordinary General Meeting saw Knights members vote not to submit an Expression of Interest in joining the proposed NPLV in 2014.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Minutes of 105 Minutes of the VSF Board of Management, 1990

Whilst making some shelf space in the office at Kevin Bartlett Reserve last year, I came across many lever arch folders containing VSF correspondence from across the 1980's and 1990's. Back then Management Committees comprising of members elected from various club nominees, and the entire VSF Board would set the agenda for the Executive Director and his VSF staff to follow. It seems a bit more transparent than today's FFV, with minutes recorded and sent to all clubs.

So here is my review of the Minutes of a Board of Management Meeting held at Soccer House on Tuesday 24th April 1990 at 6.00 pm.

Those present were the VSF Chairman, Cav V.Cilauro (Santo's old man), and Board of Management Members (Messrs J.Docherty, A.Cikoja, N.Love, T.Bailey, L.Strafrace, G.Vasilopoulos, G.Zafiropoulos and P.Karak) as well as Mr J.Dimtsis (VSF President), Mrs A.McPhee and Mr J.Kriaris (VSF Vice Presidents), Messrs E.Heath and A.Kovac (VSF Patrons) and Mr M.Weinstein (VSF Honorary Life President). In attendance was Premier League Management Committee Chairperson Mrs L.De Marchi. Mr J.Branov had taken a Leave of Absence.

The first order and resolution of the meeting was to receive and adopt the minutes of the Board of Management Meeting from the 10th of April.

The Executive Director's Report began with an Obituary for the passing of noted former soccer journalist and player Mr Alex Barr. Mr Eric Heath had represented the Federation at the funeral. The Executive Director stated the Sunraysia Soccer Association was organising a Soccer Carnival for late September with further details to be forwarded to the Federation in due course. A full report on the Vic Health Super Clinic held at Olympic Park (attended by 150 junior players) was to be submitted to the Board by the State Director of Coaching.

Item iv) was a disciplinary matter, with Provisional League Division One club Westmeadows SC having been expelled from the Federation. The case was still subject to appeal. A media function was to be held on Monday 30th of April at Vassilis's Restaurant in Abbotsford, with all members of the Board of Management invited to attend. A verbal report was given of the business discussed by the Tours Sub Committee on the forthcoming International Game between Australia v Hajduk Split in Melbourne on Wednesday 6th June 1990. It was resolved that Mr J.Docherty would the Liaison Officer for the Australian Team and Mr A.Cikoja perform the same role for Hajduk Split.

The Executive Director stated the reasons for the non-attendance of a referee at the St Albans v Melbourne J..U.S.T. game. I am assuming it was he feared for his life, as the reason stated is not recorded.

The Chairman's Report briefed everyone on forthcoming meetings with the ASF. He was impressed by the arrangements made at a Media Conference arranged by the NSL for the NSL Cup Final, and thanked Mr Strafrace for standing in for him during the period of time that he was ill. He then proposed a television show called Santo, Sam and Ed's NSL Cup Fever. Or I just made that up.

Minutes from the 10th of April Promotion/Marketing Sub Committee Meeting were received. Matters arising resolved that estimated expenditure of $30,000 was required for the Gold Medal Presentation and this was endorsed. Liaison Officers for sponsorships were allocated thus: Vic Health Promotion Foundation - Messrs V.Cilauro/G.Wallace Admiral - Mr J.Docherty Mitre - Mr J.Kriaris Travel - Mr A.Cikoja.

Then there was more minutes spent on minutes from the Junior League Management Comittee. A sub rule regarding Voting Structures for the Member Clubs General Metting due on May 3rd was replaced.

Incoming  Correspondence was then discussed. Mr P.Gude, MP's updating of Liberal Party Sport and Recreation Policy was to be dealt with by the Executive Director. The Media Statements from the NSWSF were Noted. The Executive Director was also to take action on the letter from Lambert Bain regarding the VSF Public Liability Policy.

