Where's the incentive? - NPL fraternity questions Abrams' criticism

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Second-tier clubs have claimed the structure below the A-League doesn't reward them if they spend the money required to raise standards


EXCLUSIVE

Football Federation Australia's (FFA) technical director Eric Abrams has touched a nerve by comparing the National Premier Leagues (NPL) to Belgium's fourth division.

In an interview with FourFourTwo's Australian website, Abrams called for NPL outfits to raise their standards and rubbished suggestions Australia should form a professional national second division under the A-League, claiming the next tier of clubs aren't ready.

Eric Abrams Belgium Under 16 14102009

Eric Abrams

Abrams, who coached Belgium's Under 15 and Under 17 sides from 2002-13 and helped develop the likes of Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard and Kevin DeBruyne, also questioned how NPL clubs such as South Melbourne and Wollongong Wolves could justify pushing for A-League expansion.

South Melbourne's A-League advisory board chairman Bill Papastergiadis claimed Abrams' statements are inappropriate and fail to appreciate the context NPL clubs find themselves in.

"A second division would not reflect the current NPL teams nor the current structure," Papastergiadis told Goal

"It would involve a different funding model and a different league with television and sponsorship deals."

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Papastergiadis described the NPL structure as a "dead end league" because there is no way for aspiring clubs to earn promotion.

"It's like buying a car and told you can only drive it in a car park," he said. 

"The lack of promotion and relegation has destroyed the fabric of our football culture. There is no incentive for investment and development."

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Manly United coach Paul Dee reckons Abrams' heart is in the right place but argued "he probably hasn't articulated that in the best possible way".

Manly United v Sydney Olympic FFA Cup 29072014

Manly United vs Sydney Olympic - 2014 FFA Cup

"I think he [Abrams] only wants the best for Australian football and he really wants to challenge us to improve," Dee told Goal.

"The one exception that I have is I don't think you'll find anyone that objects to wanting to improve… I think they're all just really desperate for him and the federation to work together to create an environment where the clubs can deliver on that."

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Dee added that effectively asking NPL clubs to become professional by questioning the number of times their senior team trains compared to the A-League was unreasonable.

"It's an unfair comparison because [in the A-League] you've got full-time coaches, staff, players and the system enables them to improve, whereas state league teams are semi-professional and they're not going to be able to run full-time operations with the investment that they have now," he said.

 

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