Postal Damage

In 1991, Crystal Palace chairman Ron Noades made a statement that rocked the football community. Noades was a much respected Chairman of a Football League club, but his comment was downright racist. Noades had said, “The black players at this club lend the side a lot of skill and flair, but you also need white players in there to balance things up and give the team some brains and some common sense.”

Noades survived this scandalous comment and remained at Selhurst Park until 1998, before he moved to Brentford where he became, Chairman, and believe-it-or-not even first team coach; He steered Brentford to promotion and won a Divisional Manager of the Year award.

There was no social media back then. Had there have been Noades would no doubt have been hounded out of the game.

Since the dawn of social media, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like the world we live in has changed dramatically. Sportsmen and women have to be very careful what pictures the publish or send to friends, or even if they have pictures posted of them drinking alcohol. Many have fallen foul of a rash comment made in the heat of the moment.

The truth is if you wish to be a professional athlete or administrator, or hold any position in society you must be careful what you put out in the world of social media. Instead of think before you speak, think before you tweet, or post!

There is an understandable backlash in Western Australian football about comments made on Facebook, a very public forum, by a president of a state league club.

Calls have been made for the FFA or local body Football West to take action and ban the said individual. Yet neither honestly has any power to do so. The FFA would be entering a hornets nest as their own National Club Identity Policy has been accused as racist and as we discussed would struggle to stand up in a court of law. (Football Cleansing – A Step Too Far).

What can Football West do? In the last eighteen months they tried to fine a club for bringing the game into disrepute, when a player from that club was involved in a brawl in a nightclub. This decision was quite rightly challenged and the ruling was Football West had overstepped its jurisdiction. So what action can they take against an individual who writes opinions that are his own on a social media site, and a thread that has nothing to do with football?

Ultimately it comes down to the club with whom he is connected. Do they feel that the comments have come back and hurt them? They also need to remember that the club concerned represents a region, and carries that region’s name. If the individual’s comments and views have been associated with their club and in their opinion caused a negative effect then they must take action. If people from that region, or the football community as a whole feel that the comments are inappropriate from one holding such a position, then they too have every right to air those views and make the club or the individual aware.

Is an apology acceptable? Should the individual concerned do the honourable thing and step down?

Whatever the outcome this situation should be a lesson to all who like to use social media or comment on public forums. Comments that may have gone away in Ron Noades day, are now there for posterity and can frequently come back to haunt you.

December 20, 2014 at 4:27 am Leave a comment

Words With No Meaning

It was great to receive the press release from Football West announcing their newly elected Board members.

Before looking at these individuals a vote of thanks should be given to Rob MacKay who was forced to step down after serving two consecutive terms on the board. Rob has always been approachable and has represented the amateur game exceptionally well and has always put the game ahead of himself. He has been a credit to the board.

Henry Atturo was elected unopposed and local journalist Gary Adshead was also elected. Gary has always been involved in football and having had his father coach in the State League, in the A-League and at a World Cup, while he has covered World Cups he will bring a great deal of inside knowledge to the board.

What is baffling are the two other appointments, which appear to go against Football West’s constitution and thereby possibly render the election invalid.

Perth Glory Deputy Chairman Lui Guiliani and former Socceroos goalkeeper Jason Petkovic have been elected. It is very unlikely that Mr Guiliani has stepped won from his role at Perth Glory, so he therefore holds an official position at a club under Football West’s control now that Perth Glory are part of the NPL (Sticking to the Rules).

According to Cockburn City’s website Mr Petkovic is listed as a committee member at the club as well as a goalkeeping coach. Both official positions which render him ineligible. He could however have stepped down from both roles in order to stand for the board, and the club may well have not updated it’s website, but it would have been good to have some clarification from Football West.

What is a concern is the constitution is a legal document. The rules and regulations must be adhered to. These have been registered and are legally binding. There are a number of professional businessmen on the board who should be well aware of this and therefore one wonders why at least one of these candidates was not disqualified. Remember Football West ignored the constitution in regards to postal applications for the Standing Committee elections, surely they are not doing the same again?

What is a greater concern is the Standing committee elects the board members. How come those involved in the election do not know the constitution under which the game is supposed to be run?

Former Perth Glory CEO Paul Kelly who was a Board member of Football West stepped down from his position on the board after a perceived conflict of interest. What makes Mr Guiliani’s appointment any different. Perth Glory is a privately owned and run football club that is constantly looking to gain the best local talent for its youth teams. Having the Vice Chairman of the club on the Board of Football West is a massive conflict of interest, and quite simply should never be permitted.

