The following missive was sent to us by the same writer of last year's popular anti-NPL piece. Feel free to share and comment upon this effort.
Well, I was really looking forward to this when I heard Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop was going to address the public – but like most things in Australian soccer, and life, it has served to disappoint and reinforce the entrenched power structure to continue on as it pleases. What a great box ticking exercise to get the sheeple in a hype over the start of the A-league season, while at the same time showing the ‘unconverted’ how forward thinking and hip soccer is. Yes, you know that you’re in for a bad read when I refuse to use the word football. I grew up knowing the game as soccer and I’m not ashamed to use that word. If I was as well-heeled as Frank Lowy I might be inclined to get the Skyhooks to do a remake - 'Soccer is not a dirty word' has a nice ring to it. Kind of like Coles teaming up with Status Quo, but I digress, maybe on a further tangent than where Paul Mavroudis has ever dared to venture. Probably not. That guy is wacky in an intriguing kind of way. I’m not. I’m pretty straight up and if you’ve been following my not so infrequent tirades against the (soccer) man you’ll know that what I’m about to tell you is going to be frank, open and in your face. Some of you may not like it, but do I care? No, because the truth is confronting and speaking it is not a crime, should not be frowned upon and is the morally upright thing to do.
Leading into the Gallop ‘speech’ I was thinking to myself which David Gallop would turn up. Would it be the David Gallop that has been polished out of recognition by the marketing department’s copywriters? Those pesky fedora wearing types that sit in a dimly lit room smoking hand rolled pencil thin cigarettes churning out the annoyingly catchy buzzwords that corporate Australia loves to latch onto? What the fuck is robust?
Anyway, it was as I thought. A thoroughly rehearsed, bland and ultimately false-hearted delivery by a guy that is capable of much better. But, you can’t blame him. I mean you can, but I won’t, not just yet. Let’s begin where David Gallop begins:
Everywhere you look at the moment, you can see that Australian football is enjoying a golden period. And it's about to get better. The months ahead have the making of football's biggest ever summer.
We have an unprecedented run of finals, tournaments and big occasions that will see the game of football in the daily lives of more Australians than ever before.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say golden period - but if that’s the way you want to spin it, I’ll let that go because I see through that shit, as do most people – especially the ones that are so rusted on and fanatical about the game that they will watch an exercise in ticking boxes from a soccer administrator.
The game has 1.9 million participants - the biggest of any sport in this country - but we expect to see the football family swell in the months ahead.
David, this is a lie. The FFA marketing department, and you as its mouthpiece, love to bring out this line whenever they get the chance. It’s a good line as well. The biggest participation numbers of any sport in this country. Wow. If only it were true. This number, as you know, is based on the FIFA Big Count where Australia is ranked in the mid 50s. The FIFA Big Count is split into three categories. The first is registered players which National Associations cannot falsify, as you’d know it’s part of FFA’s official reporting to the world body for soccer. The number of registered players in Australia is 435,728. There is another section which is in regards to unregistered players, or players that play socially, in church competitions and other parts of the game such as indoor soccer not under the auspices of the FFA. This is an estimated number put forward by each association and then vetted by FIFA. This number is 535,000. The third and final section relates to officials (being match officials, club officials, registered coaches etc.) – this number is 67,632. This gives us a grand total of 970,728. It’s an impressive number, but the one that really counts is the number of registered participants. That’s 435,728.
All the other numbers are irrelevant. Your recent survey which you commissioned with the purpose of inflating Australia’s participation numbers, because of the age old soccer small man complex that has infected the game in some quarters ever since I can remember is a big fat lie. The FIFA Big Count numbers more than likely have double and in some cases triple counted participants (a person that simultaneously plays for a club, plays indoor or school soccer and coaches, referees or is in a club committee) which is a concern, but how you got to 1,960,000 participants is anyone’s guess. Creative accounting was never my forte. Please stop bringing out this propaganda, because people see through it for the most part, and it’s kind of embarrassing that our own national body craves relevance so badly. This is a good point of reference from a source that is more reliable than a privately commissioned survey designed to reinforce how good you are.
