Spin doctors only dig the FFA’s hole deeper

Dugald Massey Roar Guru

By Dugald Massey, Dugald Massey is a Roar Guru

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    No one has ever questioned the work ethic of our football federations and rightly so. Given a choice between working smarter or harder, they always go the latter.

    You’d think FFA would have seen the positives in Clive Palmer singling it out for a bit of treatment, like certain governments have after years of copping loathing from their own constituency.

    Here, finally, was an identifiable enemy outside the window, not inside the mirror.

    Suddenly you could cut the goodwill for FFA with a knife.

    The possibilities ought to have been endless, but having the punters onside must feel to football governors like they’re resting on their laurels, so out went Kyle Patterson and the spin doctors to blow up the bridges again.

    Palmer said he wanted to know why football cost $300 for a six year old.

    If that’s a misrepresentation with potential to damage the game, then obviously football needs to get out there and crush it.

    A good PR flack will do that, without suggesting that it’s a potentially fair point or that junior fees might actually be too expensive for the game’s own good. Taking their lead from Big Tobacco, they would attend to perceptions and let realities look after themselves.

    So what are the realities of junior fees?

    If anyone knew what the big picture was it would be state federations, but they don’t.

    The state federations deliver exactly the kind of responses to questions and complaints about club fees you’d expect from federations accountable to those clubs’ representatives. (They’re looking into it, have been for five years, and they will continue to look into it.)

    All I know for sure is some kids at one club in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne were charged $450 for Small Sided Games in 2011, while another club nearby charged $120 for the same program.

    Rumour has it that another club wanted $350 but some say it was only $250 plus some other stuff. As for the other 600 or so Victorian clubs and the thousands nationwide, you can ask them yourself.

    What I do know though is that no club that I am aware of charges six year-olds $300.

    Clive Palmer, you were wrong!

    That’s the mundane little game our football federations have elected to play with Palmer and his Football Australia, which would be all well and good if no one actually played football and the numbers were all academic.

    Remember? Football is the biggest participant sport in Australia and the majority of those participants are kids who don’t actually need FFA or Football Australia guessing roughly what junior fees are. They already know. it’s on their parents’ bank statements.

    Anyone can say what they like about junior fees but the only minds they’ll be changing are those too far from the action to matter.

    In the absence of credible big-picture fees information from either side, that leaves FFA and its affiliates wresting over fresh air with Football Australia for hearts and minds.

    So which side most deserves the football community’s trust?

    That should be a no-brainer. How could an outfit like Football Australia ever establish itself as a more credible voice in the eyes of the football community than the football community’s very own football federations?

    As it rightly should have, Football Federation Victoria decided to weigh into a raging social media discussion sparked by Palmer’s comments about junior fees.

    FFV decided to tweet the cold, hard facts to football journalists.

    Thinking about it, it’d be a pretty silly move trying to pull any wool over anyone’s eyes at this stage, with trust being the issue and there being something like fifty thousand kids on FFV’s books paying clubs anything from a couple of hundred dollars for a year’s football to, according to the rumour mill, a couple of grand.

    You could try to fudge the numbers if you wanted to but you’d never get away with it.

    “FFV fee for a metro 5-11 year old is $45.50, 12-18 year old is $68.50,” FFV tweeted to one and all.

    Yes, but you can’t actually play exclusively for FFV or any other federation. One has to play for one of its member clubs, and it’s what they charge that counts.

    Anyone who actually plays football will be well aware of that; even Clive Palmer is aware of that.

    There is little use trying to convince no one who matters that junior football is cheap as chips – they’ll find out soon enough if they do decide to play. This kind of approach just lends credibility to Palmer’s claim that football federations are in urgent need of a watchdog, and that they need head and heart transplants.

    For its trouble, FFV might as well have just knocked up a recruiting poster for Football Australia, or failing that, been disciplined enough to keep its mouth shut and its fingers off the keypad and leave at least a little bit of doubt about what kind of game it plays over fees.

    Adding insult, FFA still hasn’t fixed the typo on Kyle Patterson’s job description. It’s meant to be voice for the terrace, Kyle, not voice of the terrace.

    Patterson, was fresh from prompting football supporters to reach for their sick bags by telling Brendan Schwab to put down his Chairman Mao book, after the PFA’s CEO had the audacity to stand up for Gold Coast players while their club was being exterminated. From there, Patterson decided to shed some light on Palmer’s FA.

