NPL clubs' association growing rapidly

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The initial steering committee tasked with formally establishing a representative body for lower league clubs has been swamped with interest

The representative body for National Premier Leagues (NPL) clubs hopes it can be included in Football Federation Australia's (FFA) restructure but won't be overly concerned about missing next week's meeting.

A spokesperson for the proposed group, which is set to be officially established on March 20, has told Goal that 30 per cent of the country's 125 NPL clubs have already committed to joining since an exploratory meeting on Monday.

Those clubs are from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

FFA released a statement on Wednesday revealing it will meet with state federations, A-League clubs and the players' union - Professional Footballers Australia - on March 14 to further discuss "the make-up of an expanded Congress".

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The congress, which decides who is elected to FFA's board and currently includes just 10 voting members - the nine state federations and one representing all A-League clubs, is set to expand due to pressure from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation.

On Monday, NPL Victoria clubs agreed to form an initial committee to steer the establishment of a national body to represent the interests of football below the A-League.

While NPL clubs want more of a say in the way football is run in Australia, spokesperson Tom Kalas argued they are not simply targeting votes in FFA's congress.

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Kalas told Goal that he and other instigators of this week's initial meeting were inspired by FFA's statement last week that A-League expansion "under the current [ownership] model would result in [unsustainable] net losses over the next six years" after previously claiming it was a "strategic priority".

"That's alarmed us enough to get organised now," Kalas said.

"Whether we have enough time to get a seat at the table to help them [FFA], I don't know.

"Our view is they [FFA] need help to understand the fabric of football is very, very, very broken.

"We want to be a consultative, professional and measured voice to help in restructuring."

A-League clubs demand more power

Kalas said the NPL clubs understand FFA is very busy trying to reform its governance structure and the A-League's model of ownership and operation.

FFA CEO David Gallop has been informed of the NPL clubs' intention to form a representative body.

David Gallop FFA 01122015

"It's not rocket science that we need to refocus and restructure football in Australia," Kalas said.

"Not just votes for the FFA board, which has been mandated by FIFA. It's more dire than that."

The formation of a national association of lower league clubs with membership in the hundreds will be a significant moment in Australian football, which has a history of mistrust between the states both at and below federation level.

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While the meeting to officially form the NPL clubs' representative body will be held at Football Federation Victoria's headquarters in Melbourne, Kalas is passionate about ensuring the new group truly represents the entire country.

"Every president I've spoken to in the last three or four days - they don't [care] about who's driving it," he said.

"We've got to do it quickly and we've got to do it professionally. That's all I've been hearing about it.

"I do not want this to be a Victoria-driven process. I'm prepared to take it all the way to that first meeting and step aside and we can bring in representations from all the various states to be on the board.

"We'll pick a spokesman - someone new - I have no issue in stepping aside because this is more important than petty state politics."

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Kalas is a former board member of NPL Victoria club South Melbourne.

He resigned from South Melbourne's board last year after they secured a 40-year lease at Lakeside Stadium as that had been one of his long-term goals for the club.

Note: This article has been changed to correct an error regarding the number of clubs in the second sentence.

 

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