We'll have record-numbers of Australian fans in stadiums watching the Socceroos at the Asian Cup, the Hyundai-A-League's momentous Season 10, the Westfield W-League, which is underway right now, and the final stages of the Westfield FFA Cup and PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues finals.
Australian football will be on the TV screens in homes, pubs and clubs, in digital channels and social media - and we expect bigger audiences than ever before.
These are all good things and I can’t disagree with much here.
And because of the game's booming profile, the mainstream media will generate more attention than ever before.
Football has a great story to tell, and I thank all the media here today for their interest in telling it to your readers, listeners and viewers.
Read: thanks to the media for getting behind us, you’ve been a powerful ally in propagating our message for the most part.
You can see there are six trophies up here today... three will be won before Christmas, and three after...
The three before are the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues trophy, the Westfield FFA Cup and the Westfield W-League trophy.
And the Hyundai A-League Premiers Plate, the Hyundai A-League Championship trophy and of course the AFC Asian Cup.
There'll be all sorts of drama, great football and magical moments before the silverware you see here is held aloft by the winners -- but that's just part of the story.
This exciting period for Australian football is book-ended by two major global events ... the FIFA World Cup in Brazil earlier this year and the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada next year.
Having the Socceroos and Westfield Matildas at World Cups creates a wonderful halo around Australian football and showcases what it means for Australia to be a part of the world game.
This is one area where any Australian soccer administrator can’t make a mistake and is something 99% of people within the game agree on – that the Socceroos are the single most unifying factor within the sport.
There are other major factors at play to make this a remarkable time for the game.
Firstly, the convergence on the calendar of so many events - from international to the grassroots - and the way they showcase a sport so full of opportunity, optimism and growth.
Secondly, we're seeing the connection between all the tiers of our game come to life - it's closer and more productive than ever before.
This is currently my most hated buzzword coming out of head office. Connection between all the tiers. What fucking connection? There is no connection. There is no promotion and relegation to and from the A-league. Likewise in some states, the new-old NPLs have also entrenched clubs as either ‘elite’ or ‘community’ (two more shit corporate buzzwords that can fuck right off) while at the same time people generally go about their soccer business (playing, supporting, administrating) at the non-A-League level totally oblivious and very much in contempt of any metaphysical connection that you have cooked up on Level 22 in Oxford Street. You talk about connection? There are currently the privileged and the rest. Ten teams (I won’t give them the courtesy of being called a club, because it takes more than a graphic designer with a design brief to create a club) receive a television rights dividend of $2.5M per annum from the FFA to cover player wages and to ensure the sustainability of the league.
Meanwhile, the rest of the clubs up and down the country have to self-finance to field teams in all ages, find sponsors (normally friends or family) and volunteers to work in the kiosks to sell the dim sims and kransky rolls that go into subsidising the costs of the clubs. And when a club like this, run on a totally voluntary basis for the love of the club and by extension the game actually contributes to the greater good of Australian soccer by producing, unearthing and nurturing a player to a high level of quality – he is stolen away by the privileged few at the top, who not only get their TV money, but at the same time get free pickings to any player in the country. And then they sell him off for a big profit while the little club is still selling South Melbourne Dim Sims. What do these clubs that do the hard lifting get? A token mention on Fox Sports about player 'x' coming from club 'y'. Yeah, club 'y' has good 'z' (food). Awesome connection.
The lower tiers of the sport (and by that I mean anything not the A-League) are not there to be servants to the A-League. This is where our philosophies diverge. You have a Head of Community Football, who I thought was responsible for looking into and taking care of everything except the A-League. But no, the God of the FFA, the almighty dollar, dictates that this position is for a person to engage ‘community football’. What does this mean? This means that not a fuck was given by FFA to the plight of anything but the A-League – so much so that the Head of Community Football’s job is to go out and ‘engage’ with these ‘community football’ clubs and basically sell them why the A-League is so good and why they should all jump on board to follow the A-League. So it’s actually not about helping these clubs up, it’s about helping the A-League up while shitting on anything else below. That’s been the modus operandi since day one. You shouldn’t be surprised, but you are a little bit, I know you are.
