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Football needs change, but not for change’s sake

Midfielder Roar Guru

By Midfielder, Midfielder is a Roar Guru

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    What kind of leadership does football in Australia require? (Photo by Paul Barkley/LookPro)

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    There is much debate recently pertaining to FFA and their inability to react to change. Let’s be up front and say much of the current problems are of FFA’s own making, having created expectations within the broader football community they could not deliver on.

    My dilemma is not that change is needed, but what change to make, and who gets to decide.

    A lack of analysis had led to uninformed recommendations and attacks totally lacking in credibility.

    Rather than defend FFA, my approach is to talk about two simple aspects.

    The Whole of Football Report
    In this 2015 report, a major stand out item was that Australian players had only an 18 per cent conversion to watcher compared to other codes, where the base was 86 per cent. This followed on previous reports with similar outcomes.

    FFA research on player conversion concluded one of the major reasons was the lack of mainstream media support, and that football was not accepted as a sport in the same way as league, union and AFL.

    FFA devoted much time and effort to turn that around and have been successful, yet this platform needs to be built upon.

    Without analysis, recommendations are invalid
    I find it impossible that when the last media deal was signed that Frank Lowy, the FFA board and David Gallop were unaware of the importance of international breaks.

    Fox and Channel Nine are both on record as saying they don’t support the breaks, as they lose viewers.

    If, there was a revenue cost to FFA to have international breaks, then the discussion should be about how much we are willing to pay for the breaks. My assumption is FFA made the decision to forego international breaks for revenue reasons, choosing money over breaks.

    I highlight this one aspect to show that many criticisms of FFA are inaccurate and unbalanced, which masks real issues and who has made mistakes.

    Anyone who has ever worked on a committee will tell you things just get bogged down by selector interest and infighting. One of the chief causes of the NSL failure was the committee systems many clubs had.

    Do we want an ‘enlightened dictatorship’ or democracy running the gmae?

    Should whoever is in charge make decisions after a broad representation of the football community votes, or do we want a model that listens to various views and makes timely decisions?

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • March 17th 2017 @ 10:01am
      Mark said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      With the international breaks, in the early days of the A-League it wasn’t such an issue because so few Socceroos players were playing their club football in the A-League. No need to stop the league to cater for a couple of players.

      As the proportion of Socceroos playing their club football in the A-League grows, and more players in the A-League are representing their country, an international break becomes more of a necessity. For some clubs, the absences are almost reaching the levels of NRL player absences before State of Origin.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 10:17am
      Chopper said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      I want a competent board and CEO that are transparent with the football community as a whole. I would like them to divest themselves of the A League and appoint a commission that runs the A League autonomously. To do this they may have to take on financial partners and give those partners a stake in the A League. Let us not be complacent about the leagues importance to football as a whole as it is the breadwinner for the sport and as such it should be given precedence over all other football related activities including the Socceroos. I am not aiming to downgrade the Socceroos however irrespective of the fate of the National Team the A League will still be marching on, can that be said in reverse?

      Of course what the fans and members want is action and they want it now but the current board are not built with the same passion as the fans as they are the conservative suits that the fans believe are holding the game back. In their defence (the board) it becomes hard for new followers of the game to understand the full financial impact of the national teams from Matildas to under 17, under 19 ,under 23 (Ollyroos)and Ange’s full International squad. Until recently these teams played without a sponsor which has been a huge draw on finances that have in the main been derived from A League activity. Every training camp, every coach, physio, doctor, team uniform/playing kit, accommodation and travel will have been an immense cost and that of course without taking into consideration match fees.

      So even with a much improved TV deal we are told there are insufficient funds for expansion yet through the media and the grapevine there appears to be twelve or more potential teams willing to throw their hats in the ring. The conservative board are fighting battles on many fronts with FIFA, the NPL clubs and the A League and so have not released the promised criteria for expansion. Nor have they released an acceptable upgrade to democratic governance. The only answer is for the A League clubs to be released from the shackles of the FFA along with the millions in TV revenue that the league generates. Add to that serious expansion bidders that have financial backing in the multi millions and we could grow the A League which in turn creates more places for the Caletti’s and McGrees in our youth teams to progress eventually to the national team.