    “This is another sideshow that has nothing to do with advancing the interests of the game. Football has democratically elected bodies from the grassroots to the state federations and up to FFA at the national level.”

    Tiddywinks enthusiasts might be won over by that but football supporters know all about their democratically elected bodies, why their constitutions are fundamentally different to those recommended in the Crawford report, who benefited from those recommendations being scuttled, and why to the average punter it has amounted to taxation without representation.

    Realistically, if there were anything besides junior fees FFA oughtn’t be drawing attention to right now it’s the nature of its democracy, because that’s handing even heavier ammunition to its critics.

    So, yes, nice work, Kyle and company – two bullets, both feet. And Football Australia hasn’t even begun the research that will draw the bleeding obvious correlations between eight years of expensive “new football” at the grassroots, the redefinition of “elite player” based on financial wherewithal, and the effects that won’t become apparent before youth squads are failing in international competition.

    Nor have they addressed that turning that around will take at least another eight years, nor why some football federations are culpable in the extreme for assigning cheap-trick spin doctors to hose down burning issues, that for football’s sake demand being addressed with real skills and intelligence.

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    The Crowd Says (107)

    • March 19th 2012 @ 8:41am
      Football Fan said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Sorry Dugald but I have absolutely no idea what this article is about…

      • Roar Rookie

        March 19th 2012 @ 1:09pm
        ItsCalled AussieRules said | March 19th 2012 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        This article is about bagging the FFA as inept and rip off merchants.

        Dugald is very experienced at it.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 1:32pm
        Simon Rumble said | March 19th 2012 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

        I think it’s an attempt at the world record for the number of cliches mangled by a sports reporting.

    • March 19th 2012 @ 9:40am
      Rusty said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      lost me

    • March 19th 2012 @ 9:59am
      Cameron said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:59am | ! Report

      One soccer club in Adelaide charge $800 per season just for a player, and yet, you still have to pay for parking fees at the ground and for drinks.

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2012 @ 10:13am
      The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      For those struggling to follow what Dugald is saying, it helps to appreciate his history on the Roar in:
      1. criticising soccer clubs for the very high junior playing fees which they charge (which really start to mount if your child is recognised as being “elite”); and
      2. the lack of democracy and representation of grassroots at state level.

      Dugald has previously mentioned the hope of some succour with Palmer’s crusade in highlighting both of these concerns of his.

      In this article, Dugald mentions Palmer criticising clubs for charging $300 for annual junior fees.

      Dugald reveals FFV’s silly foray into social media. Noting that parents would know precisely how much they are paying, it was stupid for the FFA to weigh in and mention what the FFV fee was – as if that would allay everyone’s fears.

      In fact, it does the exact opposite – because parents now understand fully the extent to which clubs are ripping them off – which is at the heart of Dugald’s crusade!

      • March 19th 2012 @ 10:25am
        Bondy said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        There’s no other sports for them to play, there all to voilent those other games “concussion”.

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2012 @ 10:35am
          The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with Dugald – I’m simply providing a bit of a synopsis (no one writes bigger articles on the Roar than Dugald, although they are usually quite well written).

          From what I observe, even if the fees are high (and on the face of it, there is an arugment there that they are quite high), parents appear willing to pay it.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 19th 2012 @ 11:06am
            David Jones said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:06am | ! Report

            It doesn’t cost $300.00 to register a 6 year old – it costs $23.20 and the FFA gets $12.00.


            That seems pretty reasonable to me.

            • Roar Guru

              March 19th 2012 @ 11:13am
              The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:13am | ! Report

              Are you being serious or trying to be funny?

              Aren’t you making the same mistake as the FFV tweet? Seems a bit odd that you would go out of your way to do that.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 19th 2012 @ 12:15pm
                David Jones said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                I think you and Dugald are the ones with the agendas.

                It costs $32.50 to register a 6 year old in Victoria and the FFA get $12.00.

                Everyone keeps pillaging the FFA for the high cost of football registration as though they are ripping off all the little kiddies, but all they get is $12.00 and that’s reasonable for the things they do – all ages, all competitions, national and international.

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2012 @ 12:21pm
                The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

                I’m hardly pillaging the FFA!!

                Dugald is trying to make the point that you pay fees to a club when you register your child, in other words, what the FFA and state body get is a small percentage of what goes to the club.

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2012 @ 12:30pm
                The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                And in any event, I have backed the FFA over Palmer from the very start, and queried Dugald in his last article as to whether any good could come out of Palmer attacking the FFA.