The success of the Westfield FFA Cup is proof. That's an historic development - the football community is moving as one.
The announcement of the FFA Cup is a welcome one. The Cup has been a good step in the right direction. However, the tokenism of, for example, calling South Springvale a pub team, when most in Victoria know that they have a relatively high budget is pretty disingenuous. On top of that, you keep banging on about the magic of the cup, 'like our very own FA Cup' – like England is the only country in the world to have a cup competition. Australian soccer has gone backwards in some respects - where before we were comfortable within our own skin, ability and knowledge, now we continue to second guess ourselves. The football community is not moving as one. Your number one priority is the A-League, and there are still plenty of people out there that don’t want a bar of it and care deeply about their traditional club, youth development, futsal, the Pararoos and another whole host of ‘agendas’, for want of a better word.
Unity of purpose - too often a question posed about us, rather than an affirmation - is now a strength.
No it isn’t. We don’t have a unity of purpose and I don’t think we ever will because the history of the game in this country is disjointed and I don’t think you stating that we are all on the same page makes it true. Nice words, no substance.
That's why today - on behalf of the football community - FFA is making a major statement on the future of Australian football.
It's time for a National Plan for the Whole of Football that will set us on our way to making football the biggest and most popular game in Australia.
Wait, what you’ve done over the past 10 years was without a strategic plan? Or is it that you’ve realised that there’s more to soccer than the top national domestic division into which you have sunk most of your time an energy as an organisation?
This is not a plan just for FFA; it's a plan for the Whole of Football.
From the five year old playing MiniRoos to the heroes playing for the Socceroos.
From the grassroots of community football to the pillars of the professional game.
For all the stakeholders and all the partners at all levels of the game.
I find that very hard to believe. FFA since its inception, and at the behest of Frank Lowy has been an organisation in a position of absolute power. He wouldn’t have taken it on if he wasn’t guaranteed a tenure, because as we all know and sometimes forget, Mr. Lowy took his ball and ran home in 1987 after his team had already played a match in the national league that year. What people accuse those on the outside today of doing, Lowy did himself in trying to destabilise the game when he didn’t get his way like a petulant little child. Just to prove to you what the FFA thinks about stakeholder engagement – I’ll run through the National Constitution just quickly. Specifically Rule 3.5 relating to Standing Committees. The Directors must establish Standing Committee x, y, z etc. I started to investigate these national standing committees. When I couldn’t find them listed or referenced anywhere, I called Head Office. I spoke to a person in the legal department who relayed to me that the FFA hasn’t had the need or ability to convene these Standing Committees. Oh, OK then. It must be all too hard. So let's recap. The FFA has within its Constitution provisions that it have certain Standing Committees (like the State Federations) that will give advice to the Board on issues that it has been convened under. The FFA decides not to have these Standing Committees at all. And you keep believing that they give a shit about you and your shit opinion.
It's a plan for all the fans who love this game and those who are on the mission with us.
I suppose I’m firmly in the not with ‘us’ camp. It’s OK, I’ve been called much worse before. It’s just disappointing that the FFA thinks they ‘own’ the game, can control its dynamic wishes and ultimately decide who can and can’t be a part of the mission. Seems like my description of the old wog clubs and their disciples, of which I am a proud standard bearer was right – they do see us as a dangerous fifth column.
The need for this plan has become obvious to me after almost two years as CEO of FFA.
I am excited and ambitious for the game, but I've come to understand that Australian football suffers from a "burden of opportunity".
It's the reality we see today - the game has a huge growth trajectory and massive potential, but we don't always have the capital, the resources and the structures to harvest the opportunity.
