W-League worries way off the mark

by Sebastian Hassett on Mar 25, 2012

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The W-League won’t fall over, don’t worry about that. But that it’s even being talked about is a disgrace.

Few things the FFA have sunk their time and money into recently have worked, with the exception of this competition. It’s been a real winner.

The funny thing is, it’s probably the most cost effective competition that the clubs and governing body are involved with because of the minuscule salary cap of $150,000 and the fact that the grounds they play on involve little to not rental costs.

So to see Tony Sage and Nathan Tinkler threaten to pull Perth and Newcastle’s teams out of the W-League this week was incredibly disheartening
Their view was simple - that they are so stretched by the demands of the A-League, where the salary cap is 15 times higher, that they have to cut back everywhere else. Sage even threatened to cull the club’s National Youth League team as well.

Let’s cut to the chase here instead of debating an issue that doesn’t exist. There is no problem with the W-League or the costs involved.

This is, purely and simply, the owners’ way of firing another shot at the FFA and letting them know how unhappy they are with the current state of play. You can only imagine this war getting worse as the months go on.

However, while I have enormous sympathy with the owners, and have been on their side calling for change for a while now, I genuinely wonder why they have dragged the girls into this.

In fact, I’m incredibly disappointed. It’s a low act and completely unnecessary. Some of these girls earn barely a few thousand dollars for playing at W-League level while some others have become so committed to their clubs that they put full-time hours into their careers while earning part-time wages.

My message to the club owners is this: we get your message. Loud and clear. You want to be driving this thing and you want to do it on your own terms. We - the football community - are listening. We want the FFA to come to the party.

However, there will come a time where all the shots fired from the owners end up doing the game more harm than good. They all talk about how much money they’ve lost. I never argue that they’ve done wonderful things in giving so generously to football but that doesn’t give them the right to bend the game over if the wind isn’t blowing their way.

This is where the FFA has to stand up and be counted. They need to get in and nip this issue in the bud once and for all. They need to consult with the owners in such a way that these problems stop coming up. It is possible, but so wary are they of any conflict with these billionaires and millionaires that they seem to prefer the path of least resistance.

To those who say they acted smartly on Clive Palmer, I say they acted too late. Look how much damage Palmer has done. It’s been a catastrophe.

Now the FFA must show genuine, real leadership. The kind of leadership we hoped would be seen from Frank Lowy and Ben Buckley but has been missing for years now.

The game is better than this charade. The owners are starting to look like actors in a spaghetti western, preparing to draw their guns at 10 paces, and the game is punchline in the middle.

It should never have gotten to this point. It should never have seen the W-League used as a pawn. The FFA must get this mess sorted immediately.