      • March 17th 2017 @ 1:40pm
        Midfielder said | March 17th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report


        Astute post …

        More over I think its time the Lowys moved on… we need some new blood ..

        When identifying FFA issues that need correcting we need to understand the issue … to simply point at something and say thats wrong we should do this … without understanding why it was done that way in the first place makes little sense to me.

        This is why I choose the International Breaks you would have to a fool and living under a rock not to understand their importance …. to assume then FFA agreed not to have them or not ask for them is farcical IMO… It means the issue is what are willing to pay for IB’s not should we have them…

        Its one simple example of how the issue being discussed becomes very heated because people are assuming FFA had a clear choice.

        In todays smh …. a massive article that Super Rugby will not take a June break and push it back to July meaning not season break … akin to our IB’s… tis said will add to the revenue by Fox because there is no break.

        442 and some journalist are calling on how wonderful the state teams re and how they could run things… you gotta say do you remember when these teams last had control…

        Change is certainty needed and new leadership is needed but not without proper analysis. Certainty not run by a committee of general interests as that never works… you appoint a leadership group to listen to all views understand the product an all stakeholders needs and make balanced decisions … and these decisions need to be timely

    • March 17th 2017 @ 1:41pm
      Midfielder said | March 17th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report


      I can’t see a single word that warrants moderation..

    • Roar Pro

      March 17th 2017 @ 4:36pm
      Jeff Williamson said | March 17th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

      The FFA would help themselves and everyone if they were more open.

      For example, FFA says they do not have funds for expansion. But nobody really knows why, because FFA do not release any info.

      People would accept FFA decisions if we knew the reasons.

      • March 17th 2017 @ 4:59pm
        Midfielder said | March 17th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report


        I don’t think there is any doubt you are right..

        I actually blame Stephen Lowy for that part … he just keeps everything within a very tight circle…

    • March 17th 2017 @ 5:35pm
      MarkfromCroydon said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

      Exactly right. we all have our own inherent bias and opinions and we all have our own ideals of how we want to see football played, and how we want it structured organisationally. The game needs someone to ‘step back’ take a broad view, do the research and see what is best for the code as a whle in this country.

    • March 18th 2017 @ 1:54am
      RBBAnnonymous said | March 18th 2017 @ 1:54am | ! Report

      I am not sure why the FFA should accept lower money if we adhered to International breaks. We should be asking more money. The logic behind this is that any International players playing in the A-league will be available for matches and so you get a better quality product. How many games did a player like Marc Janko miss jetting off to play for Austria, how many players from the big clubs were affected when Australia plays Internationals.

      The FFA is totally at fault in the mess they got themselves in. They love to talk a big game especially when tv deals come around but they never deliver on the expectations that they themselves create. The Marquee fund is a classic example. These are funds which should be distributed to clubs but will remain idle because the FFA can’t find the next player like ADP who will fill their ridiculous criteria.

      Another example is working on the releasing of expansion criteria. Just the thought of criteria has investors buzzing and new teams wanting to be formed. There is “interest” from a number of bidders who could have 4-6 excellent teams but noooooooo. Firstly the FFA delays the process to February this year, then they delay it to Jun-Jul to not at all. The earliest possible time for any expansion is 2018-19. I mean you couldn’t make this up if you tried. The main reason is money of course. That’s all well and good but why plant that idea we could have expansion in the first place. It’s a ridiculous way to run an organisation. They did it apparently to give themselves leverage in tv negotiations. How did that go. We went from a deal aiming for about 100m (Gallops predictions) to a deal roughly around 45-50m per year (without bonuses or incentives). It’s just not good enough.

      Now if you want to keep defending them Middy be my guest, but the FFA as far as I am concerned don’t have a leg to stand on. I have no idea how you can keep defending the incompetence of this board. We need a PROACTIVE and dynamic leader at the helm of the FFA, Gallop is not the answer. That’s a hard fact.

      • March 18th 2017 @ 2:43am
        Midfielder said | March 18th 2017 @ 2:43am | ! Report


        Thanks for your reply … just a couple of points of clarification…

        You said Why do I keep defending FFA …. Well actually I don’t … this is what I said very earlier on
        “””My dilemma is not that change is needed, but what change to make, and who gets to decide.””

        Second I have agree numerous times that much of trouble FFA finds itself in is because of its own inaptitude.