To put it another way, we have many mouths to feed, but rarely do we have enough to go around.
We could sit and wait for things to change, and certainly the game will continue to grow if we were to continue our current course, but leadership demands more of us at FFA.
I agree to a certain extent, but I am cautious to believe you as you’ve disappointed on a number of occasions, not least of which your recent correspondence with a fellow concerned football administrator. He wrote to FIFA about promotion and relegation in regards to the statutes and the A-League, you cracked the shits when you found out and basically asked him not to write to FIFA but to you. So he did and asked the same question. Your reply was more words with no substance. Basically, there will be promotion and relegation, one day. When is that day? Ignore and talk about something else. These CEOs must have a module at school on how to talk without being pinned down to anything specific. I reckon there is room to make a compilation of AFL journalists asking questions of Andrew Demetriou being answered by the CEOs of other sports. You all speak the same double-Dutch, no pun intended.
The National Plan for the Whole of Football will not be an overnight fix, and it will take longer than the next four-year World Cup cycle.
Yeah, we’ve heard that give us time rhetoric before. National Curriculum anyone?
But we need to start and the first step is to galvanise this generation to address this challenge. I will have more to say later on how we intend to proceed.
First, it's important that we celebrate the State of the Game today, because we are in amazing shape for a sport that was on its knees just a decade ago.
The sport was never on its knees. The national body was broke (none of the States were) and was subjected to various political maneuvering to allow for the messianic complex of the Australian soccer pleb to be fulfilled. Clubs across the country were in better shape overall then, than they are today, especially at the lower levels.
This summer, in the middle of the busiest domestic calendar on record, our nation will host the biggest football event we've ever seen.
The AFC Asian Cup is bigger than anything we've seen since the 2000 Olympic Games.
16 nations, 32 matches in 23 days in five cities. That's big enough from a sporting point of view, but beyond the tournament and the matches, football is bringing the Asian Century to life in our own backyard.
I’m a lifelong soccer fan, and up until recently I didn’t know much about the Asian Cup. Most people couldn’t give a shit about it. It’s not going to capture the national audience like you hope it will, I wish I was wrong but that is the reality of it.
Australians will see Asian football and culture on show. And from the outside looking at us, Asian audiences up to 1.3 billion will see Australia on show.
This is nothing new, of course. Our national teams and Hyundai A-League clubs have been building links Asia for years, especially with Western Sydney Wanderers and their fantastic run through to the semi finals of the Asian Champions League.
The Wanderers' 0-0 draw last night in Seoul leaving them tantalisingly close to the Asian Champions League Final.
Football is leading the way for Australia in the people-to-people connections in Asia.
It's another way that football is once again playing a crucial role in nation building.
I agree, but again, much more can be done. Instead of A-League clubs signing washed up hacks, why not sign a promising Vietnamese player that will forge that link between Australian soccer and Vietnamese soccer, as well as the large Vietnamese community in Australia? This is much more beneficial to the connections to Asia and the future of the game, rather than signing the Mario Jardels of the world.
Our game is inclusive, accessible, multicultural and international - they are the qualities that make Australia such a diverse and successful nation.
I was hoping you weren’t going to give me an opening to bring up the National Club Identity Policy, but now I have to. When the policy was released, you were quoted as saying; “The intent of the National Club Identity Policy is to ensure the game remains inclusive and accessible, not just in the way we organise ourselves, but in how we engage with the community. The very name and logo of a club sends a message about what that club stands for. We want clubs that stand for uniting people through the joy of football,” You may want clubs that fit a neat little box so that the marketing department has a straightforward sell, but imposing your political opinions upon the clubs in your jurisdiction is not your place. So step off.
Secondly, the wording of the policy states as a preamble “FFA acknowledges the multicultural nature of Australia and the valuable contribution that various communities have made to the historical development of football in Australia. FFA also respects Clubs’ desires to acknowledge their heritage and contribution to their local communities. FFA has a responsibility to protect and grow the reputation of the sport of football in Australia and to ensure its openness and accessibility to all Australians.”