Action had already been taken on the Advice Amendments to Rules (Nominee Members) from Williams, Winters & Higgs. Myrtleford SC requested for permission to play in the Albury Wodonga League, with the club to be referred to correspondence already sent on the matter.

The RSL acknowledged the Donations for Anzac Day Games. The CLSA correspondence about sponsorship for the 1990 Country League Championship was referred to the next meeting. Notification of the ASF Executive Meeting on Friday 18th May was Noted, as was the Resignation of Federation's President from NSWSF. Athletic Echo Publications requested for adverts for Vic Health etc and this was to be referred to the Promotion/Marketing Sub Committee. Mr S.Radojevic was requesting a change of player status, and he was granted permission to change from Non Amateur to Amateur Player Status provided that all Resolutions of the Federation as applicable for such a change of player status are met.

The Aussie Sportsfund Training Camp letter from Sport & Recreation Victoria was Noted, as was a request from South Springvale SC to fill a vacancy in Provisional League Division One. The Executive Director was to take action on the Minister for Sport & Recreation's correspondence regarding Anzac Day Games.

The meeting closed at 7.45 pm. The minutes were signed by the Executive Director, G.F.Wallace.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Half a Century Ago with the VSF Year Book

Not sure what Sgt.Pepper was doing fifty years ago today, but if he was in Melbourne he may have been flicking through the 1963 VSF Year Book if he was looking for a game to play. The cover can be seen on the background image of the blog, and now I will run you through the contents.

 The Official Year Book of the VSF in 1963 was a pocket sized affair, measuring 10.5 centimetres by 13.5 centimetres. A pale blue cardboard cover featured an emblem of ye olde soccer ball with a crown on top supported by a lion on the left and a kangaroo on the right.
The inside cover was an advertisement for Ampol Services Stations, sponsors of the NIGHT SOCCER CUP. The cover was repeated again on page 3, and I note the cost of the publication was 2/6. Two sixths of what you may ask, but I believe it to be two shillings and six pence whatever they are.

Blank pages flanked an index page, before page 5 began a two page President's Message from Australian Soccer Federation President W.G.Walkley, C.B.E. He paid tribute to the late Victorian Chairman, Dr Harry Seamonds and reflected on the growth of soccer in Victoria, also commending the President Mr Harry Dockerty ('a remarkable man') and the incoming Chairman, Theo Marmaras. He praised the acquisition of Soccer House and developing Olympic Park as the centre of the code. In his second page he expressed hope for a settlement in the dispute with F.I.F.A.

Next came the names and addresses of the Executive Members of the VSF (Mamaras lived in Elsternwick) and those of the Secretaries of the respective State Federations. More names and addresses followed, those of the State League Council, Metropolitan Members, Junior Delegate and State and Metropolitan League Management Committees. Then came the same information on all the Club Secretaries.

Reminders to Clubs: All matches must commence no later than 2.45 p.m. Referees must be paid prior to commencement of match. Blah blah blah from S.BEATON, Secretary-Manager, V.S.F.

Then came the Club Directories. The State League featured Croatia (Situation of Ground:- Maribyrnong Tracy's Speedway), George Cross (Heidelberg), Hakoah (Hakoah-South Melb.Hellas, oval No.17 Albert Park, Lake Road, near Night Golf), J.U.S.T. ("Schintler Reserve", New Footscray Road, West Melbourne), Juventus (Elsternwick Park, Elsternwick), U.S.C. Lions (Montgomery Park, Essendon), Melbourne-Hungaria (Elsternwick Park) Maribyrnong-Polonia (Maribyrnong Speedway), Alemania-Richmond ("Schintler Reserve", New Footscray Road, West Melbourne, just before new overpass bridge), Slavia-Port Melbourne (S.S.Anderson Oval, Murphy reserve, Williamstown Rd, Port Melbourne), South Melbourne-Hellas (Middle Park Oval 18) and Ringwood-Wilhelmina (Jubilee Park, Ringwood. Rielly Street, off Wantirna Road.) I could have thrown a few (sic)'s in there, but it would have gotten confusing.

