Football Victoria has revealed further fee relief and refunds for clubs throughout the state as it plots football's return from its COVID-19 enforced hibernation.
In a Thursday afternoon release, Victorian football’s governing body touted a tailored fee relief and refund proposals sent out to date that totals in the order of approximately $1m in reductions – including over $600,000 for community competitions.
“Relief packages across all tiers of football have been funded by the foregoing of registration and participation fees that would have otherwise been due payable to FV for participation in 2020 competitions,” FV said.
“In determining the portfolio of these packages, FV has sought feedback from football stakeholders, including players, parents, clubs and associations.
“The packages are aimed at supporting the safe return to football at all levels and ensuring the viability of our 355 clubs and the game in Victoria more broadly.”
As previously reported by FTBL, FV – citing concerns clubs hold around the loss of live match revenue and acknowledging that the competition was the only senior competition to have commenced at the time of grassroots football’s shutdown – wrote to NPL1 club presidents on Monday to inform them of the establishment of a $160,000 rebate pool to be equally distributed to NPL1 clubs via monthly payments on the final day of the preceding month.
Should restrictions ease to the extent that over 300 people (inclusive of players and officials) are able to attend fixtures, however, the rebate program will cease – although a mid-month easing of restrictions would not result in FV seeking to recoup that months payment from clubs.
Clubs with existing debts to FV would not be able to access the scheme under the proposal, and the federation made a note in their Thursday statement that “all NPL clubs received the initial proposal based on self-funding from within NPL revenues, without cross-subsidisation from other levels of football.”
The fee-relief / refund offer to NPL clubs is self-funding from within NPL revenues and there is no cross-subsidisation in this offer from any other level of football.— Peter Filopoulos (@peterfilopoulos) June 2, 2020
NPL1 clubs that consider it to not be financially viable or otherwise feasible to compete in 2020 have been informed by FV their clubs can maintain their place in the Victorian footballing pyramid contingent upon their payment of the NPL1 senior men’s competition licence fee of $25,000.
FTBL understands that several of the 11 NPL1 clubs named as being reluctant to the field in 2020 - South Melbourne, Green Gully and Hume City remain the only three to publically declare a willingness to play - have since begun to discuss a return to the field, albeit with vastly reduced or non-existent wage bills for its playing groups.
ANNOUNCEMENT // 📣— Avondale FC (@AvondaleFC84) June 2, 2020
With restrictions easing, our senior squad are going back to training this week. It's been a long time between oranges but we are all excited to move forward with the game we love. 😍#ForzaAvondale #AscendAndAvenge #BackOfTheNet #backontrack #putthebootson pic.twitter.com/CVTAq0Lq2g
It was not made clear in Thursday’s statement, though, what relief NPLW, NPL2 and NPL3 clubs will be receiving from FV as part of their fee relief and refund proposals, although NPL and NPLW referees have agreed to a 25% discount on their senior matchday payments until crowds of 300 or over are allowed to return.
It is likely that the NPLW competition in 2020 will be reduced to a 14 game season, with the eight clubs playing each other in a home and away format before finals.
Further down the pyramid, Thursday’s statement revealed that senior state league sides will receive a 20% reduction on team entry and registration fees under the new proposals, while senior women’s sides at the community level will see a 100% reduction in team entry fees and 50% registration fee reductions.
FV then outlined that its position on junior and other community competitions such as All Abilities, Men’s Metropolitan and Masters competitions was still under review; indicated that they currently expected these competitions to “substantially complete a full season”, but that a fee-relief offer would be forthcoming should those circumstances change.
Contingent upon approval being granted from State Government and Health authorities – which FV has formally requested – Victoria’s men’s and women’s top-flight are targeting a return on July 10. Junior NPL competitions are pencilled in for a June 27 return, whilst community juniors will resume a day later under the federation’s plans. Community seniors are targeted for a July 11 return.
"We understand that this has been a very challenging time for our community and would like to recognise the extraordinary efforts of our club officials and volunteers," FV President Kimon Taliadoros said.
"We hope that these proposals assist clubs in getting back to playing our game.”
Regardless of what happens with their senior equivalents, NPL1 club’s U20 and U18 are set to undertake a full season in 2020, with the clubs in unanimous agreement with the federation that these competitions will resume.
With a number of the players involved set to sit VCE examinations in November, a number of mid-week fixtures are set to be staged to ensure that the season can be finished by October.
Elsewhere, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Monday that New South Wales’ senior men’s NPL1 competition was set to be scrapped for 2020 due to the financial hardships experienced by clubs due to COVID-19; clubs instead negotiating the staging of an 11 game Cup competition with Football NSW.
The report indicated the NSW federation was involved in talks with their State Government to resume to competitive football by mid-July in order to salvage as much of a season as possible for the 350,000 approximate participants in the state.
Sydney United Head Coach Zeljko Kalac, in his first year at the helm of Croatia, has since told The Daily Telegraph of his belief that any moves to not stage a senior season would be "suicidal" and "catastrophic" for young players development.