No you don’t Davy boy. No you don’t. You can’t have it both ways. Either you embrace multiculturalism, warts and all, or you go down the assimilation path which is your policy in practice, not theory. You say that the name and logo of a club sends a message about what the club stands for – if a club chooses to call itself Morwell Italia to cater for the Australian-Italian community in the La Trobe Valley, who are you or anyone else to say that they can’t or shouldn’t or that their message through their name and symbolism is not to be tolerated? It is a club’s choice to stand for whatever they like. For whatever reason, and this is related to your earlier point, if you don’t fit the bill, your plan is to excommunicate (in some way) those that don’t toe the line. I think you’ve bitten off a little more than you can chew here and I sincerely hope that it bites you, and everyone else that has their dirty fingerprints over it on the arse.
By excluding certain types of personal and collective expression through soccer, you are being the opposite of inclusive. By stopping multicultural communities of Australia publicly displaying their culture is being the opposite of multicultural.
Beyond the sporting, cultural and social links, we're now seeing Asian investment driven by football - the $12 million takeover of Melbourne City by the Abu Dhabi interests, the owners of Manchester City, is a snapshot of our future.
I like to say that "as the world gets smaller, football gets bigger" - our game will make sure Australia is always a vibrant player in sport's global community.
The Asian Cup is a festival of football not to be missed. The joyous scenes of Brazil will be coming to your backyard. Tickets are on sale, so let's "Unite for the Asian Cup".
Blah blah, words, buy tickets, Asian Cup, blah.
Let me share the insights to the domestic game that have me seeing blue sky for the summer ahead...
The Hyundai A-League is on target to set new benchmarks for attendance, TV viewership, digital engagement and club membership.
The aggregate attendance is set to surpass 2 million for the first time.
We're aiming for a fourth straight year of TV ratings growth, to see a weekly viewership of 660,000.
The boom in digital and social channels shows no signs of slowing, with 2 million web users and 1 million followers on social media.
Across the league, club membership is currently 13% ahead of the same stage as last season and on-course to break the 100,000 mark for the first time.
Thanks to the huge vote of confidence from SBS TV, we'll have unprecedented reach and audiences for the A-League with the move of Harvey Norman Friday Night Football to the primary free-to-air channel SBS ONE.
The same is true internationally. New rights agreements in India and Africa mean the weekly reach of the Hyundai A-League will top 300 million across 30 nations and five continents.
Of course, this season will celebrate 10 years with our primary broadcast partner Fox Sports, a foundation investor in the Hyundai A-League.
Fox Sports has covered every game live since day one - and given millions of Australians world-class coverage of the competition.
Tomorrow, the attention turns to the terraces. The Hyundai A-League National Ticket On-Sale gives fans the chance to secure their seat for the big matches in Season 10.
This week, the pre-sale for Sydney Derby was the hottest ticket in town - Wanderers members bought at a rate that outstripped two finals in another code.
The Sydney Derby will sell out once again - so if you want to sample this incredible event, go to www.a-league.com.au/tickets from 9am tomorrow (Friday).
Another blockbuster on sale tomorrow will be the Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory match at Adelaide Oval in round 2.
The fixture was a sell out at Hindmarsh Stadium last season, and we expect a new record Hyundai A-League crowd for Adelaide.
Sydney FC's opening round match against the new Melbourne City outfit is also selling strongly, no doubt driven by the expectation of seeing the Spanish World Cup star David Villa.
It's really pleasing to see so many great Australian players choosing to stay in the competition - it's notable that Mark Milligan, a starting X1 player at the World Cup in Brazil, has chosen to stay with Melbourne Victory.
This is a dividend of the growing stature of the Hyundai A-League.
It's the fastest growing professional competition in Australia because it gives us fantastic football, star players and the best atmosphere you'll experience. I can't wait for the kick off.