In the other leagues, Alexander (now Heidelberg United) were at Yarra Bend, behind Fairfield Hospital. Sunshine City were at Gardens Reserve, Anderson Road, Sunshine. Austria were still in Elwood pre-move to Keilor. Dandenong City played at the Dandenong Showgrounds. Oakleigh were at Davis Reserve, Wallace Street, Huntingdale. Sandringham City were, as they are still, at R.J.Stillitoe Reserve, Hampton. My old favourites, Flinders Naval Depot, were playing at Crib Point. Moorabbin City were at Victory Park on Paterson Road. Hercules, the current Northcote City, were at Princess Park Oval 6, which may be sic as well, as it is probably Princes Park.

Then followed the fixtures for 1963 for the State League, First Division North, First Division South, Second Division North, Second Division South and the Second Division Reserves (not all North and South Second Division clubs fielded two teams, so there was a single combined league).

This was followed by results grids for all senior and reserves leagues from 1962, then the results list of the Federation Cup, an ad for Dunklings the Jewellers and then an honours list of the 1962 Champions above the results of the Interstate Championships, won by N.S.W. from Queensland and South Australia with Victoria fourth and last.

The Dockerty Cup ended with two round robin groups of four seeing the top two teams meet in semi-finals before a Final of George Cross 3 Hakoah 0. The group stage ladders of the 1963 Ampol Cup were featured, alongside all the results leading to the Final of Polonia 1 S.M.Hellas 0 (after extra time).

Soccer News was on sale at all grounds for 1/- whatever that thingy meant. One shilling and no pence at all I suppose.

There were results from the 1962 Australia Cup (won by N.S.W. club Yugal) before the list of former Champions and Winners of the Ampol Night Soccer, First Division (1928 being the year of the mighty Naval Depot!), State League Champions, State League Cup, Argus Best and Fairest Medal, Dockerty Cup, Harry Armstrong (Reserves) Cup. Next up the scores of all previous Victoria v N.S.W., Victoria v South Australia and Victoria v Queensland clashes. Finally came the 17 Laws of Soccer.

The inside back cover was an ad for The Sporting Globe, and it's COMPLETE COVERAGE OF SOCCER, here and abroad. Saturday editions featured full cover of all senior local games, and the Wednesday edition contained lists of overseas results and pools dividends. The back cover was and advertisement for the Rebel Sport of the day, London Stores, which also sponsored the "Spotlight On Soccer" segment on radio 3KZ at 7.15 of a Friday evening.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

NPLV - Pitfalls or Promise?

It's time for a final look at the NPLV issue for now as, like the fall of the empire and the death of Little Mu, time to move on to something more positive is imminent.

So what other problems do clubs have with the FFV's proposals for the NPLV? Some of the terms of the licence agreement have them feeling as if they are surrendering control of their clubs to the FFV. Having to submit three alternative names for a club with their submission has aroused concerns.
Each club will be allowed to field just the one team in each of the proposed age groups for boys and girls, and they will only begin at Under 12 level. This means clubs will have to turn away players and will not have a presence at the entry point of the game - Small Sided Football.
With membership fees capped at $1700 per player, clubs are wondering if the books will balance. Each club will have to employ a Technical Director, and it may not be too long before a General Manager is also required. Coaches and Physios must also be added to the budget. Will parents of "elite" players be willing to volunteer assistance around the club, or will the canteen and bar staff for the long match days require remuneration? I see a lot of expense without any evidence revenue will be sufficient.
Getting sponsorship is never easy, and some pitfalls loom upon the horizon. Reduced player numbers will be a concern to some seeking exposure, as would a further decline in spectator attendance across the board. For the sponsors who only do it out of duty to the club because they are on the committee, will they reconsider their support if they feel they have lost control of their club to the FFV?

Some facilities will need upgrading, and with clubs facing having fewer players they may lose their bargaining power with local councils. There are also issues with some clubs having access to their grounds for the extended length of the season proposed for the NPLV.

