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Mangere Centre Park

Mangere Centre Park

It’s starting to seem a bit like every other week there is an NRFL club getting docked points for player eligibility. This week it was Mangere United. They have been stripped of all the points they had earned so far this season, and they now sit at the bottom of the division one table with their work seriously cut out for them if they are to avoid relegation.

A source inside the club contacted me today, wanting to clarify events and make it clear that what happened was a genuine mistake – not a case of cheating.

The story centres around a player called James, or Jamie, Birch – who they thought they were signing from Central United but was in fact registered with Western Springs. The club went into the Goalnet database and registered the first J Birch they found associated with Central, not thinking to check that there might be more than one. Unfortunately the J Birch they registered was not the J Birch that they had turning up to training!

Before the season began, they made use of the new process that AFF have set up to check teams. This involves close scrutiny by a federation official to ensure players are all correctly registered with a view towards preventing situations such as this from arising. All players were checked, including James Birch, and the squad was thought by all parties to be kosher.

It wasn’t until a red card was awarded to Birch some games later that the mistake was picked up and the sanction imposed.

This story has some similarities with the Three Kings United controversy last year. And at that time my line on it was ‘the rules are the rules’ and ultimately if a team has played an ineligible player the responsibility lies with them to get things right – they should have been more careful. The sanction might have seemed harsh but it had to stand. And I absolutely stand by exactly the same line in this case.

Except, Three Kings are still in the Premier Division despite being relegated last year following the Tom Konusi affair. Unfortunately AFF have set a precedent now. Surely what’s good for the goose must also be good for the gander. How can they treat Mangere any differently from Three Kings? They must avoid the perception that there’s one rule for well-resourced central Auckland clubs and another rule for poorly resourced South Auckland ones at all costs.

The other thing that’s becoming clear is the player registration system is broken. I’m starting to understand why some clubs hate Goalnet so much and insist on retaining Club Hub! It would be interesting to know if this error would have occurred if Mangere were using the rival player registration system.

Whatever the case, this has happened too many times over too short a space of time and changes have to be made to simplify the system in time for next season.

The credibility of the NRFL is at stake.

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

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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.

17 replies

  1. The ClubHub vs GoalNet debate is not relevant here. Both are database systems but all transfers are undertaken in GoalNet. There is not a ClubHub transfer component within their system. Previously an interface between ClubHub and GoalNet has allowed for the automatic transfer of data from ClubHub clubs, into GoalNet. This season NZF have refused to turn the interface on. They expect clubs using ClubHub to have their members register twice, once in each system. Obviously this is not going to happen, it is difficult to get people to register once. AFF staff have had to manually input the data supplied by the clubs, which has not been done particularly well. There are a large number of mistakes. The issue with GoalNet for the clubs using ClubHub is the lack of sophistication. As an example it doesn’t even interphase with any accounting package. ClubHub links directly into Xero. For our club to switch to GoalNet, the 10,000+ transactions we undertake each year through registrations, merchandising, holiday programs etc….. Would all have to be done either manually or on a completely different system. Madness!
    The National database in GoalNet has flaws. A good example with TKU last year was the three different National ID numbers for T, Tom and Thomas Konusi. Anyone involved in grassroots registrations will understand that year on year, players won’t necessarily register identical data i.e. Mr Konusi. GoalNet automatically assigns a new number if the name isn’t identical. In ClubHub, a simple duplication report can be run which links phone numbers or email address and recognizes the same person. You then delete very quickly the duplicate. The whole purpose of online database systems is to make life easier for administration. However they are only as accurate as the humans that input the data. Obvious mistakes should be recognized for what they are, and not deliberate intent to wrought the system. Deducting a teams points for the entire season is draconian and excessive in the extreme. The players who have no control over administrative mistakes are the ones that suffer, along with the hard working largely volunteer administrators who are completely demoralized for unintentional mistakes

  2. The difference in this case will be that Mangere will have the opportunity to plead their case and present evidence. We will never know the full story of the TKU case because it never got to the appeal regarding eligibility. I hope that if this is a genuine mistake AFF take the lead and ensure the punishment fits the crime. As a note AFF have to take all points off Mangere (this is what they got wrong last year) and now let’s wait for Mangere to appeal and hear their case. Is goalnet a NZF system?