Yet unless the football community find a voice, it will be and the constitution may as well be torn up and thrown in the bin.

December 19, 2014 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Not Alright Jack.

It was interesting to read former Socceroo World Cup goalkeeper and FFA Board Member Jack Reilly’s suggestion that the FFA should close down the State bodies around the country. His comments raised a number of pertinent issues.

First of all, if we are to be cynical one could say that such a comment has been made to break the ice for the inevitable. The FFA are well aware that the AFC want all National competitions to be run separately from the game’s governing body in that country; the deadline was moved last year with no new date confirmed, although 2017 is believed to be the target.

With the A-League club owners meeting with the City Football Group in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago, and discussions on the clubs breaking away from the FFA and running their own affairs on the table, the FFA need to start planning for the future. A future without the television rights, or sponsorship dollars that the Hyundai A-League bring in.

Hence the importance of the NPL and clubs handing over so much control when they signed up for the competition. With the Socceroos on the wane in terms of their World Rankings and their performances on the pitch, sponsors have started to leave the brand, such as Optus and Qantas. New revenue streams must be found to fund not only the national team, but also the administration of the game. If these funds cannot be found cuts to administration will be inevitable.

If we look at Reilly’s comments on face value, the question has to be asked have the State bodies served their purpose? Many who criticize forget that these bodies are not just running one facet of the game, they are overseeing, semi-professional, amateur, social, women’s, youth, athletes with a disability, culturally and linguistically diverse programs, referees, Futsal, a W-League side in some cases, as well as coaching courses. It is no easy task to keep so many balls in the air – if you will excuse the term – and keep everyone happy.

Where some of these state bodies have failed though is in their structure. They are top heavy with management positions and salaries that they simply cannot justify. A more well thought out business model would serve the game far better. In Western Australia this very issue was raised close on six years ago by two people at board level, yet nothing has changed.

State bodies need fewer overseers and more doers, people passionate about the game who will put in the extra hours because they care about their jobs, love their work and the game. One question that has been raised but never answered, is why do the state bodies have all their staff working Monday to Friday when their key days of operation are Saturdays and Sundays? Surely that in itself is poor management of resources and staff?

However the blame cannot lie with the State bodies alone. The Standing Committees have a great deal to answer for; although had the State bodies ensured that these were run properly that may have helped, but that of course was not in their interest.

How can a State standing committee have a Chair who has not been elected to a position? How can that Chair take free lunches and invites to key games as part of his role? Should he or she not have to declare such freebies as anyone in the corporate world would have to do? How come there are no minutes of the meetings available to all of the clubs in the Standing Committee representative’s area? How come those elected in the various regions are not sending a report to every club they represent after each Standing Committee meeting? How come an application for a candidate for the standing committee was received by mail within the time allowed in the constitution yet the CEO was able to dismiss that club’s nomination, as they had not submitted it by the electronic deadline?

These issues are relevant, as the Standing committees were created to be a voice of the clubs, parents and players. They were meant to steer the game’s administrators in the direction those they represent wanted. The administrators were expected to listen to their views and where possible instigate such moves for the betterment of the game. With representatives of not only the State body but also board members – who in truth have no place here – sitting in on standing committee meetings, many representatives have felt “gagged” from speaking up and fear retribution for holding a polar opinion to that being pushed by the Chair and the State body. That is not a healthy environment and not what was intended when the Standing Committees were suggested in the Crawford report.

The overriding problem now is the State administrators are taking the clubs and players down a pathway many do not want to go. The standing Committees have no power and no voice; most have no idea of the constitutions under which the game is supposed to operate, so have been unable to stop decisions being steamrolled through. With no correct processes, many with self interest or club interests have assumed positions of power and once again the game has no unity.

Had the FFA had the best interests of the game at heart they would have created a “watchdog” to police the structures and the people appointed, then the system would have worked. The aviation industry like many others has such a body, to ensure all business is carried out as per the regulations. With Football administrators having to oversee so many facets of the game, and the history of corruption in the past, surely such a measure would have been obvious? Now the FFA want total control, after a system they instigated, yet failed to police and surprisingly ended up not the success everyone expected. People should think very carefully before allowing that to happen.