The process of establishing the NPLV has been shrouded in controversy. From rumours of clubs having made secret "backroom" deals with the FFV to others that the FFV was seeking to gain control of certain facilities. Many believe the FFV's consultation with it's stakeholders has been nothing but a sham, with most of the club's concerns dismissed out of hand. Clubs that have aired their grievances fear being victimised as a result.

It's been an ugly process which hopefully does not bode ominously for the future of the game.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Points of it All

A part of the National Premier Leagues across the country is the new Player Points System (PPS). Players are given a points value according to age (older is more points) and how long they have been at a club (longer is fewer points), with residency and citizenship being a factor. The State Federations will set a points limit which a club's squad must come under. It is designed to encourage youthful squads and reduce the number of visa players from overseas playing in local competitions.

In principle, it is not a terrible idea. To some it may seem like amputating a finger to deal with a paper cut, because there are actually clubs out there that will play kids and don't have half a dozen backpackers in their first eleven. I wonder how the Professional Footballer's Association (PFA) feels about it, though?

One problem with implementing such a scheme on what will be the top tier of football in the state is that it instantly cheapens the product. By branding the league, officially, as a development league the spectator appeal is diminished. Are people interested in watching glorified friendlies or training sessions? That is what the competition may be viewed as should competition rules be amended to force a focus on youth. People follow clubs to watch their team compete, and try and win. Not to watch players try and adhere to a system set by a curriculum.

For the level of professionalism required from the clubs, decent crowd revenue will be vital. It could be a hard sell to get fans to vote with their wallets.

Recent instances of a couple of clubs fielding up to seven or eight imports at a time has brought this issue to a head. Hopefully the changes won't eliminate imports completely. Personally I have always enjoyed having one or two around the club at a time. The club quickly becomes their family in this country, as they often rely on team-mates for accommodation and transportation as well as going out together socially. It can assist in team bonding, so it saddens me to see that a couple of clubs going to extremes has given the entire practice a bad name.

It is good to see the PPS foster player loyalty. The FFV has often been the club's worst enemy in this regard. The current elite pathway has seen players float from a junior club, to the National Training Centre (NTC), back to a junior/senior club, then to Melbourne Victory Youth and then maybe back to a senior club within the space of a year and a half. The introduction of the Victorian Summer League gave coaches the chance to poach players for their winter clubs, and the disbanding of the Super Leagues saw player movement increase as many sought to get out of the perceived weaker zonal league their club had been placed in.

Hopefully the FFV will be able to properly monitor the PPS. Having struggled in keeping up with yellow card count suspensions in the past, leading to the farce of expanding the VPL to avoid litigation from a club that had been relegated which was disputing an administrative error, they will need to check everything over carefully from now on.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Being a Member Doesn't Have it's Privileges

The governing body of football in Victoria is, of course, the FFV. The FFV is the re-branded Victorian Soccer Federation (VSF), a body which was established as a Federation by member clubs to control the running of the game. It's finances came from the affiliation fees paid by the member clubs.
Nowadays, the FFV runs the game independently of it's member clubs, indeed often acting against their better interests, but still relying on their affiliation fees. The affiliation fees vary depending on which league a club is in, with the largest being those of the VPL clubs.

