The NRFL kicks off tomorrow afternoon, under Auckland skies which carry more threat than Gareth Morgan buying a cattery.
To say 2018 has gotten off to a bad start for the various federations involved in the competition would be a bit too negative, so lets just say things have been interesting. Like the Chinese curse.
First of all there’s COMET. The wonder software which would replace a wide variety of tools which had been used for player registration, fixture lists, matchday squads, referee’s reports and much, much more.
Here’s a video from Northern Football Federation’s Chief Executive about it, from last week;
“The timing of this has been outside the control of anyone in football” is a cracking line, isn’t it? It’s a delicate wallop, putting the ball somewhere west of the Manukau Heads.
The system has come online late, after a promised January launch didn’t happen (with some elements only activated this week). For some reason all players from last season were set as confirmed. Clubs attempting to sign up youngsters needed laptops and parents with smartphones and data (which certainly doesn’t happen in more economically challenging areas).
I tweeted about potential issues last week and recieved the following responses;
My club (Bay Olympic) asked team managers to implore players not to pay through MyComet because the club receives no information about who has actually paid.
— Jonathon Jones (@jonocabron) March 13, 2018
And I’m a confirmed player despite the fact I retired TWO years ago
— Ian Quintal (@NukedjIan) March 13, 2018
My club (Vic in Wellington) doesn’t even appear to be on the system. Farcical.
— Matthew Steele (@steelematt22) March 13, 2018
even better was Michael Welsh received a notification today that he is playing for Wellington United Diamonds – the women’s team!
— TheJourneyFan (@TheJourneyFan) March 13, 2018
These are a few of the issues with the system, experienced by users across New Zealand. It appears that the system remains outside of the control of anyone in football. Given that it’s not a NRFL season without a player registration issue seeing points deducted from teams, we could be in for a record-breaking rule-breaking season under COMET.
It’s also fed into the fixtures for the NRFL being released 72 hours before the season began, strewn with errors regarding where teams were playing – including Melville apparently hopping from Gower to Galloway Park.
The delays in publishing the fixtures were apparently down to ‘ground availability’ (possibly due to the grass rot ravaging Auckland’s pitches at the minute), yet corrections to the list given are ongoing.
The fixtures themselves have come out as a PDF document as the COMET fixtures system appears to be slightly more complicated than programming a BBC Micro to play FIFA 18. Compared to the previous Sportsground system, visually this is a decidedly less attractive system.
First phase is getting them accessible for punters. Making it look sexy will be a job for later.
— Lotto NRFL (@LottoNRFL) March 20, 2018
That’s off the pitch. On pitch the NRFL will be trialling a rugby style ‘sin bin’ this season, for dissent. Players will have 10 minutes in the bin at the referee’s discretion. So far the response from referees I’m acquainted with is, well, probably cause for 10 minutes in the bin.
Still, at least winter football is back!