The future starts with those playing the game, who need to ensure they elect a Standing committee that represents them, and whether they will accept representatives being co-opted onto the committee. The last election no one would reveal who voted on the candidates, the fact is not all State League clubs were asked to vote for their representatives in Western Australia, and the Electoral Commission show that hardly any votes were cast.

David Crawford invested a great deal of time in his report to give everyone involved in the game a voice. Many have chosen not to use that voice, some have abused the privilege of being a spokesperson for the masses, and the administrators have chosen to follow the FFA’s path rather than those they are paid to administer. To hand power totally back to the FFA will be a retrograde step. All that is required is for people to take a more active interest in the running of the game and ensuring that correct procedures are followed at all times, and that there is complete transparency in the way the game is run.

Ultimately the game gets the administration it deserves.

December 11, 2014 at 12:17 am Leave a comment

Off Air

Regular listeners may have noticed that we have gone off air slightly earlier than normal this year, our apologies for that.

Anna is in Argentina with the Hockeyroos where they reached the final of the Champions Trophy and took Argentina to a shoot out, but sadly lost. Simon is in India with the Kookaburras at the men’s Champion’s Trophy where Australia are looking to revitalise their squad and are blooding players for the future.

Regular host Ashley is currently in Europe filming for two documentaries that he is currently working on, one ( “Fight in the Dog”) about three Irish rugby players who all played for the same club, all played for Ireland and all were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour in Britain. The other (“Return to Your Corner”) is about the first ever African born World Boxing Champion who is in the record books as being French, as this was the colonial power at the time.

That left John all alone in the studio, and as he has worked tirelessly through the year at the station and working on Not the Footy Show, it seemed only fair that he be given an early break this year.

We hope to be back again in 2015 as the show is now in its 9th year and has aired over 400 shows and 75 sports. We will keep you posted here and on Facebook.

From all of us at the show have a great Christmas and a healthy 2015.

December 8, 2014 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment

Learning From Others

Ever since the dawn of the A-League there have been calls for Australia’s talented footballers to stay at home rather than head overseas and make a name for themselves. You will find many in favour of such a view, many holding the opposite opinion. The truth lies somewhere in-between.

It was interesting in the recent FFA survey that this was in fact one of the questions; did fans want to see Australia’s best players playing in Australia in ten years time?

We have seen of late a very large number of talented youngsters return to the A-League in the prime of their careers; this is not good for Australian football at international level. Some have returned as they have struggled to find regular first team football. Some have claimed they have returned because they want to put themselves in front of the national coach. The latter reason raises a very different issue, that of the national coaching staff following the Australian players adequately.

There is no doubt that many of the young players who have returned, and those who will return in the near future have been poorly represented by their managers. Whereas a top flight club and a big salary may be a massive carrot and good for one’s ego, it may not in fact be the best move for a young player who needs games under his belt. Many having failed to break into the first team head home rather than drop to a lower division and gain experience, and much needed game time.

Scotland have just taken a look at their development programs as they too find their best players heading across the border to England and abroad to play for better teams in better leagues and improve as players. Australia will always suffer the same fate. The A-League, no matter how much hype, will take a long time to match the top leagues in Europe, if indeed it ever does.

Scottish football highlighted that many teenagers are leaving to join academies at clubs in other European leagues because the coaching is of a higher standard than they would receive at home. This is a similar issue in Australia. The FFA have failed to invest adequately in Youth development. Their National Training Centre program is on its last legs. The reason being the money has dried up to support it. If they cannot support their own development programs, what chance is there of them underpinning the NPL clubs programs?

That being the case, if overseas clubs wish to invest money and coaching staff why would you turn them away? Surely this way there is a better chance of keeping that talent in Australia a little bit longer.

So what are the options that Scottish Football unveiled. The first was that more clubs could make youth development their central, over-riding priority. The idea being that  players will be convinced that their game will improve by staying in Scotland into their early 20’s instead of leaving in their late teens. Australia should seek the same goal. However the A-League clubs should not be linked to the NTC youth teams but should have to invest as a club in such programs; after all these are private businesses. It will in fact be interesting to see how this pans out if the FFA do shut down the NTC programs in all states rather than a few, and if the A-league clubs will pick up the cost.

The money on offer in England and Europe will always be greater, and compensation fees for the development hours clubs put in; hence why it is vital the FFA pass on these fees within the timeframe outlined in the FIFA Guidelines. If the FFA offered a financial incentive on top of the FIFA compensation fees to clubs who develop top-flight players, (subject to appearances in Europe), then again clubs may hold onto players and ensure that they are ready for the next step before sending them overseas too young. Scotland has identified that there might be ways to encourage or reward Scottish clubs for buying home-grown talent.

