Central Football has been transparent in regards to the debt the Hawke's Bay United franchise has with it, according to newly appointed chief executive Darren Mason.

Mason, who succeeded John McGifford as CEO after a revamp, says the matter was discussed at Central Football's annual meeting.

"We do not agree that the subject was 'fobbed off' at the AGM and the minutes of that meeting reflect that," he says after claims from Napier City Rovers financial manager Graeme Sole that he had attended the last two AGMs but found no traction.

The franchise is paying "an agreed" amount each month.


"The likelihood of the debt being repaid in full any time soon or, for that matter. any time in the future, is debateable and probably unlikely," says Mason, adding the answer to why it supports the franchise is simple.

The franchise senior and youth sides are the only federation sides playing in the ISPA Handa Premiership, thus establishing a pathway to elite footy and in keeping with what it offers its stakeholders.

The alternative, Mason says, is developing talent via clubs and federation programmes which means players will have to leave the federation to play at the national summer league level.

Central Football and Bay United, he says, are working hard to ensure the financial reliance is minimal.

" ... whilst [both parties] are not necessarily happy that the level of debt is what it is, it is simply a result of ensuring that we do have that pathway for our players."

Mason says stakeholders must understand, as Central Football has impressed on New Zealand Football, it doesn't believe the premiership model is financially sustainable, something other national franchises endorse.

With Bay United coach Brett Angell yet to make final his 2018-19 squad it cannot cannot confirm the number of homegrown talent involved this season.

However, Mason confirms there are several of them and those keen in the region have been offered a chance to attend trials.

Every single player in the youth squad is a product of the federation's clubs and/or FTC programmes.

He says the premiership is not "semi-professional".

"It is an amateur league and players are not paid to play as references to being a 'semi-pro' may suggest."

He says at no time Central Football increased stakeholders' membership fees to fund Bay United.

"In fact, fees are lower than what they were seven years ago. What we have done is continue to look at ways to develop the game through the generation of revenue outside of club entry fees," he says, adding nothing has been sacrificed or clubs approached to keep the franchise afloat.

Hawke's Bay United coach Brett Angell has yet to make final his new squad but there's promise of decent home-grown presence in the mix. Photo/file
Hawke's Bay United coach Brett Angell has yet to make final his new squad but there's promise of decent home-grown presence in the mix. Photo/file

Mason says there's no lack of transparency surrounding the Taranaki Deevelopment Project, considering it had sent a report detailing matters to all clubs in May 2018, before the AGM on May 20.

The land purchase is intended to derive optimum benefit for Central Football which, in turn, will enable it to seek "opportunities to secure, sustain and build the game by way of generating alternative revenues".

The days of relying on cash sponsorships and gaming grants is no longer guaranteed so other means are vital.

Mason says they are at the cusp of reviewing the FTC programme, including having staged roadshow sessions in Napier on Monday, Palmerston North on Tuesday and New Plymouth on October 15 so clubs and other interested parties can provide feedback.

"In terms of the introduction of new programmes, particularly around the development of our younger players, we are dammed if we do and damned if we don't.

"If we sit on our hands and do the same old things, we run the risk of being accused of not looking for new and improved ways of doing things.

"If we introduce a new idea or programme we get the response that we are not doing things to benefit the game."

Mason says Central Football believes its decisions have been made with the right intentions to support growth, development and long-term sustainability.

"We are disappointed that these questions need to be answered via the media as I personally would prefer to have had the opportunity to address any of these questions or concerns direct with those that have raised them."