Gungahlin United has decided to use its National Premier League Women’s team budget to help repay its monumental debt to Capital Football, instead of losing six competition points.
Region Media revealed earlier this month that ACT Policing is investigating an allegation of fraud involving Gungahlin United, due to the club owing a significant amount of money to Capital Football.
Capital Football planned to penalise the club by deducting six competition points from the NPL1 side and NPLW side, but after meetings with Capital Football an alternative resolution was agreed upon.
Gungahlin United agreed to take six competition points off its NPL1 side, but in exchange for the NPLW team’s six competition points, the club would allocate its budget to repaying the debt to Capital Football.
It is believed that the Gungahlin United board allocated $10,000 to its NPLW side before the start of the 2019 season, which is substantially less than the budget allocated to the men’s program.
Gungahlin United president Neil Harlock said there were “budget reductions” across the men’s and women’s programs but would not confirm how much money was taken from the men’s budget.
“This season we allocated a potential budget towards first grade NPLW and NPL1 player payments,” he told Region Media. “It is up to each head coach to run their program as they see fit.
“Our women’s budget was there so the head coach could use it however he saw fit. We sat down initially and discussed how we would potentially try and use it but it was never said that we would pay players per game.
“The decision was made between the head coach Diego Iglesias and myself. [We contemplated] what we could maybe offer back to Capital Football so the girls wouldn’t be penalised points this season. We decided the six points were more important than the budget.”
The club has not paid its NPLW side for the past two seasons and has admitted the men’s budget is more substantial than the women’s budget.
Mr Harlock said the club believed if the NPLW side was docked six points it would have “a serious effect on playing numbers and the playing group”. Mr Harlock confirmed the players themselves were not consulted and the decision was made between himself, the head of football, head coach Diego Iglesias and Gungahlin’s NPLW coordinator.
“The mentality of female players as to why they are playing at the club is probably different than the motivation that probably a lot of men have across Canberra football,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the girls have never been paid any money for the last two to three seasons at Gungahlin. I think the majority of players would rather start the season at zero points than need the money.”
Women’s rights advocate Leisha Lister, who has been vocal about gender discrimination in local football before, said she was shocked and angered by the news.
“If I were those women, I would be tempted to stop playing,” she said. “I would walk away and go to another club where I was respected for playing in the women’s team.
“Why would I stick around when the club does not value me as a footballer when I could go to a club that would?”