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    CSA debate: The clubs


    As I hinted in my opening Onward! item last weekend, I’m hoping this new blog can signal a somewhat more positive approach to the ongoing debate over the Canadian Soccer Association.

    Enough verbal bombs have been lobbed to get everyone’s attention. What we really need now is an on-line staging ground for new and constructive ideas.


    Tonight at nine (eastern time), I’ll be joining Nigel Reed and Bob Iarusci on the panel of FAN590 radio’s The Soccer Show. Our scheduled guest is Neil Brown, president of Oakville Soccer Club and a partner with Deloitte & Touche, authors of a report that recommended a significant CSA overhaul (and was kept under wraps until it appeared last year on the Canadian Soccer Federation’s website).

    This should be a very interesting chat.

    As you probably know, the CSA anchored its recent strategic plan on a $5 fee increase for Canada’s hundreds of thousands of registered soccer players. What you might not know is that the request was just turned down flat by the Ontario Soccer Association, and is struggling to find any support at all in the rest of Canada.

    Brown’s club, Oakville, is gigantic. It’s the biggest soccer club in Canada – quite likely bigger than anything in the United States, as well. When the CSA released its plan, Oakville offered up a thoughtful 19-page response, offering support but stressing clear, specific areas that still urgently need to be addressed.

    It prophetically notes that the club had already set its 2009 operating budgets – and fees – making it very hard to accommodate a significant line item like the CSA’s $5 hike request. How significant? $53,000 for Oakville, alone. Word from inside the OSA is that their budget is set, also, and this was a huge reason for rejecting the CSA request.

    Oakville worries that the CSA plan has far too many goals and objectives. It calls the five-year plan to increase the overall operating budget to $25-million from $13-million “odd,” saying “This should be a means to an end and not the other way around.”

    This matters, because a lot of us out here think the ultimate long-term answer to Canada’s chronic footballing woes lies with the clubs. Why, for example, should they raise all this extra money for the CSA when the organization has been so woefully ineffective and inefficient these past two decades?

    What would happen, for example, if the clubs kept that money for themselves?

    Three bullet points from the Oakville response:

    - “For this amount, we could invest in an additional five development directors to work with our developing players.”

    - “We have seen no articulation of how this money will be spent, and what spending allocations will be.”

    - “We have seen little that addresses the opportunities to streamline the entire administration of the game in this country.”

    This is the debate we really need to have, folks. And with the CSA fee increase foundering in rough seas, there’s an opening and opportunity for new and better plans – right now.

    I hope you’ll listen in, and contribute all your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.


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