The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) has confirmed that it will not expand the W-League in the 2018-19 season to include a Central Coast Mariners’ women’s side, and has implied that the Mariners may not be considered in future seasons.
In a written response to questions from Coast Community News, the FFA said: “Expansion did not occur for the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season due to the urgent need to invest in player payments, and high performance initiatives for Westfield W-League players. “This was primarily delivered through the inaugural Westfield W-League Collective Bargaining Agreement, agreed between the Clubs, FFA and the PFA, in September, 2017. “Upon achieving an increased investment in Westfield W-League player payments, the agreed next immediate areas for investment and focus for the Westfield W-League are broadcast/live streaming of all Westfield W-League matches and delivering a full home and away season for the Westfield W-League.
“This order of prioritisation is based on direct feedback received from a range of stakeholders (fans, Clubs, PFA and female football stakeholders) in structured forums. “All stakeholders have provided feedback that the above initiatives need to be delivered before expansion of the Westfield W-League is considered.” Coast Community News asked the FFA whether or not it considered the Central Coast deserving of a presence in the W-League given that the region’s rapidly growing population supports an A-League franchise, and has a growing base of girls and boys participating in the sport.
The FFA’s response was not reassuring of its attitude towards the Central Coast as a football region. “FFA is genuinely committed to gender equity in its operations,” the statement said. “Therefore, it is entirely appropriate that any Westfield W-League expansion process involves the same level of care, strategic assessment and attention to detail which the Hyundai A-League process involves. “Fans and stakeholders would expect that consideration for admission to the Westfield W-League involves a range of criteria, and admission criteria would require more than holding a Hyundai A-League licence, or having a venue which can host double-header matches.
“FFA will develop its Westfield W-League expansion strategy for the medium to longer term, in collaboration with Clubs and the PFA, as well as key partners such as the Westfield W-League Broadcasters, with a range of threshold matters to be considered, such as continued growth and development of Westfield W-League, avoiding any dilution of the football quality of the Westfield W-League, having a robust elite player pathway to underpin expansion of the player talent pool, optimum geographic region(s) for expansion, and agreeing what is the optimal structure and format of Westfield W-League, taking into account evolving competitive pressures. “FFA has confirmed both verbally and in writing to the Central Coast Mariners that it will continue to provide support to the Central Coast Mariners as it seeks to evolve its commitment to the elite female pathway within its geographical area.” Central Coast Newspapers has asked Central Coast Mariners for a response to the FFA statement.
Source: Media statement, Jul 3 Football Federation of Australia media