In the days of the old National Soccer League (NSL), the clubs from the various State Leagues that participated were still members of their State Federations and remained so by still paying their annual affiliation fee to the respective state bodies. There had even been promotion and relegation between the NSL and State Leagues in the early years. When the NSL ended, Melbourne Knights and South Melbourne, as FFV member clubs, rightfully returned to the VPL as was their entitlement to play in the highest-level FFV competition.
Earlier this year, at very short notice, the FFV entered a team from Melbourne Heart Youth in the State League Division Two North West competition for the 2013 season. After a backlash from the clubs, this decision was revoked. It was an incident which showed how little regard the FFV had for it's member clubs, and how it was no longer concerned with their best interests.
Melbourne Heart entered the A-League in 2010-11. A private franchise, it is not a part of the FFV and has never paid a cent in affiliation fees to the local governing body. The FFV had no right to place a team of theirs in the competition ahead of any member clubs. That it did left clubs wondering what their membership of the the FFV was worth and if their rights were being upheld. The affiliation fees vary in scale through the leagues, with VPL clubs currently paying almost $15,000 for the privilege of fielding their Senior and Under 21's teams.
Should some of these clubs end up in "Community" leagues from 2014 and beyond, can they expect to be paying a fee more in line with the $5,200 that State League Division Four clubs currently pay, or even the $2,900 paid by clubs in State League Division Five? Surely "Community" clubs won't be expected to pay any more than that? Will such a difference leave much of a hole in the FFV coffers, given the heavy financial loss it sustained in the last financial year? Or will there be no relief in exorbitant fees for these clubs?
When you consider there are clubs in the system that having been paying these fees for upwards of sixty years, there are those that have invested heavily in the game about to be  treated very poorly with the proposed restructures.
Upon the inception of the A-League, it was the FFV which ran and funded the Youth and Women's teams of Melbourne Victory. That's right, a private franchise which was not a member of the Federation was benefiting from programs drawing on funds raised through the affiliation fees paid by grassroots clubs. Unless I was to go into partnership with Mick Gatto, I doubt I could start a business which could be funded in similar circumstances.

In recent years the FFV has made significant changes to it's constitution and the rules of it's competitions. Whilst clubs have invested heavily in paying for the right to compete and rise to the highest level, the FFV now have the discretion to add new entities as they please or as is their plan, to create a new top tier of their own design. Will we see refunds to clubs denied their rightful place at the top?

In the establishment of the NPLV, the FFV is entering very murky waters indeed. It will be cheating the clubs that have paid for it's existence, for an unproven model which may end up doing more harm than good.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

NPLV and FFV Makes a Recipe For Disaster

The issue of Football Federation Victoria (FFV) and it's implementation of the National Competitions Review (NCR) and the establishment of the National Premier League Victoria (NPLV) is too big to be properly covered in a single blog piece. Over the next few days, I will look at it from several varying perspectives.
Perhaps the first issue that comes to mind when pondering the proposed NPLV is the fact that it is being put together by the FFV, an organisation mired in mediocrity and failure. Since the FFV began taking a more hands-on role in junior development, we have seen Victoria fall behind the other states. The number of Victorians in the Socceroos has dwindled. Yet the organisation that has presided over this decline continues to push for changes which could make things even worse.
It is interesting to note that in the first year that Melbourne Victory took control of their Youth team after previously farming it out to the FFV, they won the Championship. There is case to argue that one of the F's in FFV must surely stand for Fail. Football Fail Victoria or Fail Federation Victoria have run Victory Youth and Victory Women's teams with a spectacular lack of achievement considering we are the second largest city in the country.
So when such a body presents a blueprint for the future, the quality and soundness of it's plans have to be questioned. Especially given the FFV is coming off a year in which it recorded a loss of nearly a million dollars. Can the viability of it's plans for the NPL Victoria be taken seriously given such a poor record in financial management? Can we trust their projections in crowd and sponsorship revenue in light of them having gotten it so wrong in the past?
With the FFV about to restructure it's competitions between "Elite" and "Community" leagues, I am left to wonder what suggests to the FFV that they know anything about being elite? Despite the success of the A-League, the game has gone backwards at a local level. Check out the videos on and and see how a small group of dedicated volunteers, and then a lone volunteer, have produced an output which puts the full-time staff of the FFV to shame. In recent years the Victorian Premier League (VPL) has gone from having full page match reports on each fixture in Goal! Weekly, two or three matches featured in a highlights package on Channel 31 and well-updated Facebook page to just the Facebook page. That does not sound like an improvement or progress to me.
If a senior men's zonal competition was viable, why didn't the FFV get it up and running when it commenced the inaugural Victorian Summer League? The answer can only be it wasn't viable. They have already tried and cut their losses before total failure once before. It wasn't viable then, and can only get up and running via the FFV destroying the current clubs to impose a new league set-up. If it then still doesn't prove viable, it can join the long list of failed and re-branded FFV programs and they will start again. It will only be then, however, that the amount of damage done will become fully apparent.