As expected, the largest chunk of the address reserved for the A-League. Surprised? I’m not.
Last weekend the Westfield W-League started - again with live TV coverage on ABC TV -- and is heading for a Grand Final on 21 December.
Our finest female players are also on the mission of making the Matildas squad for FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada next May.
One of our top priorities is to appoint a new Head Coach of the Matildas, and that's now just days away.
I don’t want to come off sounding sexist, but the women’s game doesn’t interest me at all. Not that I want it to be hampered or discriminated against, it just doesn’t interest me.
There's a renewed mission for women's football thanks to a $500,000 development grant from FIFA and we're building stronger player pathways for our rising talent.
It’s a nice touch to mention FIFA’s grant, but it’s really a drop in the ocean compared to the funding that the women’s game needs.
The FIFA grant will partly fund nine development officers into the community across Australia.
Females already make up more than 20% of our participation base and we are forecasting the numbers to grow strongly in the years ahead. It's our big point of difference in the Australian context and we intend to make the most of it.
See three points above.
Right now, we are in the midst of the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16 and can I say I've never seen a new competition make such an impact on the Australian sporting landscape.
It's not just the romance and upsets of cup football - this is a festival of the Australian game.
From the self-titled "pub team" of South Springvale to the national champions Brisbane Roar, we have a great mix of clubs from across the country.
One of my favourite moments was the Thomas Love goal for Adelaide City that knocked out the Wanderers - whatever else he achieves, Thomas will go down in folklore for that goal.
The magic of the Cup has captured the imagination of sports fans everywhere.
If I may say, I'm so proud of the way FFA has rolled out the Cup in conjunction with the Member Federations, commercial partners in Westfield, NAB, Harvey Norman and Umbro and our broadcast partner Fox Sports.
Yes, give yourself a pat on the back for starting a Cup competition that could have begun in 2005, but didn’t because the FFA wanted to protect the A-League at all costs. Rules still exist in all states that don’t allow any games to be held at the same time as an A-League match, at the discretion of FFA and the local federation. Has everyone forgotten that?
We talk a lot about the strategic objective to connect the grassroots to the professional tier - well; here it is, alive and kicking.
See above for explanation about buzzword ‘connecting grassroots’ et cetera.
Best of all, we have a countdown of dramatic mid-week matches still to come before we reach the inaugural FFA Cup final on Tuesday 16 December.
I can tell you now, other sports would love to have this sort of opportunity, but it can only happen in a game based primarily on skill, not those based on collisions.
Cue crappily veiled troll of other sports. Was waiting for this. A bit of a letdown to be honest.
In the first week of October, the Grand Final of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues will be another chance to elevate the semi-pro tier to the national stage.
OK, how in fact does it elevate them to the national stage? In actual fact, what is the point of the national playoff anyway? You can’t get promoted into the A-League, there is no prize money on offer, your club might get the opportunity to play one or two games in a national playoff once every 7-8 years or so if you’re lucky. Awesome. Can’t wait for South to play in the NPL playoffs again in 2021. Hopefully they’d have invented those wretched hover boards by then.
This year we have clubs from eight state and territory member federations in the play-offs to be crowned NPL champions.
The NPL is the engine room of our player development pathways and - again - a vital connection between local clubs and the national tier.
So far I have counted three. Connection, local losers and national glamour.
So far that's three glittering occasions - the Westfield W-League Grand Final, Westfield FFA Cup final and PS4 NPL Grand Final - all before Christmas.
That's an entree to our national team the Socceroos to take centre stage and seek to become champions of Asia.
Without doubt, Socceroo coach Ange Postecoglou has transformed the team - on and off the pitch - in a matter of months.
The FIFA World Cup showed his strategy of bringing the best young players into the team is quickly delivering results - our team played really attractive football in Brazil.
Already, some of the young guns - like Jason Davidson, Adam Taggart and Josh Brillante - have moved to bigger clubs in Europe.
