Central Federation football chief executive John McGifford hopes a long-running battle with a Whanganui football faction can come to an end after denying claims of standover bully boy tactics against local players.
For more than two years Wanganui Marist president Russell Eades has been asking the same question of CF without what he describes as a satisfactory answer.
He has launched a scathing attack on CF including claiming that CF are using kids as pawns and he has again questioned what he described as excessive amounts footballers are being charged to play social football.
"Why are many local football players unhappy and either feeling bullied into making a choice they don't want or feeling like they have no choice at all?" Eades asked.
He said footballers have been told that if they play in a proposed social league they cannot belong to a club that has junior players or travelling senior teams — the teams in those clubs will be excluded from competitions.
"Either all a club's/school's teams are in Central Football competitions or none are," Eades said.
"If social players want to do their own thing, kids and competitive players will be banned from playing in the local competitions, that are run by the organisation that is supposedly responsible for running the game."
McGifford said that a number of Eades' claims, including costs associated with competing in CF leagues and benefits, were void of facts.
"This (Eade's charges) has been going on for sometimes longer than I care to remember." McGifford said.
"His concerns about costs are his opinion and he is entitled to that but as for using kids as pawns, that's not true.
"Players of all ages have a free choice to play for whoever they want to.
"If they play for teams not in the Central Federation they can't expect to have the use of CF resources — access to development officers, coaching facilities, referees, NZ Football resources etc. All those things cost money so if you're not contributing why should you have it.
"There are too many things to go into but simple things like player of the day certificates for all junior teams, referees, medals, trophies including holding a prizegiving in Whanganui last year, etc all add up to costs.
"Being affiliated to New Zealand Football covers everything from supporting a 4 year old kicking the ball for the first time right through to the All Whites going to the World Cup, and events like the U20's World Cup which came to NZ in 2015 which brought huge economic benefit to football and the country," McGifford said.
Eades claimed that for the current season it will cost $1668 to enter a team in the Whanganui men or women's local league competition, and that will be the same charge in Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne in their equivalent local competitions.
"However, the Federation is unwilling to provide any detail of the actual costs associated with running this competition," Eades said.
"If you carry out the simple exercise of quantifying all costs necessary to run a social football competition, there are only three items. Ground hire, administration and referees.
Social footballers don't need coaches, representative football or development programmes, or any input from CF or their staff to just turn up and play on a Saturday.
"With their current cost structure CF is in effect saying that the administration component for the local league teams is the entire $1668 as the other two items are charged separately, and in addition to the $1668 team fee," Eades said.
McGifford said the fundamental part of all this was that the fees Federation charge (and not just Whanganui – all 7) cover way more than a game of football.
"That's what Russell continues to ignore. Playing in unaffiliated leagues does nothing for the development of football in the game so if you want to play in those league, which is a matter of choice that CF has no say over, then don't expect to be part of the bigger football family, don't expect the development and don't expect CF or NZF resources.
"If a person or club is fine with just expecting the rest of the country to get on with supporting the cost of the game regionally, nationally and internationally then the choice is easy. But if they want to play their part in the growth and success in the game they won't achieve that playing in non-affiliated leagues," McGifford said.
Eades says CF had refused requests to see invoices or accounting information on the charges, going back to June last year.
In an email to the Wanganui Chronicle, Eades said they had been given everything but the answer to the question they had continually asked, that is: "What are the subs paid by players in the local league competitions spent on that directly relates to what they were charged for — entry in the Local League?"
"One club wrote to the Federation in December last year requesting a breakdown of these costs but the Federation refused to provide the information. What is Central Football afraid of? What are they hiding?" Eades asked.
"We have been given everything but the answer to the question we have continually asked," Eades said.
McGifford said that was simply not true.
"A response was sent to all clubs that we will happily deal with the questions through Whanganui Football Incorporated, who are representative of all clubs in Whanganui," McGifford said.
"WF Inc looked at it, deemed they were satisfied with all CF has done and said they wouldn't be pursuing it. I have no intention of dealing with Mr Eadess as a rep of an individual club when there is a body to do that, and he knows it. Interestingly he once was on the executive of WF Inc but left when he couldn't get his own way."