                But on the question of fees for kids, that’s a fair enough issue to discuss – let people put up what they pay (as I did below), and people can decide whether it’s too much or ok – what’s the big deal?

                However I can’t see the point of putting up part of the fee – which is what you are doing, and I’m not sure why you are focusing on that.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 19th 2012 @ 12:49pm
                Trust Me said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

                Come on TC.

                You, like Palmer and Dugald are trying to create the impression that the FFA are ripping people off.
                They are not.

                It costs a 6 year old $0 to play rugby league in Melbourne and in Sydney they give you a $20 NAB account to play AFL.

                How is the VFA or FFA supposed to compete with that?

              • March 19th 2012 @ 2:02pm
                JamesP said | March 19th 2012 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

                @ Trust me. How do they compete? Well, they could sign up a major corporate partner like the AFL have done with NAB. Or I am sure that Frank could pay for it – its well known he’s hardly dipped into his pockets at all (he is very good at asking government and club owners to pay for things).

                Lets see: $20 per say 100,000 young kids is $2m – that is pocket change for Frank….

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2012 @ 2:13pm
                The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

                The VFA can’t compete, that’s why it was subsumed about 15 years ago.

              • March 19th 2012 @ 2:37pm
                Bondy said | March 19th 2012 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

                I agree with Trust Me, Dugald’s never written anything positive here for over 12 months ironically with Cattery snapping at he’s heels half the time .

                Rego fees have to be near comparible to other sports it’s a competitive market, you cant charge a 12 year old $100 to play another sport and $67,000 to play football thats not right and the parents don’t buy the fear campaign .

              • Roar Guru

                March 19th 2012 @ 3:03pm
                The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

                I actually had a go at Dugald for his last piece in suggesting that Palmer was good for the game. I have been critical of Palmer for two years now. It’s an interesting list: those who have supported Palmer through thick and thin, right here on the Roar. It just goes to show – you just never know what people are thinking.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 19th 2012 @ 3:35pm
                David Jones said | March 19th 2012 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

                The FFA do compete somehow.

                Even though NRL charge nothing for rego up to U10s and the AFL pay you to play AFL, football is still the most played sport and continues to grow.

                Imagine if football was free or Westpac gave kids a $20 bank account to play football.
                It would wipe out the orther codes at junior levels and they wouldn’t have enough grounds to hold them.

              • March 19th 2012 @ 3:38pm
                JamesP said | March 19th 2012 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                @ David Jones – “It would wipe out the orther codes at junior levels and they wouldn’t have enough grounds to hold them.”

                So why doesn’t it happen David? Where is the corporate support? Where is Frank? He can afford it!

              • March 20th 2012 @ 12:16pm
                me, I like football said | March 20th 2012 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                What Australian Football clubs charge $0, my sons Auskick costs $60 and his under 10 club football (aussie rules ) is $140

            • March 19th 2012 @ 11:23am
              Lucan said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:23am | ! Report

              The cost to actually get a kid on the park varies greatly from club to club. We need clearer break-down in what the costs actually are so the specifics can be addressed.

              * $XX Federation registration
              * $XX Federation insurance
              * $XX ground hire
              * $XX coach’s fee
              * $XX uniform

              Ground costs aren’t the FFA’s fault, parents and clubs need to take that up with whoever manages the facility. (local council, etc.)
              The costs dolled out to coaches, and uniform requriements would be a club issue. If these are too expensive parents should push the clubs to be more realistic with their apparel provided and the fees negotiated by the coaches.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 10:46am
        Futbanous said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        On point one surely in the end it matters not a jot what Dugald does or says. The public vote with their feet.
        If parents feel the fees are too high they won’t pay. If not committed to football they’ll find a sport or indeed outlet with cheaper fees.
        Indications are that numbers playing football have not dropped off under the current fees.
        Watch the FFA or FFV immediately take action if they do .
        Parents pay the fees, parents pay the mortgage clothe & feed their children not Clive or anybody else.
        On point two I doubt that in very few countries in the world grassroots football has representation or sway at senior level.
        Sure you need a connection,but that connection comes from the child wishing to either support or if good enough play for their local professional team(initially at least).
        That is all the connection thats needed between grassroots & professional football.
        Just because it hasn’t happened in Australia yet doesn’t mean you can create an artificial situation that somehow gives grassroots a major say in professional football.
        If that was the natural order of doing things it would have happened by now as grassroots has been big in its own right over the last 30 years,but has in the main chosen not to support the professional game.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 11:12am
          Lucan said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:12am | ! Report

          Embarassing to suggest the only connection should be a kid’s desire to play for the pro teams. In reality, it is the professional league that should be independant of the FFA, not grassroots football.
          FFA are the representative body of the SPORT, and members/stakeholders (grassroots, etc) should very much have a say in who represents them and how things are run.

