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Welcome to the A-League circus

by Francis Leach on Jan 17, 2012

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If administrative incompetence were an Olympic sport, Australian football would surely be a medal contender.

The ongoing saga of Jason Culina’s insurance bungle is a source of embarrassment for the game.

How one of the A-League’s marquee players could find himself without the appropriate insurance to provide the resources required to cover the most obvious of possible contingencies in professional sport – player injury - is mind boggling.

The Culina situation is not the only example of administrative nincompoopery that has come at a cost for the games reputation.

It was all smiles in Melbourne last week with the arrival of former Northern Irish international Jim Magilton turning up to take the reins at Melbourne Victory.

Magilton’s exuberance and optimism has wooed the sceptics.

However, it’s going to take more than a school boy smile and a charm offensive from the new Victory boss to explain away Melbourne Victory’s hiring and firing of both its Football director and coach just months after appointing them and telling anyone who would listen that they were the best in the business.

Throw in the exhausting and exasperating pursuit of Harry Kewell, the mystery of the missing coach from Argentina, Abel Balbo, and you can’t help but feel the next Melbourne Victory board meeting should be held under a big top.

The Victory administration won’t be alone at this particular three ring circus.

Gold Coast United’s home attendances have graduated from embarrassing to insulting.

In the last home game against the Melbourne Heart just over two thousand turned out for what, in the end, was a very entertaining game of football.

Whether it’s the stadium, the scheduling of matches or the fact that the beach is a better bet on a sunny day, The administration at Gold Coast United has failed in its most fundamental mission, that is to build a football club that connects with the community it claims to represent.

And that’s the rub here.

Unless the A-League clubs deliver a dividend of involvement and inclusion with their local community, they are doomed to be empty husks, meaningless and irrelevant and eventually gone.

The Culina saga asks as many questions of the FFA as it does of the two clubs involved, Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets.

Just how it allowed a situation to develop that sees one of the games most high profile a decorated players at the centre of an unseemly exchange of claim and counter claim between the clubs, the PFA and the FFA needs examining.

Players in general should be covered for up to two years wages from the date of any injury by insurance taken out by the FFA on the players behalf as part of their collective bargaining agreement.

However, the FFA has established a dual system where the responsibility for insuring marquee players like Jason Culina is the responsibility of the club under a separate agreement the clubs sign as terms of participation.

This column is not the place to go into the details of how Culina’s case slipped through the cracks, however one thing is obvious.

By establishing a dual and parallel system, football administrators managed to create the other thing insurance of any kind is supposed to eliminate - uncertainty.

It’s an own goal of the most embarrassing kind.

The game seems to be improving in leaps and bounds on the pitch. However, it’s stuck in the relegation zone when it comes to the men in suits who sit around its board room tables.