The Top of the South will no longer have a side in the National Football League with Tasman United dropped from New Zealand’s premier domestic competition.
After four seasons in the league, with finishes of 8th, 6th, 7th and 5th, the club is one of two that have been cut from competition.
The South Island will enter a side based in Christchurch, a collaboration between Tasman, Canterbury United and Southern United, the other franchise not entering.
Captain Fox Slotemaker is hugely disappointed by the revelation and admits the club has made a lot of mistakes in its short existence.
Fox says while the club had been performing well, the organisation has let them down with mismanagement leading to it becoming unstainable.
“We brought in a lot of players from out of town who ended up leaving.”
Fox says he felt the fans’ frustration when players like Jama Boss, Facu Barbero and Hashim Noorzai were brought in with plenty of hype but left after very short stints.
“It ends up being a waste of time and money.”
The 24-year-old says there is enough talent within the region to compete at national level.
“In our last game against Hamilton we had no imports, all local players with an average age of under 21 so we have proven we can do it with local players, I don’t know why we didn’t do that from the start.”
He cites a range of reasons for the uncanny number of imports who made abrupt departures.
“Sometimes they don’t get what they are promised, sometimes they are not good enough, sometimes it is not the right fit. It’s definitely not all imports, occasionally there are ones that are very good for the region and are great to have. Tasman just does not have a great track record when it comes to finding the right ones.”
He believes the same mistake was made when it came to coaches, though he couldn’t fault the efforts of the latest coach Jess Ibrom, who left in December 2019.
“He slaved away and put his heart and soul into Tasman and, though he wasn’t from Nelson, he was hugely passionate about the team.”
However, Fox says there are plenty of quality coaches in Nelson that could do the job for far less money.
Fox says he has loved his time with Tasman United and appreciates all the support from the fans over the years.
“It was always a dream of mine to play national league for a Nelson team and in 2016 it happened. I have been hugely privileged to wear the armband, it has been the highlight of my career and I will be devastated to see it go.”
Nelson Bays Football is also currently without a chairman, general manager, or football development officer.
Operations have also been moved from Nelson to Mainland Football offices in Christchurch.
Former Nelson Bays Football development officer George Campbell says as a result of Tasman’s mismanagement, football in the region has been set back a decade.
“Funds were allocated for a rainy day i.e. Covid-19 but were frittered away on staff and player expenses.”
Davor Tavich was head coach of Tasman United from 2016-18 and says during his time, he felt the team was in a good position going forward.
“The franchise was healthy, but it has fallen apart, there are plenty of questions that need to be asked.”
George claims NZF and Mainland Football have failed to show transparency or accountability.
CEO of Mainland Football Julian Bowden says the federation and NBF are working with the clubs on the delivery model for the game moving forward.
“What we do recognise is that we will all need to adapt, and we are working through that process now. The real danger would be to make no change.”
Julian says with a football season underway, NBF has been able to generate revenue in line with its expectations.
He says appointments of a general manager and director of football will be part of a wider review process they are going through “to ensure we have a delivery model fit for purpose”.
“Nelson Bays Football still has an office in Nelson and staff employed in operational roles either in full-time roles or part-time roles delivering community programs.”
Julian says they were looking for replacements for at general manager and football development officer before Covid hit.
“It put the brakes on that process and has led us to a review and refocus of what we need to deliver the game.”