Sport

Rebel league an option in Canberra NPL disagreement with Capital Football

A rebel league is a possible last resort if the current impasse between Capital Football and the Canberra National Premier League clubs continues.

FFA technical director Eric Abrams met with the Canberra NPL presidents to hear their concerns on Thursday.

The Canberra NPL clubs will boycott playing Canberra United Academy teams because they believe Capital Football has reneged on two agreements reached late last year about the structure of the game in the ACT.

Fairfax Media believes the idea of setting up a breakaway competition independent of Capital Football – the governing body in the region – has been discussed as a last-case scenario.

It's believed financial backing for a rebel league has already been investigated and contact has been made with the referees' association in regards to access to officials.

But the NPL clubs are awaiting a response to a letter the eight presidents sent to Capital Football chairman Mark O'Neill last month.

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They have two sticking points: the inclusion of the CUA teams in this year's NPL and also the lack of action taken on making the NPL presidents voting members of the Capital Football board.

The presidents felt they had reached an agreement with O'Neill on both issues at a meeting held on December 14 last year, only for the CUA to be launched later that day, and they're still waiting for action on voting rights almost two months later.

It led to Tuggeranong United withdrawing from pre-season friendlies against CUA planned for Sunday.

All eight clubs are united in the boycott and others will follow Tuggeranong's lead – including home-and-away games for premiership points – if they don't get a satisfactory outcome.

The clubs were happy to play the CUA teams as midweek games, but felt the inclusion of the high-performance representative sides in the competition was inappropriate.

Like the FFA Centre of Excellence side in the NPL, the CUA team won't play finals despite helping shape the make-up of those finals.

Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid said on Wednesday clubs were entitled to pull out of friendlies if they wanted to, but could face sanctions if they withdrew from scheduled games in the season proper.

She said O'Neill had been on holidays and would respond to the clubs' letter this week.

Abrams was in Canberra on other business, but took the opportunity to meet the Canberra NPL presidents to hear their concerns at first hand and relay them back to both the FFA and Capital Football.

Fairfax Media requested to speak to Abrams, but the FFA issued a statement about the meeting instead.

"FFA technical director Eric Abrams has met with a number of NPL club presidents from within Capital Football to discuss a range of issues," an FFA spokesperson said in a statement.

"Out of respect for all parties involved, FFA will not be making any comment in regard to these discussions at this time."

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