A plan for the 2023 season
Planning must be well underway for the 2023 Tasmanian football season.
Football Tasmania will benefit from some new developments, such as the revamping of KGV Park and the development of North Chigwell.
KGV Park will have a new artificial surface, new floodlights and new changerooms, making games feasible at any time.
But, I believe there also needs to be a revamping of competitions at the top levels.
People often mock the Summer Cup, the traditional tournament that opens the season. They say it is a waste of time and means nothing.
It used to mean something, and there was decent prizemoney for winning it.
The tournament needs to be revamped and made worthwhile for competing teams.
I advocate a return to a four-group system, with each group consisting of three teams.
Four of the five southern NPL Tasmania teams need to be seeded, with one in each group.
For example, South Hobart, Kingborough Lions United, Glenorchy Knights and Clarence Zebras should be seeded. Olympia Warriors, the remaining southern NPL team, would be drawn in any of the four groups.
The remaining three places in each group would be drawn from the seven Southern Championship teams, namely New Town White Eagles, Hobart United, Taroona, Hobart City Beachside, South East United, Metro and University.
Under this format, a sample tournament could look like this:
Group A: South Hobart, Olympia Warriors, Taroona.
Group B: Kingborough Lions United, New Town White Eagles, Metro.
Group C: Glenorchy Knights, Hobart City Beachside, Hobart United.
Group D: Clarence Zebras, South East United, University.
The winner of each group would qualify for the semi-finals and the winners of the two semi-finals would, naturally, play in the final.
Rather than being a meaningless pre-season competition, the Summer Cup would have some worth.
Each group would pit a strong team (the NPL team) against Southern Championship sides of varying strength.
In the group games, each team would thus face difficult opponents, easier opponents, or opponents of roughly the same strength as that team.
It would be a realistic preparation for the league season and have some merit.
Sponsorship and decent prize money would make the tournament a credible one and one well worth winning.
In the north of the State, the Steve Hudson Cup pre-season competition should be revived and involve all three NPL teams in that part of the State, as well as the Northern Championship sides.
Not so long ago, some southern teams even competed in the Steve Hudson Cup, which helped make it a prestigious tournament.
What about the league structure?
I shall deal mainly with the NPL Tasmania competition.
To make it fair, there should be 28 rounds and not 21, as has been the case.
That way, every team plays every other team home and away twice. This is fairer than the present set-up where a team might play another away twice and at home only once. To say that this can be evened up over two seasons misses the point completely.
Twenty-eight games for each team are not too many, and it is fairer than the present system.
The Lakoseljac Cup is well organised at present and could stay in the current format.
First-past-the-post should decide the NPL title, but an end-of-season top-four finals series may add a bit of interest, especially if a team runs away with the league title, as Devonport did this year.
The major honour should, however, always go to the team that finishes on top after the 28 rounds.
I believe the life-blood of football is promotion and relegation. This must become part of Tasmanian football.
There are various ways of introducing this.
There could be a two-match home-and-away showdown between the Northern and Southern champions, and there could also be a play-off with the winner of this against the bottom side in the NPL.
If no team wishes to go up, the last-placed NPL team might be safe.
The details can be worked out, but there should be some form of promotion and relegation.
The women’s competitions are another matter.
The people at Football Tasmania can turn their minds to that in the off-season as well.
These are just my personal opinions after reporting on the game for 43 years.
I feel the game needs a gee-up and the ideas I have expressed may be the tonic needed.
I hope this post leads to some fruitful discussions over the summer.
It’s easy for me as I don’t have to run a club nor implement the plans. I realise the hard work club officials and Football Tasmania officials are required to do.
All I ask is that people consider the ideas. Come up with others if you like, but let’s work together and make the 2023 season one of the best in a long time.