          The professional league should have an indepentant commission and those stakeholders decide who represents them there.

          Currently the FFA is juggling both, and not satisfying either as well as they’d like to

          • March 19th 2012 @ 11:38am
            Futbanous said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:38am | ! Report

            Why embarrassing? Seems an odd thing to say.
            Seems you’ve got the wrong end of the stick.
            Nowhere do I mention the professional league being independent of the FFA.
            That IMO is a separate issue.
            We are talking about kids fees here & overall grassroots being represented higher up the football food chain.
            As i said previously grassroots has had enough chances to support professional football by turning up to matches even in the NSL as I did.
            That is the traditional way people who play football or have played football at lower levels support the professional game.

            • March 19th 2012 @ 12:40pm
              Lucan said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

              Sorry, I got the vibe you were suggesting the pro game was more important and grassroots shouldn’t have a say with the FFA. Re-reading, I’m not sure where I got that from, my bad.

              I do think FFA needs to be doing more to engage the grassroots, and grassroots back to HQ. The fact we’re still getting misinformation re exorbitant fees for kids is indicative of the gulf between the top end and the bottom.

              • March 19th 2012 @ 1:04pm
                Futbanous said | March 19th 2012 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

                No worries. Hard to interpret on a blog sometimes whats in the other persons head.

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2012 @ 11:23am
          The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          I agree with your very first point (voting with feet and wallets), and said as much in my response to Bondy above.

          • March 19th 2012 @ 11:52am
            Futbanous said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:52am | ! Report

            Yer saw that.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 19th 2012 @ 10:50am
      David Jones said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      The FFA is to blame for the Carbon Tax too!

      It doesn’t cost $300.00 to register a 6 year old – it costs $23.20 and the FFA gets $12.00.


      That seems pretty reasonable to me.

      But don’t let that stop everyone baggiing the FFA again.

      Seems to be the country’s most popular pastime at the moment.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 11:41am
        Roarchild said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:41am | ! Report

        Actually the FFA fee was an extra ordinary fee brought in that never went away. Prior to that the FFA/Soccer AUstralia got nothing and gave nothing.

        They still give nothing but they take $12 from kids.

        Hardly reasonable.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 19th 2012 @ 12:10pm
          David Jones said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

          I think you are being a bit unfair on the FFA, that they do nothing – who brought in and administers the samall sided comp for a start, who runs all the interstate and national youth programs and competitions.

          How much does the AFL, NRL, ARU get from each registration?

          • March 19th 2012 @ 2:25pm
            Roarchild said | March 19th 2012 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

            They brought in SSG which is a great initiative but they don’t provide much coaching support nor actually run it.

            For 12$ per child I would expect a LOT LOT more given that’s a massive amount of money in total.

            If your from QLD, VIC or NSW you could make into an A league team without ever having to play in an interstate competition.

            It’s a very small % that are benefitting from those programs but they are taxing everyone and it makes the game less competitive for attracting kids. While other sports are subsidising their programs we are imposing extra costs.

          • March 19th 2012 @ 3:28pm
            jbinnie said | March 19th 2012 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

            David – Careful,careful,careful my friend. I am sitting looking at a photograph of my grandson in a team of 6 (2 were missing from the photo shoot) who is now 16.It was taken when he was playing in an under-8 small sided team which means there was an organised under age small sided league in vogue at that time ,that is 8 years ago – 2004. When was the FFA set up?
            Seriously David,the small sided games idea for kids between the ages of 6-12 was introduced into this country by an English coach,Eric Worthington, and that was in 1975. I have an article written by one of Worthington’s coaches in Qld,Dennis Ford, where he explains in detail the long term advantages to be had from playing small sided teams on small pitches.Don’t be fooled by the spin emanating from ????????? I can prove what I have said. Cheers jb

            • Roar Rookie

              March 19th 2012 @ 3:49pm
              David Jones said | March 19th 2012 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

              Small sided football is run by the FFA

              We’re not talking about a training method, this is a full fledged national program.

