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Football Queensland’s move to shaft Magpies Crusaders United labelled a blow to regional sport


When Football Queensland announced “exciting” competition reforms this week, a family in Mackay was devastated.

The reforms would make the top semi-professional league, the Queensland National Premier League, exclusive to the south-east shafting Mackay Magpies-Crusaders, the only team outside the south-east from the competition.

Scott and Michelle McKenzie fear their son Angus, who plays for Mackay Magpies-Crusaders is facing a decision between pursuing a footballing dream or living in Mackay.

“It really is quite devastating to our family, we’re not a family that can afford to pack Angus up and send him down to live in Brisbane,” Michelle McKenzie said.

a young boy in a football jersey kicks a soccer ball
Angus McKenzie grew up playing for local Mackay football clubs. (

Supplied: Scott McKenzie

)

Angus’ father, Scott argued players wanting to pursue professional football would be more up against it with no opportunity to play in the top semi-professional league.

“Kids outside the south-east corner are already, really up against it from a football perspective,” he said.

Mr. McKenzie is worried it would discourage players who could pursue professional careers from playing football.

“There’s not a lot of families that we know that can just pack up and relocate for their child to pursue their dream and their career,” he said.

Regional clubs relegated to separate league

Clubs outside of the south-east will now be forced to play in regional conferences including the northern conference which spans from Mackay to Cairns. 

The winner of a regional conference would get the opportunity to play in a brief finals series against south-east teams and other teams from Queensland, but not in a typical competition.

Magpies-Crusaders chairman Barry Jansen said the separation of south-east clubs from the rest of Queensland would alienate regional football clubs.

“It’s the metropolitan who get the higher class of play and we’re left to play in the regions and can’t benefit from playing against the best,” he said.

Mr. Jansen said the decision has consigned regional opportunities to an archaic pathway.

“[We’re] Not in a very good spot. The only way you get better competition is by competing in the elite level,” he said.  

a player in a white and black jersey kicks a ball into a goal
Angus McKenzie in action in his debut for Magpies-Crusaders this season.(

Supplied: Scott McKenzie

)

Sides can be relegated from the NPL based on poor performance if they finish in the bottom three positions in the competition, but this restructure would remove Magpies-Crusaders not based on performance but geography.

Football Queensland declined an interview and did not respond to detailed questions from the ABC, however in a statement said: “They will meet with all Mackay clubs on Wednesday, 5 May to discuss how the implementation of the reforms will deliver significant benefits”



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