Scottish football has acknowledged that it “needs to be creative to take advantage of the opportunities that circumstances have brought.” Gone are the days of being bold and brash in the transfer market, – Sydney FC in Australia are proof of that –  clubs must realise the economic benefits of developing young players, a path Alistair Edwards advocated at Perth Glory, but which was abandoned in search of instant success within six months. Young local players playing for their local club re-energises the bond between fans and their teams. Scottish football has recognised that and is working towards that goal.

Australian football is naive, and needs to learn from others, here is a great chance to watch what Scotland does and learn and adapt to suit our needs. There will be a benefit in keeping our young talent in the country a little longer, -providing coaching is of a high enough standard – then we will have the players form a link with a local club before heading overseas and making a name for themselves. However the FFA must invest in the NPL clubs and let the A-League clubs run their own youth programs, monitored by the FFA.

 

December 8, 2014 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

Sticking to The Rules.

It used to be that Football West’s Annual General Meeting was always held the first week in December, but once again it is being held the week before Christmas, at a time when many will struggle to be able to make time to attend.

It will be held at Perth Soccer Club on Wednesday 17th of December. The same venue that has hosted the two FFA Fan forums and previous AGMs. Other clubs can feel rightly miffed that they are not given the opportunity to host such events, but the biggest question is should the game’s governing body be holding such a meeting in at any club? Surely it should be held at an independent venue?

There has been a call for nominations for the Board and hopefully there will be people who will put their hands up for such a role.

As the Football West website does not advise when many of the current board were elected, or co-opted onto the Board, Not the Footy Show asked whether any current members were up for re-election.

We were advised that the popular “Rob MacKay has served two terms and cannot seek re-election, although any previous director can occupy a position as an appointed director.” True, but not for two years after he held his elected position on board according to the constitution.

Henry Atturo’s term expires at the AGM and he is entitled to stand again although confirmation as to whether he intends to has not been given. With the Standing Committee’s having a say in the composition of the board, his aggressive pursuit of the NPL may come back to haunt him.

Football West also advised that Deputy Chairman of Perth Glory Lui Giuliani had “been filling a position on the board on a casual basis. This position expires at the AGM but he is also entitled to stand.”

Not according to the Football West constitution. According to this important document he is not entitled to stand for the board, and should not have been allowed to “fill in” even on a casual basis. Under section 10.4 of the Football West Constitution and the sub-heading Eligibility it states:

A person who:

(a) is an employee of the Company or of FFA; or (b) holds any Official Position,

(each a Disqualifying Position) may not stand for or hold office as a Director.
A Director who accepts a Disqualifying Position must notify the other Directors of that fact immediately and article 10.20(c) applies.

As Perth Glory now have teams playing in the NPL they cannot possibly have a representative on the board, especially not one who holds an official position. Mr Giuliani is the Vice Chairman of Perth Glory and has been since Tony Sage purchased the club. Former Football West Board Member Paul Kelly eventually stepped down when he took over as CEO of the A-League club after questions were raised over a conflict of interest. The same would apply to Mr Giuliani.  If Perth Glory are allowed to bypass this rule in the constitution, then every club in the NPL is entitled to have a director of their club hold such a position as well. One has to ask why if the Board is looking to cover all the required skill sets they would require a third financial expert to join the other two being the Chairman, Mr. Twigger and board member Mr Andrawes.

One reason why the Football West website should reveal when Board members are elected or co-opted is that the constitution clearly states under section 10.7 Rotation of Directors that

  1. (a)  Despite article 10.6, at the annual general meeting relating to the financial year ended 30 September 2006 and at each second subsequent annual general meeting one-half of the Elected Directors must retire from office.
  2. (b)  If the number of Elected Directors is not a whole number which is a multiple of two, the number of Elected Directors is to be rounded down to the next whole number.
  3. (c)  At the annual general meeting relating to the financial year ended 30 September 2006 the Chairman will not be a retiring Director.

(10.6 states that each Directors term is for a four year period. A question to have this reduced to two or three years in line with most organisations was raised at previous AGMs and was rejected).

