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Franchised Out


Andy Martin chats with the players.

I was interested to hear NZ Football’s Andy Martin’s speak as a guest of Eastern Suburbs on Sunday.

We had to put together an open and transparent process so we could do the things we wanted to. Sustainability is one of the most important aspects of this competition. The standards and development element is very important and Eastern Suburbs ticks all the boxes very well. Now we want to see that out there on the field of play. Once again, congratulations.

A big, big well done, I just think this is amazing what you’ve done. We were so delighted you put your hand up last year. You blew everybody else away, the work Chris did and the team and this is what we need around the country, more and more of these community clubs that are really connected between what we call the winter league and the summer league. I’m looking forward to seeing the first home game today because what we need from this league is more of this, to see the full football community connected.

What we’ve had in the past is a sort of Premier League that has been out on a limb. What we need to see is all the kids coming through the Whole of Football plan, all the volunteers, all the referees, the coaches and the pinnacle teams all connected so they can aspire to play but also to get community rivalry, tribalism and banter going.

We want to see people start to tease each other about the game at the weekend. We see what football does around the world because we (in this room, in the game) know, but a lot of people in New Zealand don’t know. Thats why you can help us and we can help you to make it the competition it deserves to be. This year its started brilliantly well – you’ve had meetings with people from other clubs this summer getting ready, you’ve shocked them into action. If you look what you’ve been doing with your social media, you’ve set the standard that some of the other clubs have to play catch up to.

The others have had to step up to and catch up with it so just keep up the great work. You’re helping us do what you want which is to see more All Whites coming up through this league. You’re making it an aspirational league for the kids. We want to see your junior players want to play in this competition and who knows where we go from here.

Putting aside the backslapping, and there’s a lot of it in there – this is the second time in as many weeks that Martin has mentioned rivalry, tribalism and banter – he also highlighted it as part of the launch of the Stirling Sports Premiership last month – directly referencing Birkenhead United’s support in the Chatham Cup final then. I’ll go into the question of support and supporters in a separate post. Let’s move on.

What’s interesting is Martin’s description of the Premier League as ‘out on a limb’ and his obvious desire to see clubs represented in both Summer and Winter competitions. I say interesting because the original franchise clubs as individual summer entities were designed that way by New Zealand Football as a way of creating stable pinnacle clubs for the National League.

From his remarks, it’s clear that’s no longer the case. Which raises some interesting questions about the future of the franchises. Rob Sherman’s competition review states that clubs participating in the National League will be required, possibly by the start of the 2018/19 season to have an established youth, womens and futsal setup alongside their senior mens teams.

For a lot of franchises that’s a problem – because the initial setup of the league did not in any way require them to do this. Most franchises have their winter equivalent clubs, but should Martin’s enthusiastic backing of Suburbs imply NZF’s thinking – some franchises may find themselves in a position of deciding between their summer and winter identities to fulfil the associations desires.

That’s a tough question – would Team Wellington be happy to dissolve and revert to Miramar? How about Central United and Auckland City? Or Southern, where the federation is running the show. The current National League licenses expire in 2018 and it will be interesting to see if some of the current franchises will qualify for whatever standards NZF set for them – and what happens to those who don’t.


Categories: NZ Men's National League

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John Palethorpe

1 reply

  1. The whole structure is now incredibly confusing .
    To me it’s either a franchise competition or club competition , not a mixture.
    A lot of the franchises have invested heaps of time and money in their structures , perhaps at the expense of their “parent” clubs. If it reverts to a club competition then some of these parent clubs could be at a distinct disadvantage.
    The chopping and changing of the structure of our elite league has always been a concern – just read Bruce Holloway’s potted history of the league. I feel somewhat sorry for the North Shores and Mount Wellingtons who took NZ Football at face value a few years back and decided that there was no way into the league for them and lowered their sights or changed priorities.
    I do remember saying to people at the outset of the franchise league that at some stage it would revert back to club based purely because football is about passion and I don’t really think that the franchises generate that ( with some apologies to Auckland City )
    The Elephant in the room is now the Chatham Cup – I thought that Martin wanted them in but now I’m not so sure?

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