Northern NSW Football boss David Eland has defended the reduction in fees passed down to premier competition clubs, saying the federation is "doubling down" on an already substantial investment.
NNSWF announced on Thursday reductions in fees to help clubs in the Northern NSW NPL, Herald Women's Premier League and Northern League One get back on the field in shortened seasons from July 10-12. The federation said total participation fees had been reduced by 24%, 23% and 27% respectively.
NPL fees were cut by $9313.75 to $29,161.45. This included a NNSWF senior levy of $132, down from $165, per player and a club competition fee of $6146.25, down from $8195.
NNSWF also absorbed the club contribution to BarTV streaming of $1100 each. Referees offered a 10 per cent cut in their pay. However, prizemoney across the three competitions was also cut to less than half.
Association of Australian Football Clubs director and secretary Christo Patsan described the fee cut as "very, very disappointing".
Patsan believed they should have mirrored the financial hit taken by coaches and players in the NPL.
At least three clubs are not paying players this season and most are offering a quarter to one third of original deals because of losses in sponsorship and potential crowd-less matches due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"The players and coaches across the 10 clubs, and this is a conservative estimate, are taking a cut of around $700,000 to put the game on the park," Patsan said.
"That's how savage the cuts have been. I laud the volunteers, the players and coaches. They recognise the state of the game because of the pandemic and are doing their bit. So everyone should be doing their bit."
Eland, though, said he was "very satisfied that where we've landed is appropriate" on fees.
He said NNSWF already invested more than $150,000 across the three premier competitions each year and the recent reductions would mean total savings of more than $225,000 across the clubs.
"This not a cash cow," Eland said. "This is not NNSWF reducing the amount we make out of the premier competitions. This is doubling down and investing more in response to the position the clubs are in."
Eland also flagged a rise in competition fees in 2021 and encouraged clubs to reassess their expenditure, including the payment of amateur players which for many years has been described by clubs as "out of control" and "unsustainable".
"We do make a significant investment across the three competitions and that's because we want to showcase the best of local football. They also play a vital role in the development of players and coaches," he said.
"But we haven't been immune to this financial crisis. We've been hit hard. The board, as they should, are looking at every service and function through the organisation and the investment in the premier competitions is certainly being scrutinised.
"We all know a lot of money is being spent on players and there are two issues there. The paying of players in isolation isn't an issue as long as it's sustainable, but the other is we don't have a professionally contracted player in NNSW, so in accordance with our FFA registration regulations, no player should be getting more than $110 a week."
Patsan believed referees should have offered a larger pay cut but Eland said: "The payments our match officials receive are extremely modest compared to some of the other members federations and their willingness to offer a 10 per cent reduction is excellent."
Draft draws for the new-look seasons have been distributed to clubs for feedback.
There will also be no Graham Jennings Medal this year.
NPL prizemoney will be restricted to the following categories in 2020:
. Premiers - $5,000
. Grand Final Winners - $3,000
. Grand Final Runners-up - $1,000