This is a key part of Ange's plan to rebuild our national team, by fast-tracking our best young players and having more Aussies playing against the world's best, week-in, week-out.
Next month we travel to the Gulf to face the UAE and Qatar and in November we travel to Japan.
Each step advances the cause of the Socceroos and their rebuilding as a national team that truly unites the nation. We saw the journey commence in Brazil, just wait till you see it at home.
What happens on the pitch is the rightfully the main focus of fans and media. What happens behind the scenes is my responsibility.
Let me preface this; personally, I don’t think Ange Postecoglou is a bad or incapable coach. The current bunch of players that we have, and more importantly the ones coming through are incapable of achieving results that mirror or exceed the 2006 World Cup results. Hang on, let’s take a step back and qualify for the next one as a start. I wouldn’t want to be in his position to be honest, not going to be easy.
It's fair to say that the game's governance structures have been a work-in-progress since the reform process of the Crawford report in 2003, and the inauguration of the FFA under the leadership of Frank Lowy in 2004.
Frank Lowy and his board have done so much - starting new national competitions, qualifying for World Cups and joining Asia.
Our chairman's energy and commitment is a source of inspiration to so many people and I want to personally acknowledge his guidance and wisdom.
FFA could not have done this in a decade without the support of so many companies, broadcasters and governments.
At least he admitted (in a long bow kind of way) that the Governance Structures of the Crawford Report were designed in a way to give Lowy absolute control and no threat of a takeover. After that was achieved nothing else was important. Not Standing Committees (see above), not actual accountability…
There are too many to name individually, so you'll see our acknowledgement on the video screens.
I personally thank the leaders of these organisations. They see the opportunity that football presents and we applaud their vision.
Let me return to our major announcement - a National Plan for the Whole of Football.
It's a sign of our confidence in the future and our determination to build on today's foundations - to turn the "burden of opportunity" into an institutional strength and prosperity.
The plan will put the football community at the heart of everything that's important.
If you are a player, a fan, a volunteer, an avid TV watcher - if you are among those who love this game - you are incredibly important to this plan.
And the plan will be critically important to your future enjoyment of the beautiful game.
The scope of the National Plan and some of the key questions for the football community look like this;
In elite player and coach development, I have no doubt we need to overhaul the way we do things. Do we want to see others in Asia setting the standards, or do we want to be the leader?
I don’t think Australia, or any country outside of South America or Europe will be able to develop players to a world standard in house. Why we continue to bang on about this implausibility is anyone’s guess. Our efforts should be centred around a concerted plan in promoting what the Crawford Report wanted to stop (and did) – the player drain of young talented Australian players going to Europe. For the national league this was a bad thing. For the national team, it was great. You have to find a balance and decide which is more important. I think the answer is pretty obvious.
* For our national teams, qualifying for World Cups is fantastic, but do we want to be a contender and challenge the elite nations?
Unless soccer becomes the number one sport in this country and our population grows quickly, only then can we begin to try and be a contender and challenger to the elite nations. Both of those things are out of our control and unlikely to happen.
* Community football is currently a strength in the participation base and our collaboration with our Member Federations. But is it enough to have a model primarily based on clubs and outdoor football when so many people want to play indoor, at schools or just for fun in parks?
So many people do play indoor, in school and just for fun? This statement doesn’t really make sense as the FFA doesn’t receive any income from any of those three activities.
* Facilities are at the heart of our game, but how can we thrive as a sport when the space to play remains a critical shortage?
By lobbying Government for a $1B facilities fund. Without it, it will be left to the clubs to scrounge together the money to get it done, and in that case, it will never be done to the standard needed or in the time-frame needed
* Our national competitions, the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League, PS4 NPL and Westfield FFA Cup provide us with a 12-month of the year calendar, but structures, connections and expansion are big questions for our future.What? Connections, again?
