Future of Football Review



Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) is implementing a comprehensive review into the effectiveness and efficiency of the governance and administration structures which underpin the game in our region.

The review responds to Northern NSW Football’s strategic priority to lead change and improve governance throughout football to gain efficiencies which make the game better and more accessible.

It will also address Principle VII of Football Australia’s XI Principles for the Future of Australian Football. 

Principle VII identifies transitioning towards a modern, fit for purpose governance framework for football in line with global standards and best-practice sports governance in Australia as one of the key challenges facing the game.


  • TBC


  • State of Play Stakeholder Roadshow – Completed in November/December 2021
  • Engagement with Stakeholders – January/March 2022
  • Initial Findings Reporting – May 2022
  • Proposed Solutions Reporting – June 2022
  • Recommendations Reporting – July 2022
  • Board Position Roadshow – August 2022

*These dates are indicitative and subject to change.




What consultation occurred with Member Zones in advance of the Review?

Consultation between the Member Zones (Zones) and NNSWF/Football Australia (FA) dates back to 6 August 2020 when Football Australia’s CEO briefed the Zones about the XI Principles for the Future of Australian Football. The XI Principles were subsequently released publicly in October 2020.

Member Zone Chairs and Managers met with NNSWF and FA on 16 August 2021 and again with NNSWF’s Board of Directors on 18 October 2021. These meetings were held via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions.

As demonstrated, NNSWF is available to meet with Member Zones’ as required.

Have the Member Zones been adequately informed about the terms of reference and process?

Following on from the forums with Member Zones in August and October 2021, NNSWF’s CEO and representatives from the Board of Directors presented exclusively to the Boards and Management of Newcastle Football, Hunter Valley Football and Macquarie Football collectively at Newcastle Football on 2 November. The four regional Zones convened by Zoom on 4 November. The terms of reference, NNSWF’s perception of the current limitations and the stakeholder consultation roadmap were presented. Following the presentations, Member Zones were encouraged to provide feedback, ask questions and schedule further meetings if required.

Is NNSWF committed to consultation with stakeholders throughout the review process?

Yes. A comprehensive summary of the consultation to date can be found here.

The key phases of the Stakeholder Consultation Roadmap commit NNSWF to consulting with stakeholders throughout the following phases:

  1. State of Play Stakeholder Roadshow – Completed in November/December 2021
  2. Engagement with Stakeholders – Feb/March/April 2022
  3. Initial Findings Reporting – May 2022
  4. Proposed Solutions Reporting – June 2022
  5. Recommendations Reporting – July 2022
  6. Board Position Roadshow – August 2022


Does NNSWF have a blueprint for the future of the game which will be implemented regardless of the findings of the Review?

No. Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) Board of Directors have not endorsed an alternate governance and administration structure blueprint. The outcome of the review is not predetermined.

Is NNSWF prepared for the risk of zone/s disaffiliating?

Disaffiliation is identified as a risk on NNSWF’s Risk Register and has been for many years. A mitigation strategy has been developed in accordance with the Board’s responsibility to effectively manage risk and the Member Federation’s Charter.

The recent, albeit brief disaffiliation of Central Coast Football from Football NSW reaffirms the need for the Board to effectively manage this risk.

Does NNSWF intend to dissolve the Zone structure?

The outcome of the review is not predetermined. NNSWF’s Constitution stipulates that the “State must be divided into Zones.”

Could the review result in NNSWF being unaccountable to Members and clubs? i.e. could clubs lose voting rights?

No. NNSWF’s Constitution stipulates that the Directors must invite each Incorporated Zone, two (2) individuals elected by each Unincorporated Zone and the chair of each Standing Committee, to apply for membership.

For the purpose of an example, when Northern Inland Football voluntarily wound up in 2020, the clubs formed an Unincorporated Association. The Unincorporated Zone subsequently elected two individuals who were admitted as Members of NNSWF, ensuring that local clubs continued to have a “voice” and vote (2).

Could the outcomes of the Review reduce the level of support provided to clubs and face to face interaction?

No. The aim of the review is to identify and subsequently address the limitations of the current governance and administration structures to ensure the region’s largest club-based sport has the capacity to tangibly support clubs and other stakeholders to deliver quality football experiences which are affordable for families.

The intention is to identify changes and enhancements that create opportunities to provide the game’s stakeholders, including clubs, coaches, match officials and volunteers with more tangible support and face to face interaction.

Less support and interaction is not going to achieve the desired outcomes of this review for the sport.

Is the stakeholder survey anonymous?

Yes, the survey is anonymous and all responses go directly to SBP. When reporting, all data is de-identified, with results reported in aggregate. There is no personally identifiable information included in any of the reporting and the process is managed completely independently of NNSWF.

Review background

What is being reviewed?
The review will examine the effectiveness and efficiency of the governance and administration structures underpinning the game in northern NSW.

What is the scope of the review?
The scope of the review is outlined in the terms of reference.

Will the football community be consulted?
The review will include a robust, transparent stakeholder consultation roadmap, which in part will be facilitated by an independent change consultant.

Who will be included in the stakeholder consultation roadmap?
Member Zones, Standing Committees, clubs, coaches, referees, volunteers, players and staff will all have an opportunity to be heard and contribute in the process.


When will the review commence?
The Stakeholder Consultation Roadmap will commence in November 2021.

What information has been shared during the State of Play Stakeholder Roadshow?
All information is available in the State of Play Stakeholder Roadshow presentation slides delivered by NNSWF CEO, David Eland.

When will the review be completed?
The Stakeholder Consultation Roadmap will be completed by mid-2022.

Who is responsible for the review?

Who is leading the review process?
NNSWF Chief Executive Officer, David Eland, has the responsibility of implementing the review.

Parts of the Stakeholder Consultation Roadmap will be facilitated by an independent change consultant, Sport Business Partners (SBP).

Who are Sport Business Partners?
SBP have 20 years’ experience in similar projects at Bowls Australia and Golf NSW. SBP is familiar with football in our region through their facilitation of Northern NSW Football’s Strategic Plan 2010-2014.    
Leading future phases of the review is Managing Director Martin Hirons. Martin’s experience in the strategy and research sector spans more than 32 years. He is a member of Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), The Research Society (TRS), a Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute and holds a Bachelor of Business and a Master of Business (Marketing) from Monash University. 

Who is accountable for the review?
NNSWF’s Board of Directors is accountable for approving the final recommendations.

Does Football Australia support NNSWF’s review of the governance and administration structures?

Yes. Football Australia endorses the review, terms of reference, consultation roadmap and NNSWF’s status as a Member Federation of FA.

View letter of support from Football Australia’s Chairman, Chris Nikou.


What happens when the consultation concludes?
A report will be released addressing the gaps identified throughout the review.

Is the process benchmarked?
Sport Australia’s Sport Governance Principles will be used as a benchmark of what is considered best-practice sport governance.

What has happened in the review so far?
Here is Future of Football review consultation timeline from June 2020 to May 2022

Who can I contact for more information?
Send enquiries to review@northernnswfootball.com.au




Updated 10:55 AM 26/05/2022