Football NSW: Last Touches of Professionalism

So we thought we might come back and make this a trilogy.

Last two posts on this can be found here and here. For context they’re all about a year apart. This article will cover the changes that have been announced in the last few weeks in a little more depth/thought.

New Streaming Deal
FNSW has been streaming games for a couple of years now. They started with select games before moving onto 2 games a week last year. This new streaming deal however is monumental and it’s a decision we cannot praise them enough for.

The deal mirrors the current ones recently being penned in Queensland and Victoria and as a result a record number of games will be streamed this season. The exciting part is that not only will it include the men, but the women will also be showcased weekly.

For a semi-professional competition, we’re very impressed with the scope of the deal and the professionalism included such as all NPL 1 mens games having commentary and running graphics such as shots on target and fouls throughout the game.

This deal also ensures that clubs will be getting maximum benefits, including quick access to professionally recorded game film instead of a club volunteer official in a bib recording with a handy cam and tripod, and being able to share that footage with thousands of people at a time.

We’ll surely be catching a few streams this season when we can’t make it out to the grounds.

Seniors Re-Structure
Whilst we certainly sympathize with the 3 or 4 clubs who will inevitably have to go back to their local comps, merge or fold altogether we kind of agree that some clubs (not naming names) were just existing and not pulling their weight, so a reduction in teams would strengthen the competition overall.

We are also huge fans of the uniformity of all 4 divisions having 12 teams instead of the current set up where NPL 1 has 12 teams, 2 and 3 have 14 teams and State League has 11 sides.

If the magic number is 48 teams however, who is to say that 4 tiers of 12 is superior over 3 tiers of 16? We understand the limitations with more teams such as field availability, scheduling as well as the concerns from clubs that they would have to play an extended season where they have cited financial concerns in the past.

Further clarification on the future of the seniors program is needed, as there are a few questions that we are sure clubs would have. Is 48 a concrete number? What happens if say Fairfield Bulls wanted back into the system or if Sutherland FA wanted a mens program to supplement their women’s?

We’re sure that we’ll eventually get these answers, but for now we’ll wait for the new system to take place and get settled.

Scrapping the Club Championship
A contentious issue, seemingly with no middle ground. You either love or hate the CC, there is no between. Some argue that it was un-necessary to make the 18’s responsible for potentially promoting/relegating a club and that it encouraged clubs to game the system when desperate such as sacrificing firsts to try and pick up points in 20’s by dropping over-age first graders down. Whilst others argued that the CC is necessary so that clubs can’t just focus on first grade and instead develop their 18s and 20s as well.

Personally, we’re happy that FNSW didn’t back down on their original plans to scrap the CC last year instead choosing to bring NSW into line with the rest of the country (and world) whereby only first grade results will determine pro/rel.

Youth
Whilst we certainly agreed that youth needed a re-structure, we feel that the way that FNSW has decided to administer the NPL youth program from 2020 has gone 1 step forwards but 3 steps backwards.

Firstly, we praise the decision to make running a youth program mandatory for clubs if they want to maintain staying in seniors. Whilst most clubs already either run NPL youth or AYL youth, this forces the stragglers to conform and decide whether or not they want to continue and develop the game in NSW.

Despite this, the rest of the alterations to youth can only be seen as a step backwards or downright confusing. The currently 24 + 18 system was already bloated with mismatched teams and many examples of sides getting beat week in week out by heavy score lines.

The decision to now make the youth system 2 divs of 24 reeks of appeasing clubs that don’t want to give up their “tier 1 youth status” and not to mention the $2,400 rego fee that you’re allowed to charge when in tier 1.

Perhaps the most maddening thing is that despite an increase of teams into youth, teams will be playing less games than they currently play. This because the competitions will split into 1.1/1.2 and 2.1/2.2 after 11 games in which clubs will play a further 11 games for a total of 22 games. A decrease from the total of 25 games + finals that they currently play.

If playing 22 games was the goal why not just couple youth with seniors and make youth 4 divisions of 12? Again, this is probably clubs being selfish for not wanting to sacrifice going from div 1 in 2019 to potentially being div 3 in 2020.

Friday Night Games
Whilst there’s nothing really FNSW can do here as they largely leave scheduling of games up to the clubs to nominate when they want to play games, it’s something we’d love to see in NSW after seeing other states such as QLD and Victoria implement Friday night games into their seasons.

We along with our friends over at the Banter Page ran a poll asking if fans wanted to see Friday games incorporated into the NSW NPL season with a majority saying Yes (whether these fans would actually show up on a Friday night is another thing). However, this shows the demand is there. We feel there would be positives as well for example if the 20’s and firsts were on Friday night and 13’s-18’s on Saturday it would allow for a gap in games
instead of currently where grounds are being used from 9am to 9pm on a Saturday.

It would mean referees could get an adequate rest in between games especially during those early season 30 degree days where thy’re expected to ref 3 youth games in a row, or added time (injury time) could be added to grades below firsts because games aren’t constantly starting one after another.

SAP
Whilst we certainly agree with the core principles of SAP (for the most part) we also agree that it’s probably better off being in FNSW’s hands after they backflipped on handing it back to the local associations last year.

However, we feel it’s due for a re-structure instead of maintaining the status quo.

Currently we’re aware of some clubs (again not naming names) running under-resourced SAP programs either because of lack of numbers or because they see SAP as nothing more than a cash cow to supplement seniors. For a program that’s supposed to be a developmental rep program and certainly costs more than having your child play in the local Under/9’s competition, we see nothing developmental about having teams spending more time picking the ball out of the net than with the ball at their feet.

So, we’d like to see clubs who run under-resourced programs face further scrutiny and possibly having their licences revoked if they continue to ignore their SAP programs.

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