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The team to beat

Waitakere City 2, Three Kings United 1
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, February 21 2016

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Now here we have a pre-season friendly with one or two little sub-plots!

These were supposed to be the two sides that were relegated from the NRFL premier division at the end of last season, but instead only one of them will play division 1 football in 2016 while the other, for reasons passing understanding, makes up a thirteen team top flight.

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Piecing together what happened here is a little bit difficult as details in the public domain are somewhat vague, but it appears that some sort of administrative error was made on the transfer of a player, Tom Konusi, which made him ineligible to play for Three Kings United in their first nine games of NRFL season 2015.

Where things get really controversial is whether or not the punishment fits the crime.

Is it sufficient to impose a three point deduction for the game in which the error was picked up and protested? Or once you know that the player was ineligible for nine games, should the results of all those games be amended to 3-0 losses for Three Kings?

The difference for the Three Kings club, their players and fans, is between mid-table comfort and relegation from the NRFL premier division. Should a club be relegated for a clerical error?

I can see both sides of the argument but from a fairness and consistency point of view, in my mind the answer has to be yes. Either the player was ineligible to play in those games or he wasn’t.

But the real crime here, I think most would agree, is in how long it has taken to sort this mess out! From nine games into season 2015 until pre-season 2016, we have only just obtained some certainty on the make-up of the leagues in the last week or two after a comedy of errors. First Three Kings lost one lot of three points, then they lost the rest, then they had them all given back to them, then they were stripped again, and now they are being reinstated to the premier division regardless. You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

How does this happen when surely the whole thing should have only taken two weeks at the most to make a decision one way or the other, grow a pair, and stick with it? I’d love to hear a proper explanation.

In the absence of that, what we’ve instead heard is an implicit message that if you break the rules you can just keep on appealing until everyone gets sick of the whole thing and lets you off the hook. Or, as some have questioned, perhaps there’s one set of rules for some and a different one for others? Would the powers that be have ultimately been so lenient if it was a less influential or well-heeled club in the spotlight?

In contradiction to that, part of Three Kings’ argument appears to have been that some clubs have gotten away with similar errors in the past due to no complaints being lodged. But that doesn’t wash with me. Whether or not this rule has been applied properly in the past or not, it should have been dealt with then and it should be now.

The real loser in all this will be the poor old club that finishes third from bottom in this season’s NRFL premier division, assuming Three Kings finishes above them! We have no idea who that club will be yet, but whoever they are might want to consider lodging a few appeals to see if we can’t end up with a thirteen team league for all eternity!

One strongly suspects that, for this season at least, Three Kings is going to be the team in the league that everyone wants to beat more than any other…

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1 NZ Northern Men's Premier

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

1 reply

  1. Absolutely appalled at not only this decision, but the myriads of other football decisions I have observed recently both at a national and federation level. We are glad we have your blog where we can vent our frustrations but that’s about all one will get !!

    Other than the annual AGM’s, there is no other chance for clubs to collectively have their say. We still don’t have the details on the formation of the Orakei club from the last AGM? I can’t find any details anyway. Phoenix just lost a player due to another clerical error. The Olympians are not going to Rio and I hear rumours there are some others in the pipeline being challenged. I am hoping it’s not true.

    And as for this registration issue, would it have been an issue if a smarter registration process and system was in place? How good is the registration system and how much is paid for this system on an annual basis? is it working as expected? What is the clubs view of the registration and transfer processes? When did anyone last consult a club administrator to get their input based on their practical experiences? There are some real good administrators out there I know who will be more than happy to be engaged to fix this. And what is being done to avoid such mistakes from happening the next time? Where are the details we all wish to see??

    Also explain to me please, that when clubs are fined and points are deducted for failing to send team cards, for arriving late at games, for playing ineligible players – yes – you are either a player or you not !!! So what is different in this issue? A club may get away with it, deem yourself lucky, otherwise suffer the consequences. It is that simple. Ask the vast number of clubs that have lost points and suffered the consequences. I am sure there are many stories out there, we have many of our own as we have been on the receiving end of a few because the rules differed to our interpretation.

    What’s difference about this one than? Is it because it’s Waitakere and Three Kings, regarded as “big” clubs by many, so they have to be given another chance? Would the decision have been the same if it were some other lesser known clubs? Now the administrators will stuff up the entire NRFL competition for 2016 to accommodate this mess in my opinion !!!

    Where is football heading in this country? Is there anything as Fair Play anymore and if it is than what does it mean to some of the decision makers of football in NZ? keen to get your views?

    A very disgruntled footballer and yes a former AFF Board Member too.

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