Australia’s National Gridiron League Forced To Postpone Launch Until October 2017

In a shocking development, the National Gridiron League of Australia has informed players and coaches that the date of the league launch has been moved from October of 2016 to October 2017.

The league had been forging ahead, announcing the arrival of all the head coaches this week just days ago.

According to a statement by the league on its website, the issue preventing a 2016 launch is a lack of stadiums:

“Some of these project deliverables are out of our control and have fallen behind schedule. With the inability for the NGL to move the season back due to availability of venues, we regret to announce the NGL will move its season to start in October 2017. Due to the size and the nature of The NGL, the league is unable to move the season by a number of weeks and hence the only scope is to move to 2017.”

Real issue apparently visas

However, AFI has been informed that there is another reason which is far more crippling. Visas.  Apparently the Australian authorities have balked at issuing all the hundreds of visas in a timely fashion. Calls to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection have gone unanswered.

Players and coaches not happy

Nevertheless, the league has informed the players and coaches, who are not happy to say the least. The comments range from “Lol. Well this is embarrassing.” to  “This s*** is crazy man.”

One of the most telling quotes probably sums up the issue for most players and coaches: “I quit my job and took out a lease in Brisbane already so I’m now completely f*****.”

With hundreds of players having to suddenly rearrange their lives after planning around traveling to Australia soon to play football, this is a blow to a league that had already been under fire. Marcin Soluch, managing director of the league admits this in explaining the league is moving forward:

“I understand we have a lot of critics. However, unfortunately for them, at the NGL it is business as usual with an opportunity to take the product to the next level.

The league has responded to messages and emails by referring to the statement on the website, which refers only to the stadium problem. Apparently some of the teams were to be using top rate facilities while others were having to share facilities with multiple sports.

Second professional American football league to postpone this year

This is the second American football league to postpone its launch from 2016 to 2017. On April 1, the Major League Football league announced that it was postponing its planned spring 2016 start to 2017 citing a variety of reasons related to organization.

There is no doubt that launching a brand new football league is associated with problems. Launching a league in another country unfamiliar with issues related to a “foreign” sport is that much more problematic.

We can only hope that all the players and coaches who are now scrambling to find work can do so and feel confident that the league will indeed operate next year.

 

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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