  3. Friday 3 June 2016

    Mangere United player eligibility issue

    Mangere United received an email on Thursday 2 June 2016 from the NRFL Competitions Manager that he had made a decision on the eligibility of a Mangere United player in the Lotto NRFL First Division.
    The NRFL Competitions Manager had concluded that a Player was not properly registered for Mangere United in the 2016 season since Mangere United had not received a transfer from his previous club, Western Springs. Mangere United had sought the transfer of another player with the same initial and surname as the ineligible player. The player who got transferred had the same initial and surname. This was a clerical mistake and as such should have been treated as such

    As a result of his decision the player was deemed ineligible to play in a total of 9 NRFL matches for Mangere United in the 2016 season to date.
    By virtue of the player deemed ineligible for the NRFL competitions, the matter was referred to NZ Football since the player concerned had also played in the Chatham Cup match against Ngaruawahia.
    Mangere United was to play Western Springs on Queens Birthday weekend Monday 6 June for the Chatham Cup.
    NZ Football than sought formal clarification from Mangere United regarding the NRFL Competitions Managers decision, after speaking to the Team Director.
    Mangere United provided this information late on the night of Thursday 2 June, and not by 10am Friday 3 June as allowed for by NZ Football.
    This is due to the fact that Mangere United did not want to jeopardise the Chatham Cup competitions as historically this meant a lot to all footballers in NZ.
    Furthermore as last year’s semi finalists it has always respected and valued this competition immensely.
    Today, NZ Football has advised us that it will postpone the Chatham Cup match against Western Springs while it carries out its own investigation into the matter.
    Naturally, we are disappointed, but in the best interests of football, we accept this is the best outcome.
    We apologise unreservedly to all our fans and partners, Western Springs and NZ Football, especially since we had put in a lot of promotions and preparation for the gala weekend cup fixture.

    We sincerely hope that football players, supporters and our own fans can pass this message to all and sundry that this was a “case of mistaken identity” done at a time when our resources were stretched with personnel away in Fiji helping the Cyclone Winston devastation and the start of the new season.

    The club will appeal the loss of points because of “this clerical error” and asks it’s supporters to unite behind the club. There was no malice whatsoever and there was no gain in getting the transfer of the wrong player into the club.

    Iliyas Daud

    Team Director

  4. When AFF checked player eligibility at the start of the year my understanding was that players on the clubs list were deemed to be eligible to play or would be rejected if not eligible. If Jamie was on the list Mangere submitted why is it their issue???

    1. I’m assuming the 12yo Jamie they registered was good to go but the player they actually had was someone different. Obviously hard to pick up for both parties but ultimately the responsibility lies with the club. My thing from here is that punishments are consistent and if there’s a system failure it needs to be addressed by NZF.

  5. I’m new to following this page and following NRFL so forgive me if my comments are rehashing old ground. Ultimately it has to be the responsibility of the club to ensure that all transfers have been completed correctly. Eligibility shag ups are clearly a pretty common occurrence, so if I were responsible for club transfers I personally would be seeking absolute confirmation that all transfers were ok rather than relying on AFF to contact me and then taking their silence as meaning “good to go”. BUT that said why do these NRFL eligibility issues always seem to be AFF clubs? Am I missing something? Are NFF and WaiBOP doing something differently or are their clubs simply more diligent (or lucky)??

  6. Pretty sure the T&Cs of nz football say you have to be registered using your legal name and DOB, therefore it is the clubs responsibility to check every players birth certificate/passport to make sure the player or club official is entering the correct details. Otherwise players could register multiple times to get around transfer rules or suspensions.

  7. Hello there.

    After reading these comments – particularly the one from Andy wondering about NFF and WaiBop clubs – thought I would recount one of my club’s experiences from a few years back. Hope you enjoy.

    We had an incident – at a time when Goalnet was a little bit newer – where my club discovered (via incoming mail) a few weeks down the track that we had been summarily fined $150 for playing an ineligible player on the opening day of the season in a Waikato Men’s C Division match.

    Now, while we rightfully get excited about exactitudes at northern league level, deep in the bowels of recreational football with a team of fat bastards – well, you really do wonder “wtf?”

    Justin, the player in question, had transferred from another Hamilton club. There was no issue, his old club told us he was good to go, and they advised would sort the transfer. But the bloke doing it got sidetracked, and rather than do so on the Friday, did so on the Sunday (AFTER the match).

    Then some jobsworth at the federation picked up on this and duly pinged us with the $150 fine.

    Well, we took exception. But the federation said “rules were rules” and that was the end of the story.

