Central Coast Mariners will not be joining the W-League for the 2018-19 season, with the FFA formally knocking back the Gosford club’s application to join Australian footballs top flight.
Having angled for an inclusion in the upcoming season to bring the league back up to 10 teams, recruiting the likes of Australian footballing royalty Julie Dolan as ambassadors, the Mariners on Thursday morning released a statement on their website indicating their push to join the W-League in 2018-19 had been unsuccessful
The Association of Professional Football Clubs of Australia (APFCA) had last months backed the Mariners in their push to re-join the W-League for the first time since the 2009-10 season when they were forced to withdraw from the competition due to financial issues.
In its response to the Mariners, the FFA indicated that its current priorities lay with the task of ensuring the live broadcast and/or streaming of all W-League games as well the introduction of a full home and away season before the topic of expansion of the league is broached.
The FFA has come under intense criticism in recent times for their being no broadcast available for many of the W-League fixtures played in the 14-round season, especially when contrasted with the AFL’s recently introduced AFLW competition which, albeit through large subsidies from the AFL, has had all games broadcast on the 7 Network and/or Fox Sports in its two-year history.
In their Thursday morning statement, the Mariners indicated that they and the APFCA disagreed with the FFAs decision, declaring that any inclusion of the Mariners into the W-League “should be considered as a separate topic that will grow the women’s game and talent pool immediately rather than an opportunity that needs to wait in line.”
Mariners Chairman Mike Charlesworth went on to say in the statement that he was “Bewildered by Football Federation Australia’s position.”
“Their (FFA’s) decision is based around a lack of talent in the country,” Charlesworth continued
“Despite the fact that we have arguably the best academy and pathway for girls in Australia with approximately 100 girls on the Central Coast working hard to become a Matilda one day.
“If FFA want to develop women’s football, they should be working with us, not restricting us, all at a time when Australia is bidding to host the Women’s World Cup in 2023.
“If FFA are deviating from their own Whole of Football Plan, then what is their plan?”
Fox Sports analyst and commentator Teo Pellizzeri, who recently called the Matildas Asian Cup campaign and is one of the leading advocates for the women’s game in Australia, put out an alternative take on Twitter, saying that the problems with women’s football wasn’t the lack of talent – but a lack of sufficiently resourced elite clubs.
“There’s enough talent for a tenth team,” Pellizzeri tweeted.
“But what there isn’t is enough good clubs/pay to entice bench players & squaddies at better run clubs to be First XI at weaker clubs
“Plus, zero guarantees coaches actually pick the best available talent.
Re: latest news in the #WLeague
There’s enough talent for a tenth team but what there isn’t is enough good clubs / pay to entice bench players & squaddies at better run clubs to be First XI at weaker clubs
Plus zero guarantees coaches actually pick the best available talent
— Teo Pellizzeri (@teopellizzeri) June 13, 2018
“Ergo if you bring in a #WLeague team with bottom-end-of-the-league resources then there’s no chance opportunity alone will entice players who can’t make the bench at stronger teams to move, given that opportunity is already abundant at existing weaker teams in the comp.”