The Football Federation of Victoria has revealed its plans for the proposed new V-League which is due to replace the existing Premier League in February 2008. Tough new criteria will have to be met by clubs seeking to join the new league with expressions of interest required in June 2007 and final applications in August. Regional teams may submit an application. This does not leave much time for any bid from the Geelong area to be submitted.
The aim is to provide high quality football and be the best football competition apart from the national A-League. The status of the existing Premier league is reflected in the fact that the Australian Institute of Sport will participate in 2007.
The V-league will have not more than 12 teams and will require enhanced ground criteria, greater professionalism by clubs, better links with the local community, and greater emphasis on media and marketing. Every club will be required to have a senior team, under-21, under-18, a senior womenâ€™s team, four junior teams from under-11 to under-16 and two rooball teams for under-8 to under-10. A salary cap of $200,000 will be enforced to reduce the tendency of clubs to overspend in relation to their revenue. The entry fee for the league which will include referees fees and a promotional component will be $25,000 in 2008. A minimum of 500 seats under cover is mandatory with 1,000 preferred in what should be a spectator-friendly environment.
Promotion and relegation will apply after the first year, though all clubs admitted will have security of tenure for one year. Clubs will be required to have a professional administration with a full time General Manager or Chief Executive Officer. Coaching, finance and media relations will also require professional treatment by aspiring clubs.
Part of the inspiration behind the new league is a desire to prevent the kind of incidents involving club supporters, two of which tarnished the image of the code in 2005. So the emphasis will be on family enjoyment and safety, with quality venues and modern spectator facilities. But it is also driven by the need to participate in the current boom in football in this country, which shows that there is active support for high quality local competitions. The league will help showcase the best of local talent and fill an identified gap in the provision of a career path for players seeking to reach national league standards. One key element which is not clearly addressed in the business plan and the criteria is a single, common registration for professional players which will enable them to move between national and state competitions without administrative complications.
The plan represents a serious attempt by the FFV to bring the local game into line with the changes which have taken place at national level. Though it will cause great angst among existing clubs, most of which will have to improve their facilities drastically to succeed with an application, it is the way forward for football in Victoria.