              • March 19th 2012 @ 6:52pm
                j binnie said | March 19th 2012 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

                David, Did you not say in your original offering that the FFA “brought in the small sided comp”???? I simply pointed out that I was coaching a team in an organised league for under-8’s in a small sided team playing on smaller fields before the FFA was created.I was not talking about a training method, I was talking about an organised league.jb

              • Roar Rookie

                March 20th 2012 @ 10:07am
                David Jones said | March 20th 2012 @ 10:07am | ! Report

                Who is paying for the Small Sided Football program that the FFA runs?

              • March 20th 2012 @ 11:31am
                jbinnie said | March 20th 2012 @ 11:31am | ! Report

                David. Where the hell are you at?.What does it matter who is paying for any programme?. That was never the point under discussion. You said the FFA introduced,note that well “INTRODUCED”, small sided games to Australia.I simply pointed out THAT was a story put out by “spin doctors” who don’t know the sport existed before 2005.
                Now if you want to be a disciple to that thinking then so be it.but there is a site on SBS just now called “Coaching the Coaches” and the whole content is based on this premise that the FFA started all these improvements.In 1974 the then top body, the ASF brought a coach to Australia whose much publicised job was to “Coach coaches”. His name was Worthington and his wages were paid by Rothman’s the cigarette people.Inside 12 months he had a coach domiciled in every state with the aim of “Coaching Coaches”. Note the recurrence of the phrase.History can teach you much,where mistakes have been made,but in our sport the same mistakes seem to occur over and over and over. Why is this so?. Spin doctor’s doctoring the facts,and worse still,people believing them. jb

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2012 @ 11:50am
      The Cattery said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:50am | ! Report

      Out of curiosity, I decided to check the fees of a junior soccer club I had been involved with up till last year (about 4 years involvement in total).

      They have kept prices the same as last year:
      U6s $115
      U10s to U18s $170.

      There might be a one off registration fee with the FFA as well.

      The club also offers discounts for multiple registrations for kids from the same family. The club is quite a family friendly club, but personally, by the end of it, I was sick of it all, and was more than happy to step away from it when my son lost interest.

      I never found it a financial burden, but it’s possible that some families might baulk at paying that much. At U6s level, it’s basically a half hour run around inside a handful of cones, with the kids chasing the ball outside the cones more often than inside the cones. It’s a good intro into team sport, probably the best available at that age. 10 x 30 min equals 300 min or five hours, and you’d probably be hardpressed finding 5 hours of organised activity that costs less than $115.

      The $170 per season at U18 level seems pretty good value – you’re starting to get some serious coaching at that level, however, it is true that if your child gets earmarked for an “elite” program – get ready to open your wallet big time – and that’s probably where some questionable behaviour starts to creep in – it’s often unclear where exactly much of this money is going.

      This club I’m talking about has no shortage of such “elite” programs, but I’m not aware of a single professional player it has produced in its whole history – so questions should be asked about what that is all about.

      By way of comparison, my daughter’s netball fee is around half that for a similar amount of time on court, and similar opportunities for coaching.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 12:46pm
        Lucan said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

        Footy fans/families. How much does the AusKick program cost, and what sort of contact hours do kids get?

        I know it is heavily subsidised by AFLHQ, but like TC’s netball example, it is good to know what football is up against.
        Has the GoalKick program been completely abondoned for SSG, or is it still availble in some corners?

        • March 19th 2012 @ 1:40pm
          Brendo said | March 19th 2012 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

          As a way of comparsion. Just registered my 6 year old (will turn 7 this month so is Under 7) in both Auskick and SSG

          Auskick $67
          You get
          15 sessions of 90mins = $3 per Hour
          Football (Synthetic)
          Drink Bottle
          End of Year Medal
          2 Tickets to a AFL Match

          SSG $390
          You get
          44 sessions of 75mins = $7 per Hour
          Playing Strip
          End of Year Medal
          Professional Paid Coach

          Before people comment I am crazy paying this much this was the cheapest (close) club that run their Under 7 program on Sunday Mornings which I needed so the boy could do both sports (which is what he wanted). There is another Football club nearby who offers the same deal for $200 (minus the paid coach) and less sessions which would work around $4.20 per hour.

          In terms of your Goalkick question, the second club I was talkign abiout above offer a saturday morning only program that is based upon a combo of Goalkick and SSG. It is $115 for 18x75min session and is the closest equilivalent to Auskick. You also get a Optus Sponsored FFA pack.

          • March 19th 2012 @ 2:14pm
            Lucan said | March 19th 2012 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

            Much appreciated, Brendo.

            And good luck to your young one.

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