The Cost of NPL Football

If you haven’t already, watch this video from Dunbar Rovers first, then read this article.

Here is a short video by our partner Refine Media showcasing yesterday's 2017 "Business of Football" Lunch, a fundraiser brought to you by Dunbar Rovers FC NPL. Massive thanks to Matt Delves, the organising team at Dunbar, Matt Lawton & his excellent team at Five by Five for putting together an outstanding event. Five by Five run the event on a pro-bono basis, as part of their sponsorship of the club and we are hugely grateful for their support and expertise.

Posted by Dunbar Rovers FC NPL on Friday, 26 May 2017

Some NPL Clubs charge up to $3,200 for kids to play football in this country. Yes, parents are forking out over $2,000 for their kids to play a season of football.

Now you might be asking yourself where that money is going? And you might be thinking that it goes to paying staff and towards facilities. In some situations that would be correct, however a lot of the time that money is being used to pay the first graders their salaries.

Instead, Dunbar Rovers have set up a funding model based on generating revenue from a variety of sources (sponsorship, fundraising events, donations) to fund their club, meaning that no player has to pay to play football for them. The club’s major fundraiser ‘The Business of Football” Lunch is aimed at a corporate audience and had Socceroos Head Coach Ange Postecoglou as special guest in May. Also, by running sponsor network nights, it ensures that sponsors of the club are utilising other sponsors services.

Dunbar is also registered with the Australian Sports Foundation, meaning that all donations are tax deductible, which is a huge help in gathering donations for the club. Donations can be made through this website.

However, their model isn’t without its challenges. Dunbar First Graders accept, because the club don’t charge any of the U13 to U20 players, that they may not be offered cash payments like at other clubs, but Dunbar tries to utlise it’s extensive network of contacts to help players in other ways.

I don’t know about you, but NPL 3 club paying players to play for them seems a bit… strange. Especially considering the winners of the competition don’t receive a great deal at the end of the season.

So what should clubs do, so that we can strive towards affordable football for the youth?

The best start would be to engage sponsors to cover the necessary costs of running the club. Simple enough of a task, considering clubs already have multiple sponsors from shirt sponsors, to short sponsors, match day sponsors etc.

The key ingredient would be for NPL and State League clubs to not pay their players. It may be an unpopular decision for the players, but it would mean that the youth fees could be dropped immediately.

Change, however, must be made from the front. Football NSW has the power to lower the cap on what the clubs can charge (however most clubs charge a fee on top of the cap). The clubs are currently trying to get FNSW to increase the cap, however that would be a terrible mistake, as kids would essentially be priced out of the game, and potentially move to other codes.

Another option that FNSW has is to give concessions to the clubs that don’t charge their youth to play. For example, those clubs could be allowed to sign an extra visa player, or have larger grants given to them by FNSW, advertising paid for by FNSW, again the possibilities are endless.

So whilst a move towards fee free football may be unpopular with clubs and 1st grade players, we must strive to look at the bigger picture. We must take a step back and ask ourselves why are we charging so much for kids to play?

Is there a possibility that the next Tim Cahill or Mark Schwarzer simply drops out of playing football because their parents can’t afford it anymore?

Instead of charging the youth players to fund the first grade teams, we should instead invest in our youth, and look at producing the next Aaron Mooy. As that is a true measure of success.



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