Spectre of legal action sees Football West declare Joondalup United’s promotion to NPL WA void

Joondalup United Football Club was crowned State League champions in September.
Joondalup United Football Club was crowned State League champions in September.

JOONDALUP United Football Club’s senior teams will not play in the WA National Premier League (NPL WA) next year.

The club released a statement on Friday stating “a challenge from relegated Subiaco AFC has led to Football West determining the competition rules need to be rewritten and the movement of clubs has been put on hold until then”.

It said Football West told the club that despite working together for the past couple of months to meet the requirements for NPL, “some of the conditional arrangements in place would not hold up under a court of law when challenged by another party”.

“However, Football West did provide the club with assurances that the juniors will still participate in the NPL from 2017,” it said.

The club has started an online petition to “give Joondalup United its rightful place in the WA NPL”, which will be submitted to Football West.

So far, it has almost 6000 signatures.

It states that on September 17, the club was crowned State League champions, which allows the club to be promoted to the NPL, one step below the top-tier A-league, “once certain criteria are met”.

“According to Football West, and based on the account of third parties, Joondalup United had ticked all of the off-field boxes,” it said.

It said the club had since “spent thousands on preparing for the 2017 season” with player trials, fees paid to secure places in the squad and coaches undertaking additional training.

“Following a threat of legal action by Subiaco over Joondalup United’s adherence to the NPL criteria, Football West has simply taken the easy way out by putting a block on promotion and relegation until 2017,” it said.

Joondalup United posted on its Facebook page that it would do “everything we can to have this decision reviewed and subsequently reversed”.

It also posted a letter from Football West that stated by the end of 2016 the club needed to have junior teams in the under-11 to under-15 age groups, a venue that complies with the NPL by-law, an appropriate constitution, an assessment of training programs, an annual report of activities and evidence the club maintains financial records required by law.

“The arrangement between Joondalup United, Sorrento Football Club and the City of Joondalup for the use of Percy Doyle Reserve in 2017 raises a significant issue,” it said.

It said that as at September 17, there was no “enforceable agreement” in place.

“Sorrento FC stated that it was ‘agreeable’ to a ground-share arrangement but documentation for the approval of both clubs was yet to be produced,” it said.

“Consistent with the approach that Football West has adopted to the NPL eligibility criteria since the inception of the competition, an in-principle agreement is not sufficient to demonstrate a club has a compliant venue.”

It also said that while the club had met the criteria for fielding junior teams, it was yet to submit an assessment of training programs or “demonstrate compliance with financial and governance reporting obligations”.

A statement released by Football West on Saturday confirmed the NPL competition would remain unchanged for the 2017 season.

“Football West will provide further clarity on promotion and relegation criteria between NPL WA and State League Division One clubs prior to the start of the 2017 season,” it said.

“Football West is committed to conducting a review of the NPL WA and will develop a strategic plan in consultation with stakeholders including clubs, players and officials.”