        Let me further say in reply to the post by Chopper& Jeff I said..

        “”More over I think its time the Lowys moved on… we need some new blood ..””
        “””Change is certainty needed and new leadership is needed but not without proper analysis.”””
        “””I actually blame Stephen Lowy for that part … he just keeps everything within a very tight circle…”””

        If you consider this defending FFA, Gallop & Lowy then we have a different understanding of the English language.

        What I argue a lot is when people make IMO beyond poor assumptions and treat these as fact.

        I also say that whoever and whatever form the new structure takes the issues will not go away.

        I also say others have made mistakes and that everything is not the fault of the FFA.

        Essentially my argument is not that we should not change and that the Lowys should move on… more get it right and look at the errors everyone is making…. I assume you accept that others have also made errors or are you of the belief it’s only FFA…

        I used the International breaks and you argued it should not be this way we should get more … who is arguing with that … now go and convince Fox… I ask you hand on heart not the other thing do you seriously believe FFA 4 years ago did not try to get international breaks into the Fox schedule…

        I repeat if FFA decided with no penalty from Fox I will go down and throw them out … however logic an all available evidence says Foxs had a financial penalty… if I am right the debate changes ..

        We need to get the new structure / model / system right and we need as far as possible not to make the same mistakes again. Also there needs to some acceptance we have had some major gains. As there should be an acknowledgement things could be a lot better and communication coming from FFA over the last hHHHHmmmmm say 18 months particularly the last 9 months has been beyond poor.

        In closing I challenge many assumptions about the strength of our market size and power and who and what will replace our current models …. Its nowhere as easy as many seem to think …

        • March 18th 2017 @ 7:57am
          j binnie said | March 18th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

          Mid – No one here has questioned the “international break” and why it was introduced into our sport,but one thing is for sure it would have had it’s origins in Geneva where over the years we have seen more and more “competitions” introduced in order to satisfy the demands of delegates,no doubt instructed by their parent bodies,wishing to cash in on a perceived potential financial bonanza..
          Lets examine the last 50 years in European football.We used to have a rule that said simply if club ?(note the word club) had more than 3 first team regulars playing in an international game that had as it’s basis a competition (World Cup qualification rounds), they could apply to have their game cancelled. No guarantees but a sympathetic ear.
          We had a European Cup started for the champions of each country to take part in, and, in, the main these games were played on a Wednesday afternoon or evening breaking the “football week” into two .
          After a few years of establishment the national Cup Winners wanted a piece of the action and The European Cup Winners Cup was introduced, ,again usually played on a Wednesday.
          Then the heavens opened and we had a plethora of competitions started up for the “also rans” who could see the writing on the wall and wanted their share. In order not to conflict with existing competitions these games were scheduled for Tuesday’s and Thursdays and so the problem of “over exposure” began to take shape.
          Then came along the greatest influencer of all,the TV money that was pouring into the game,money that demanded a say in the programming of games in order that their viewers be given every opportunity to watch any game that tickled his or her fancy. This influence saw the expansion of the “football week” into Friday games,Sunday games and special event games played in time slots that permitted such viewing.
          That brings us back to “international breaks”
          Where in this jumble of competitions, do we fit international World Cup qualifiers and later rounds, into this already overcrowded calendar.
          Solution – we will create “international breaks” under the jurisdiction of FIFA, and the rest of the world (not including Europe) can simply follow our lead.
          Now this is where the discussion gets “sticky”. With a lot of our players playing overseas the “international break” is a godsend to Ange and his cohorts in the national coaching set up, because it means,money permitting ,he can gather his players into a central area and have a “camp” of sorts for the players to get to know each other, As you are aware these “camps” can accommodate up to 40 players and it is here one has to question why we need 40 players taken out of their routines ,knowing that only 14 at the most can be used in a game. (The great Hungarian team of the early 1950’s solved this problem by playing it’s best against works teams from the area).
          But where does that leave the clubs in our fledgling HAL???. The biggest embarrassment is of course in NZ where up to 8 of the national team can be sourced from HAL but why can’t the “old” rule be re-introduced and let them apply for a cancellation in such times.
          With AP’s selections in the main preferring overseas players it is doubtful any other HAL games would be affected.
          So Where is the problem for scheduling HAL games????. Cheers jb.

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