Over the last fortnight our Football Councils and staff have engaged with clubs through various mechanisms such as club meetings, surveys and numerous conversations. Understandably, there were mixed views across our 60 clubs on resumption of training and competitions in the event lockdown restrictions are lifted.
The majority of clubs supported the need to play as many games as possible however there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account including:
- player welfare (both from a mental health and injury perspective),
- volunteer and player availability,
- impacts of key dates such as school holidays,
- ground availability
- FNSW requirements and of course,
- community safety in terms of the NSW Government Public Health Order (PHO).
Having said this we acknowledge that recent Covid case numbers across the State and minimal information on restrictions that may be eased for ‘low risk’ areas will make community sport resumption very challenging. Despite the uncertainty in relation to a number of areas, we have collated feedback from all stakeholders to outline the direction of the 2021 season based on recommendations from each Football Council:
- Juniors – The majority of clubs supported 3 weekends to play competition games (4/5, 11/12 and 18/19 September – this includes mini-roos). Due to potential disruptions in relation to the September School Holidays any extension beyond this would be difficult. If competition games cannot commence on 4 September the ‘competition’ will be abandoned, however scheduled matches will be played as friendlies on the 11/12 and the 18/19 September. After this, clubs able to will be able to conduct friendly games and FSC will work with clubs to facilitate this process.
- Womens and Community League (including WYL) – In the event that training cannot commence on the 11 September, with game resumption one week after this, the season will be abandoned and friendly games can be facilitated after this.
It should be noted Junior, Womens and Community League teams are significantly impacted by ground availability due to sharing fields with cricket, therefore facilitating games (whether competition or friendlies) beyond the 2/3 October is restricted.
- Men’s Premiership – If training cannot resume by the 28 August (for 2 weeks) to facilitate resumption of games by 11 September, the season will be cancelled however games will be scheduled for clubs interested.
A summary with competition start and end dates based on these various competitions and scenarios is available here – Summary of Calendar – Final Resumption Scenarios – FINAL
- Junior, Womens and Community League – If no further games are able to be played – there will be no declaration of League Champions. However if additional rounds are played, League Champions may be declared based after all available rounds have been played.
- Men’s Premiership – unless a full 22 rounds are able to be played, there will be no League Champions declared.
Promotion and Relegation (Men’s Premiership)
There will be no promotion and relegation in 2021. It is anticipated that even in the event the Men’s Premiership 22 rounds are able to be facilitated, there will be significant impacts to player availability and the view of the Board, Football Council and many clubs was that it would be unfair to relegate clubs due to impacts of circumstances beyond their control.
Fee Breakdown Information and Considerations
In the event that the season is abandoned (ie no rounds or friendly games can be played), there will inevitably be questions around fees.
Player Registration Fees comprise of fees charged by a number of organisations:
- Football Australia,
- Football NSW,
- Football South Coast and,
- the local Club component.
These together make up the total player registration fee. For example, an Under 13 player within the Junior competition will pay fees as follows:
- $14 to Football Australia (FA) via a National Registration Fee (NRF);
- $23 to Football NSW (FNSW),
- $35 to FSC and
- $80 to the Club
- In this case the total registration fee for the player is $152
For many junior players, the Active Kids Voucher subsidises $100 of this fee. Refunds cannot be obtained on the $100 Active Kids Voucher.
FA, FNSW, FSC and Clubs will each have their own policies in relation to potential refunds and credits. Clubs are encouraged to have a position on their individual club component for communication with their players. We will continue to liaise with FNSW and FA on their fee component.
In relation to FSC Fees specifically we note the following:
- FSC fees are one of the lowest in the state and are heavily discounted as player fees are subsidised by the many other programs run by FSC (ie School Holiday Clinics, Summer Football, 5 A Side, etc). These programs have been impacted by lockdown and have therefore impacted on the ability to provide any reduction in fees.
- Expenses will continue to apply regardless of the number of competition rounds, this includes rent, electricity, insurance and other overheads. In terms of wages and salaries, a number of staff have continued to work through this period to prepare for summer football and the potential winter competition resumption. Other staff have had reduced hours or taken annual leave during this period.
- Many other associations include referee fees and ground hire in their fees – this is not the case for FSC. This is paid for by Member Clubs. There are associations who have cancelled their seasons and therefore will not incur ground hire fees and referee fees which may be credited to players next season.
In the event that any funds are refunded, as was the case in 2020 (for the amount of approximately $120,000) as a result of fee reductions from governing bodies (such as FA, FNSW or FSC), this will be paid to clubs who must determine whether fees are refunded, credited or used to offset their own expenses.
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