    My club committee – which has a few stroppy characters – decided that WOULDN’T be the end of the matter. One of our hard working volunteer administrators had effectively been punished to the tune of $150 for trying to sort out a pub football-level transfer, at a time of year when admin duties are under the kosh, and common sense surely suggested it should be treated with a bit more leniency.

    Dock the points by all means, but don’t punish a volunteer with a monetary fine. Unless you were gasping for the code to lose these very volunteers, of course.

    No go. The federation advised they must uphold the code’s punitive culture.

    So our committee decided there was only one thing to do.

    We would, in turn, FINE the federation for showing such a lack of leadership and sound judgement.

    The imposed “fine” would take the practical form of the withdrawal of our co-operation in all football matters for the period of three weeks ($50 a week).

    We would fight stupidity with stupidity.

    At some levels this withdrawal of co-operation – in communications, attendance at meetings – was only of academic significance.

    But at other levels – removal of club personnel from involvement all federation programmes, cancellation of floodlight hireage agreements, and a threat to publicise it through the local paper – it had enough of an impact that the federation chair quickly requested a face to face meeting.

    Clearly such a meeting was not possible under the terms of the imposed “fine”. But seeing as she was buying the coffee, a 2-hour dispensation was granted (which at least showed we were more adaptable than them).

    The ultimate message to us at this meeting was it was very very unfortunate that nothing could be done about the fine.

    And that was also our message back. We absolutely hated to do it – but we really did want to get our $150 worth. (They could always have paid the fine themselves.)

    When they stopped beating us up with administrative madness at Waikato C Division level, we would stop our retaliatory madness.

    Long story short. We never did get the fine rescinded.

    But we sure made our point.

    Hope this gives others some inspiration about not taking shit lying down.

    NB. WaiBop federation sucked $25,000 out of clubs in fines last financial year and I imagine it would be well over $100,000 in Auckland. We really do have to stop beating ourselves up financially on this front. I may do some separate blogstering on this one of these days.

  8. Before I start, I need to declare I have no connection to the NRFL, and in fact only follow football lossely. But the thing which interests me most out of this whole situation, is the lack of an official or unofficial comment from AFF/NZF about this? Have they not been asked for comment? Or given a chance to defend themselves?

    It seems that everyone is very happy to write masterpieces and preach to the masses about how terribly incompetent AFF/NZF are – however we never see any retort from either of those two, neither do we hear of anything positive that these two do… Perhaps I am too withdrawn from the footballing world these days, but surely these two organisations do something right? Surely they contribute positively to the football landscape in NZ?

    To myself, an outsider, there seems there a few people/clubs/groups focusing only on the negative aspects of football governance with the motive of being deadset on making AFF/NZF’s name mud.

  9. I am not responsible for AFF or NZF’s PR. They are public organisations that should be open to critique and they have their own avenues for tellng their side of the story if they believe that is in their interests. I probably should have asked for comment from AFF for this piece but frankly I didn’t because the last time I asked for comment for a piece they ignored me completely. I have no motivation for making NZF or AFF’s names mud. I published this post because someone at Mangere asked me to clarify for them that they didn’t set out to cheat. As a general rule if people want football issues they are involved in clarified from their perspective I’m usually happy to facilitate it within reason. In that spirit I am happy to run a rebuttal on this topic by any interested party as a guest post any time they want to send me one.

    1. Enzo, I appreciate the work you do, and the lengths you go to in order to give a wide variety of football topics/games/issues to read about and discuss.
      I am sorry you feel that my prior comment was directed at yourself. Was not the intention at all!
      Was more directed at the general footballing public (And in response to a couple of other comments on this particular blog)

      1. Sorry for getting the wrong end of the stick. Probably worth stating the above anyway though as I know it must be frustrating for staff at those organisations constantly fielding crap. I think it’s frustrating for everyone that this stuff keeps cropping up.

  10. Hello Interested Observer,

    Just a suggestion… if your comment is in response to other comments rather than the substantive post, why not assist everyone’s comprehension of your perspective by referencing the exact bits you are taking issue with.

    That is probably the best course to assist informed debate, particularly for someone who only follows football “lossely”. (That’s how I’ve been following football recently as well, unfortunately.) 🙂

    The bottom line is conflict is a very valid news/discussion angle for fans. It may appear negative to you, but these are the things that matter to fans. Unfortunately someone doing their job as expected is not quite so newsworthy or prompting of debate.

    Hope this helps.

  11. It’s an extremely poor piece of admin from Mangere. I don’t think they really can blame anyone else and to be honest I do think the punishment is correct.

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