It is vital that the website reveals this information. As there has been a shift in appointments in recent years and the four year cycle has been interrupted by resignations and people co-opted onto the board. Therefore the constitution maybe need to be changed to reflect this.

The Football West website currently does not even feature the name of Howard Gretton who was co-opted to the Board in September 2013. No press release has been sent out to advise that he has resigned his position, if he in fact has. This would be the logical explanation as to why his name is not listed. Go to that ever reliable source Wikipedia and Mr Bob Kucera is still cited as being a Board Member, when he stepped down in January 2013 as he was running for Parliament in the state election! To add to the confusion if one tries to access previous annual reports to work out for oneself the dates of Board appointments the 2010 edition does not open, and one receives a message stating “Not Found.”

These are all issues that should be a general part of “housekeeping.” Correct information on the website, access to annual reports, and knowing the constitution under which you operate. It now falls on the shoulders of the Standing Committee representatives to ensure that all of these issues are corrected when they attend this year’s AGM. It is also hoped that the late date of the AGM will still see them in full attendance, if not they should ask for a postponement. This is an important meeting especially in relation to appointing new board members. After all the Standing Committees were elected – well some were, and we won’t go into that here – to represent the stakeholders. They have an obligation to attend the AGM and vote for the candidate their member clubs feel is the appropriate candidate; at least that is what the Crawford Report said they would do.

 

November 29, 2014 at 1:13 am Leave a comment

Another Innings Declared too Soon.

There is no doubt that the passing of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes at a time when he looked certain to return to the Test match arena has rocked this sports mad country. The way in which he lost his life seems unbelievable.

There have been shouts for helmets to be revised, as on this occasion the ball evaded the helmet when it struck the fatal blow. There has been talk of no longer bowling bouncers, or short rising balls aimed at the batsman’s body. These are all natural reactions, but over reactions.

One thing that cricket should remember is that this was a very rare occurrence. If it wants to act responsibly it should ensure that all playing the game learn to play as those of yesteryear learned, by keeping your eye on the ball at all times. Too many young players turn their head away when a short ball is bowled at them and expect a chest pad or helmet to protect them. The best way to protect yourself is to learn the basics properly, and that includes evading rising balls; the plethora of padding available these days and T20 style cricket, where technique is often left in the pavilion has meant the basic rules have been forgotten.

In fact the past few days have highlighted the fact that other cricketers too have lost their lives playing the game in recent years.

Just last year South African Darryn Randall aged 32 who played for Border was hit on the side of the head when attempting a pull shot in a South African domestic match. The wicketkeeper-batsman collapsed and was rushed to hospital, but he died from the blow.

Also in 2013  up and coming player Pakistani player Zulfiqar Bhatti aged 22 was struck in the chest by the ball while batting during a domestic game and fell to the ground. He was too was sadly pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Former Indian one day international Raman Lamba in 1998 was hit on the head while fielding during a club match in Dhaka. He went into a coma three days later, before being pronounced dead.

Former England opening bat Wilf Slack also passed away while playing, but of a heart problem.  Slack collapsed and died during a domestic match in Banjul, Gambia. It was later revealed he had suffered four blackouts in previous matches, but despite carrying out tests, doctors were unable to diagnose the cause of his death.

Then there have been players who have been lost to the game too soon off of the field of play and Ben Hollioake’s name is one that jumps out. Another that many cricket fans in Australia will recall is the name Archie Jackson, who passed away during the “Bodyline Tour” of 1933 aged just 23. He wrote for the Brisbane Mail and insisted that Bodyline was legitimate, held no threat to the game, and that it could be combated which was a minority view in Australia at that time.

Jackson was destined for great things and he left the world far too young aged just 23 and having played 8 test matches and having scored 474 runs at an average of 47.40. He suffered a severe pulmonary haemorrhage. Members of the English and Australian teams visited him in hospital during his last days. On 16 February 1933, Jackson became the youngest Test cricketer to die until Bangladeshi Manjural Rana in 2007; who died in a motorcycle accident in the West Indies. The nation mourned his passing as one.

Philip Hughes is another who has left us far too young and his passing will witness a similar outpouring of emotion in Australia, to a level not seen since probably the passing of Jackson.

The Test Match continued in 1933 and one feels that if the players feel they can play that the Test Match next week should also go ahead. It has been suggested that as Hughes was about to make his return to the side he should be named twelfth man in tribute. This would be a wonderful and fitting gesture, although he would obviously much rather have been playing.

 

November 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm Leave a comment

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