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An iron constitution?


This piece was co-authored by John Palethorpe and Enzo Giordani

On Monday, member clubs of the Auckland Football Federation (AFF) received an email concerning the postponement of the federation’s AGM, originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 18th. No future date has been given, although all member clubs were assured that “A new date and timeline for the AGM will be advised in the very near future and held under the Rules and Regulations attached.”

All clear? Well, no. Because the Rules & Regulations attached were within an entirely new constitution for the AFF, signed on April 6th 2016. And in those Rules and Regulations was a significant change for all member clubs who are part of the AFF.

Under the previous rules, every club received votes based on the number of registered teams. Here’s the relevant section from the previous AFF constitution.


Under new rule 23.17.3 this was no longer the case. Instead, clubs would now be allocated votes based upon the following criteria.


This is a big and important change for the AFF clubs, and one that may have passed them by due to the innocuous nature of the postponement email.

Some AFF clubs with large numbers of players don’t actually use Goalnet – which is the NZF preferred player registration database – instead preferring to use a system called ‘Clubhub’.  Goalnet is, conveniently, also the registration database explicitly specified within the new AFF Constitution.

For smaller clubs the status quo remains under the new rules – as they have fewer registered players, their votes are worth less than those of larger clubs who are able to wield votes en bloc. This is slightly different to the FIFA rules, where each membership organisation has a single vote, but the balance of power doesn’t change significantly here as far as we can tell.

Upon examining the constitutions of other Federations there is a mix of those which state that a club receives its votes based upon registered teams and those which insist players must be registered through Goalnet. The difference between them is of age.

It would appear that NZF has directed federations to uniformly update their constitutions, hence why the ‘Goalnet’ constitutions are carbon copies of each other – save the cover sheet and the signed declaration at the back.

It makes sense – NZF want all clubs to use Goalnet as it allows them to get a firm handle on player numbers and market them to potential sponsors. This is quite a clever little mechanism to achieve that aim.

Except this has come top down, with little or no explanation, forcing clubs to start peering into the fine print to attempt to draw their own conclusions. The email, sent out on Monday, made no note of the changes to the method by which clubs are assigned votes in the new constitution. Given the volunteer roles filled by administrators in clubs, unless you’ve been told there’s a change you might not look through a forty page document for a few changed paragraphs.

The result of all this appears to be grand theories by some of power grabbing by anyone and everyone from NZF’s Andy Martin to clubs with large player numbers like Eastern Suburbs and Three Kings. Other club officials have expressed frustration at yet another poorly handled situation by NZF and AFF – the absolute last thing those organisations need right now following other recent debacles.

There are questions that need to be asked by AFF clubs regarding the changes. These could focus upon the level of cooperation between the NZF and the AFF, and the apparent lack of consultation of federation member clubs, prior to the introduction of the new voting rules and regulations.

We would be interested to hear what they have to say on the matter.  

Meanwhile, we are happy to be of service to the governing bodies by explaining this change to AFF’s member federation’s voting rights, as best as we can do following a day’s worth of research. Invoice is in the mail guys.

ITBOTN contacted the AFF for comment but they had not responded by the time this piece was published.

Here are the AFF constitutions in question, the old followed by the new, for you to compare yourself:


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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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