Junior Football in Australia

First off I must apologise for the lack of content these last few weeks. The reasons are two fold; firstly the NPL season isn’t running at the moment and secondly I have been bogged down with other commitments.

You may remember a while ago we ran an article discussing the price of youth football in Australia. You may also remember that a little while ago on Facebook we shared some instances of clubs grossly overcharging their youth players.

In some instances this was an additional $200 with the most extreme case (for SAP) being an extra $1400, almost double the capped $1500 SAP rego fee chargeable by an NPL club. The worst NPL youth we’ve heard of is $3900 for NPL youth ($2400 fee + $1500 Nick Rizzo academy). These expenses are attributed to canteen upgrades or equipment, compulsory camps and coaching clinics and lastly my favourite; fundraising. Yes, clubs are charging the parents of kids fundraising fees instead of doing the hard work and organising meat raffles, chocolate drives, etc.

This article (http://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/nsw-youth-football-registration-fees-prompt-questions-about-club-funding-models-20161103-gsh8pd.html) from last year in the Sydney Morning Herald covers a lot of what has already, and continues to be discussed.

In fact, if you look at the figures stated last year, clubs have an earning capacity of $11,289,600 based on the maximum figure they can charge. If we worked off the estimate that it costs $300,000 to run, there is still an approximate $8mil left over. And where does this money go? To pay the first graders (allegedly).

In fact, people that we’ve spoken to have given us a lower estimate, citing $32,000 for NPL 2 inclusive of FNSW/FFA fees and insurance per player and the NPL 2 entry fee. On that note if you have more information relating to costs of running a club, please let us know. (A side note and different story all together, but we have gotten word that some clubs haven’t even registered for GST).

Last year FNSW reviewed the investment clubs made in the 9-12s programs finding that on average 38% were coaching related whilst 54% went towards gear, ground hire and other club expenses. The coaches I’ve spoken to complain about getting paid very little, so it’s hard to see that 38% of the $1500 ($570) is going to coaching related expenses.

When it comes time for the clubs to disclose their finances, there have been reports that clubs are inflating the youth costs, whilst under reporting first grade expenses. Of course they have to do that when first graders can be paid on average $600 for a win. So from this it’s easy to see that parents are being exploited to fund the first graders pay checks all to win what, a little bit of prize money and a trophy at the end of the year?

The problem with football in this country is that it has a bottom-up funding model, compared to rugby league which is top down. This can be contributed to the large TV deal that league secures through Fox Sports compared to what the FFA negotiates for the A-League.

Until a big payday comes for football in Australia, we may be stuck with this situation for a while. Or will we? What are the solutions to this problem?

One would be for the clubs to secure greater third party funding. It is important to remember though that not all clubs are doing this, and it is the minority charging the exorbitant fees. Indeed there are some clubs that don’t charge anything, instead raising money in other ways (charging the parents a fundraising fee).

Another way would be the introduction of “The Championship” AKA a second division which has vowed to funnel the profits back through the NPL clubs all the way to the juniors. Will it work out as planned? Maybe not, but this writer is very hopeful that it will.

At the end of the day, football is ridiculously expensive for parents that are either trying to live vicariously through their kids, or believe their kids have the talent and thus are willing to pay for it.

The thing is though, where are all these kids ending up? It’s not into the A-League, and it’s not into other top flight competitions. Some may be lucky enough to move overseas and join a lower league comp to try establish themselves, others will fade away into the system and at best end up playing NPL football whilst becoming a high school sports teacher.

This is the harsh reality of junior football in Australia; with the current set up of a single division league, there are a limited number of juniors that will go through the system, especially with 5 visa spots available for the clubs.


Do you know of any other clubs overcharging on SAP or youth NPL fees? We would love to hear about it. Either send us an email at thecleansheetwebsite@gmail.com or message us on Facebook. Everything is handled with complete confidentiality.

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