* Fan Engagement is the life-blood of everything we do, whether it's in the community, with our major brands or through the many channels where you find football content. But we need to stay ahead of the trend in this digital world if the football family is to remain strong.
Fan engagement = converting people into customers of the A-League above all else. It isn’t a conspiracy, he just said it. Don’t say I didn’t tell you that it’s the FFA’s number one priority above all else. Why have a vibrant 2nd, 3rd or 4th tier that’s well supported when they’ll be considered a threat to our plan to convert every fan of the game into a fan of the A-League. Why not be happy that people are part of the game supporting their club, whether they play or watch in the local league, State league or NPL?
* Commercial revenues are the dividends of a successful sport, but we know we need to do a better job telling corporate Australia about the massive potential if we are to have the resources to deliver on the game's promise.
Every other time I’ve heard Gallop and the FFA speak about this it has been a very rosy picture of moving forwards in leaps and bounds and gaining the confidence of corporate Australia – this is the first sign of alarm in this regard. Interesting development.
* And our governance structures need to be aligned, efficient and ready for the challenge. Every stakeholder needs to know their role and have the trust in others, and that's the starting point of our ambitious thinking.
The Governance Structures were designed with the specific intention of limiting the influence of stakeholders, and now you want them to push your agenda onto those they have influence over? So either toe the company line and you’re a good bloke, or speak up about the massive structural issues within the game and be condemned a trouble maker.
The first phase of the National Plan is to listen to the game's key stakeholders - clubs at all levels and their members, our state and territory Member Federations, sponsors, broadcast partners, governments and stadium managers.
That is rich. This comes only a month or so after the announcement of the National Club Identity Policy by the FFA where they failed to ask a single club about what they thought of the policy prior to its publication. So someone got an idea in their head that we need this policy, went to the trouble of writing it up, presented it to the State Federations and passed it as gospel. Where and who did they listen to in that instance? I can’t see this organisation and its culture changing from being outright belligerent towards anyone with an opposing view to inclusive and listening.
We'll consult individual participants and fans via an online portal that will capture the voice of the people.
I suppose the results of which will not be made public? Definitely not. Because I could easily hire 50,000 bots proposing a variation of the same idea, it being the overwhelming response to the consultation and it still won’t be accepted as what the people want. If it’s not in line with what FFA and Frank Lowy wants, it won’t happen. The whole thing is a sham and a farce and will not be transparent, like everything else they’ve ever done.
The outcome of this national plan will be a road map to guide all the key stakeholders in the game.
To achieve that, we need to align all the game's stakeholders - without unity of purpose, we can't make a difference.
There's no time to waste. We aim to publish the National Plan at the conclusion of the Asian Cup.
And what of it? After it’s published it’ll be another nice piece of paperwork to add to the National Curriculum, Coaching Handbooks and other wastes of time that the FFA has wasted resources and energy on. More actions, less words.
We need to capture the momentum and make the most of our biggest ever summer.
There is no momentum to capture. The game is in a state of flux, and if you can’t see that – we’ve got even bigger issues than what I thought.
We want to see this simple, skilful and safe game played in every backyard, every school ground and every suburban pitch.
Cue second subtle troll.
We'll do that by ensuring our sport is always inclusive, accessible and multicultural.
Cue second hypocritical lie about inclusiveness and multiculturalism. How do these cocksuckers sleep at night?
This summer, the vision will come into focus. We'll see opportunities starting to turn into tangible achievements.
I’m not holding my breath.
We'll see the enormous promise take shape in our competitions week-in, week-out
We will see football looking forward with dreams that can become reality.
We will unite people in the joy of football -- especially this summer.
I just know you can't wait to be a part of it.
We Are Football. Thank you.
OK, that ended with a barrage of clichés that hurt my brain. If it has indeed whipped the plebs into a frenzy of Craig Foster-esque parochialism, I suppose it has done its job – but I, and many others are after a bit more substance and maturity from a body that is responsible for the promotion and regulation of the sport of soccer.