Building Australia's Football Community—review into the sustainability of football

4. National Governance

Page last updated: 25 October 2013

Overall, the key recommendations of the Crawford Review in relation to the governance of football have been implemented. This has been the result of FFA and member federations working hard and with newly established good will, to drive the reforms. There are still shortcomings, for instance a number of Standing Committees have not been implemented within particular jurisdictions and there are still inefficiencies in the system, resulting from multiple levels of administration. However the overall improvement in the governance and management of football appears central to the achievements highlighted elsewhere in this report.

The Crawford Review recommendations held direct implications for the constitution of the national body. A new national constitution was commissioned by the Crawford Review committee and the Australian Sports Commission for consideration by the FFA Board.

The FFA constitution closely aligns FFA with its State and Territory members (members). It also provides for consistency in objects; adoption of common rules, policies, regulations and by-laws; the establishment of State and Territory national standing committees; agreement of the members to comply with the provisions of the national constitution; the requirement for members to provide copies of their membership databases to FFA; and the requirement for members to have and to amend their constitutions in line with the FFA approved model constitution for members.

Under the FFA constitution, the initial voting members were FFA’s Directors rather than the nine existing State and Territory federations which were interim members. Membership was to be offered to the accepted State and Territory federations after they complied with the requirements of the Crawford Review’s recommendations, particularly in relation to the adoption of constitutions which complimented the FFA constitution. The pace of change within each State and Territory reflected the various attitudes, power plays and local complexities. The changes invariably required the amalgamation of previously separate, and in some cases combative, State and Territory federations including State leagues and junior, amateur, women’s and Futsal associations. Initially members of the review committee, then increasingly FFA with assistance from the State departments of sport and recreation took responsibility for addressing the complexities associated with restructuring and the adoption of compliant constitutions.

The Australian Capital Territory was the first federation member to adopt a compliant constitution (January 2004), followed by Queensland (February 2004), Tasmania (March 2004), Western Australia (July 2004), Northern Territory (September 2004), Northern New South Wales (September 2004), South Australia (April 2005), Victoria (April 2006) and New South Wales (March 2007).

Consolidation of Football Administration

Duplication of administration and misalignment of purpose is generally evident where unaffiliated bodies operate outside a recognised peak body. Amalgamating these bodies, consolidating resources and sharing direction improves sustainability and is both encouraged and actively supported by federal, State and Territory governments. Since 2003, FFA and its member federations have brought unaffiliated bodies ‘into the fold’. Although there are examples where unaffiliated groups do not maintain formal ties to FFA or its member bodies, substantial progress has nevertheless been made.

It appears likely that a range of factors are contributing to progress in this area, including:
  • an improved governance framework
  • enhanced management capability at FFA and State and Territory level including improved communication and negotiation capabilities
  • greater trust and goodwill

Ongoing Reform

Recently FFA and its member federations have agreed to a national charter which outlines the roles and responsibilities of each body across the areas in which the parties interact. This includes football development, women’s football, interaction with A-League clubs, commercial activities, marketing, media and communications. A common theme of the review consultations was acknowledgement that relationships have improved between the State and Territory federations and FFA, but there is still room for improvement. The need to further develop consultative processes and the sharing of resources to maximise efficiencies were particular areas of interest.

Role of the States / Unitary Models

National sporting organisations were originally put into place primarily to manage national team programs and liaise with international federations. As stated previously, this federated structure has created layers of administration and management. Each layer has its own responsibilities, such as member relationships, investment, workforce development and service delivery. Duplication of responsibilities such as strategic planning, reporting, financial management and marketing, create inefficiencies.

A number of sports have investigated the implementation of unitary structures that attempt to overcome these inefficiencies. The desire of peak bodies to assess performance and improve the way the governance model impacts on the desired outcomes of the organisation is to be encouraged. The review notes that ongoing discussions between FFA and the State and Territory federations are occurring and considers that opportunities to reduce duplication, improve efficiencies and increase consistency should continue to be explored.