The outcome of yesterday's vote at the FFA annual general meeting concerning the future composition of the FFA congress did not surprise me. Plenty has been written about the fact that the A-League clubs, NSW and Victoria would not support the proposal put up by the FFA Chairman and Board which meant that it would not proceed.

There has also been plenty written about the pressure placed on the president of the Victorian Federation, Kimon Taliadoros, to get him to change his mind or, more to the point, go against the view of his own Board in order to save the FFA Chairman and Board. It's a testament to Kimon's respect for governance and process within his own federation that he did not buckle under the extraordinary pressure. Well done to him, as well as Greg Griffin of the A-League clubs and Anter Isaac of NSW federation and all their boards. 

You see, I think it's time for change. 

The fact is the FFA Chairman we got in November 2015 was really a continuation of the FFA Chairman we had from 2003. Plenty of good was done in that time; the game has made some giant steps in the 14 years since a Lowy was in charge. There have been missteps, such as the World Cup Bid which we may not have heard the last of, but overall the Lowy reign has been good for some aspects of the game.

However, what I do know is that in 'club-land', the game is stagnating at best, going backwards at worst. In large part, this is because of the state federations also and particularly the seven who voted to support the FFA Chairman and Board. 

It is because of this stagnation, and frustration with the inaction at national and state levels, that some of the NPL clubs were motivated enough to form an Association (the AAFC) in March this year. It is why we've put effort into putting together a proposal for a national second tier competition, which we're currently doing more work on. It's why we believe that we also should have a seat (or more) at the Congress table if - as I assume and hope - a FIFA normalisation committee comes in. 

I was interested to read in these pages earlier in the week that a football federation such as Guinea (which has not long ago been the subject of a normalisation committee also) has 51 members in their Congress including all clubs in the first and second divisions and clubs in the amateur league. I read earlier that the English FA has more than 120 members in their Congress. 

That's what I believe we should be aiming for; something bigger that is truly representative of the many moving parts that make up the football community and stakeholders - including fans if they get themselves organised appropriately as in England, Germany and parts of Scandinavia. We also must do something about the state federations which don't have much by way of runs on the board, have had a cosy life for far too long, are not really accountable to anyone, but happy to accept the complimentary VIP tickets to big matches including the World Cup itself.  

I won't make extensive comment on Steven Lowy's press conference yesterday. If you saw it, or heard it, you will have formed your own opinion. I thought it was extraordinary. 

But there is one part I want to address, and it is this. 

SL: We agree that a national second tier is a good objective, but it is an objective that is some time away.

— Football Australia (@FFA) November 30, 2017

As you may be aware, the AAFC met with David Gallop and almost his entire executive team on Tuesday. Contrary to Steven Lowy's statement that a national second division competition “is some time away”, we came away from that meeting buoyed and positive with the support from FFA management. David Gallop even offered to provide a resource to assist us and for one of his executives to be part of a 'Championship Development Team' as we continue to consult with stakeholders, and refine the model, prior to calling for expressions of interest. You can read our media release here

I think it's important to make this point clear. I know that not just AAFC members, but many people who love football and want to see it prosper, want to see a national second division and, eventually, promotion and relegation. Of course, it has to be affordable and sustainable, but our preliminary work shows that it is - something FFA agreed on Tuesday - and our further work will develop the financial model with an even greater degree of sophistication.

I look forward to what's ahead. Just as we tend to turf out governments after they've been in power for a while, change at FFA is nothing to fear. It's not “going back to the bad old days”, but working together from this new threshhold to take the game even further. 

Categories: Opinion | Local

ffa congress, national second division, prorel, npl

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