By Terry Maddaford
Central United chairman Ivan Vuksich has slammed the seven-week build up for the All Whites ahead of soccer's July-August Confederation's Cup in Mexico.
"I'm amazed someone in New Zealand Soccer has agreed to a seven-week disruption to domestic football," said Vuksich. "It wouldn't happen anywhere else in the world. I think four weeks would be fair and reasonable."
Vuksich is concerned the mid-season disruption could hit his club's chances in the North Island League and, longer term, in their bid to win a place in the Oceania qualifying tournament for the World Club Championship.
"Until the All Whites are named we won't know how many players we are likely to lose to the 22-man squad but it is fair to say we can expect at least two will be included. It is more likely to be four.
"Unless we were given dispensation, we would be without these players for up to five league games as well as two rounds of the Chatham Cup," Vuksich said.
"It is not as though the All Whites are building towards the World Cup. They are already through to the Confederation's Cup finals and are assured of $1.5 million. I can't see the need for such a long build-up."
Central has current or former internationals Ivan Vicelich, Paul Urlovic, Noah Hickey, Mark Elrick and Tinoi Christie as well as an in-form goalkeeper on their books.
On form thus far Central are a shoo-in to win the league and probably defend the Chatham Cup they won so emphatically last year but Vuksich is concerned any disruption could have far-reaching implications.
North Island League manager Rex Dawkins is loathe to consider any dispensation.
"I will be very reluctant to grant any dispensation that disrupts the league," said Dawkins. "While the rules allow clubs with two or more players called to international duty to apply for dispensation, there are no guarantees it will be given.
"I will talk it through with Central but I'm determined that the only change I will look at is switching their home game with North Shore on July 11 to a midweek date before the All Whites leave. As far as I know there is no dispensation for the Chatham Cup."
It could, of course, be largely academic if Central continue to dominate the next few weeks as much as they have so far.
They go into tomorrow's sixth round - a home game against struggling Melville - five points clear and with second-placed Manawatu facing a difficult home game with Metro.
In other northern games tomorrow, Mt Wellington play Waitakere City at Bill McKinlay Park and North Shore are at home to Lower Hutt City.
By Terry Maddaford