At the recent Football Writers’ Festival in Jamberoo, I had the privilege of meeting promising young sports writer Shabab Hossain.
It’s been an improved and refreshing season for New Zealand’s only candidate in the A-League – well, apart from the last few shambolic days in the land of the long white cloud.
Imagine perplexed Yellow Fever supporters discovering the Nix have been fined nearly $1 million by Football Federation Australia. Most would be asking themselves what their team had done to deserve such punishment.
Aussies probably aren’t too concerned with news from across the ditch, but the FFA’s judgement that the Phoenix failed to hit required off-field metrics could affect the rest of the competition playing under the Southern Cross.
No team is safe, especially when there’s a lack of transparency from the governing body in this regard.
Does any punter know the actual ‘metrics’ the FFA are referring to? We need specifics, please. Because, frankly, the 23,648 Wellington supporters who saw their team draw with Melbourne Victory in Round 19 would like to know.
At the moment things sound a lot like Aussie cult movie The Castle, with the FFA is playing the part of fumbling lawyer Denis Denuto.
Ask them, go on: how does Wellington get fined a million dollars when they successfully made the top six and dramatically increased their overall crowd numbers?
The FFA’s answer to this is presumably, “It’s the constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s the law, it’s the vibe”.
The vibe? That sounds like metrics, Your Honour.
This huffing and puffing gives the impression the FFA is looking for an excuse to punish the code of football in New Zealand as the nation’s sole A-League representative approaches its licence renewal.
Or does it suggest the cash-strapped FFA is becoming desperate, having recently paid former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic a severance package? Still, at least the new Central Coast Mariners coach received a written apology.
You know, we really should be celebrating Mark Rudan’s managerial heroics instead. Nix fans ought to be toasting Roy Krishna’s Golden Boot award, not worrying if their team will exist in the near future.
Recently Foxtel decided to cut spending on “non-marquee sporting content”. It was a hasty comment meant to induce fear into other smaller codes – in other words, those that aren’t the AFL and NRL.
Here’s a controversial theory: is it overly brash to suggest an entire country is non-marquee too?
It happened in 2016 with Super Netball. The Trans-Tasman league was abolished, creating a nationally exclusive competition in 2017 within Australia.
Football is obsessed with derbies. It’s understandable that introducing more Sydney and Melbourne teams will grow crowd numbers, but at what cost? You risk shutting out 4.7 million New Zealanders by tarnishing their only A-League club.
If Foxtel continues to cry poor, what kind of vulnerable leader is the FFA bowing to? It’s sport’s version of the Stockholm syndrome, a condition whereby a hostage develops an affiliation with their captor.
Even the bamboozled Australian government rolled out the red carpet last year, giving the pay-TV provider a hefty $30 million handout.
Maybe Wellington’s suspicious million-dollar fine should be split three ways between the Australian government, Foxtel and the FFA?
Those same 23,648 Nix supporters at Eden Park would mostly agree.
Don’t pay. Call their bluff. Ride out the dark storm. Soon will dawn an independent A-League, and football fans will rise on the horizon of the South Pacific.
The Nix are here to stay.