The Football Federation of Victoria have launched an ambitious plan to reinvigorate football in the state, with the goal of quadrupling participation numbers across the board by the end of 2011.
The cornerstone of their new plan is to create a zone-based summer competition going all the way from the seniors down to under 12s, including the women's game. This is in line with the FFA and national technical director Rob Baan's goal of having the country's best players playing 35-40 games a year. At present, most players at the Victorian state level will play at most a total of 30 competitive games a year.
Eight of the zones will be located within metropolitan
The 12 sides to participate will all be new franchises, though so far there is no indication of who will fund these new operations. The FFV hopes to use the state's premium football stadiums, such as
Players for the senior men's competition will be sourced from the various VPL clubs, as well as recruiting from regional areas and interstate. It is expected that players who participate will still be the nominal property of their 'winter' clubs, so that in the event of them being transferred to the A-League or overseas compensation would be paid to those clubs.
While the changes have been warmly received in some quarters, principally from those in regional areas and those who believe the Melbourne Victory model of broadbased franchises can work at a state level, many supporters of VPL clubs are sceptical about the changes.
Their concerns range from the practical, in terms of players lacking pre-seasons and the possibility of injuries to their players, to the more ideological, with some seeing it as a further attempt to marginalise the traditional ‘ethnic’ clubs by adding another tier in between the VPL and the A-League.
Their doubts also take into account the previous mooted and never actedon reforms of recent times, principally the so-called V-League, which was supposed to be introduced for the 2008 season. That plan which was also meant to overhaul the way clubs operate, essentially by compelling them to produce women’s and junior teams, as well as upgrade their facilities in order to participate at the highest level, was eventually delayed and then shelved.