Team owner calls for Oceania football competition to turn pro
One of the Oceania Champions League's most successful club owners believes the competition is ready to turn professional.
One of the region's most experienced football club owners says the time has come to talk about the Oceania Champions League turning professional.
Hekari United have been club champions in Papua New Guinea for close to a decade and won the O-League title in 2010.
Team owner and chairman, John Kapi Natto, told Vinnie Wylie he's recruited heavily for the current O-League campaign in order to be competitive but says such investment may not be sustainable.
JOHN KAPI NATTO: For me and for Auckland, and for others - Amicale - I think the three of us are the ones that are digging out of our pockets for the last ten years or nine years in spending our resources in the football. The return that we get is minimum. I think Auckland City the region is OK, satisfactory because four years in the FIFA club World Cup. I think they are maximising their return. But for Andrew Leong in Vanuatu, Tafea and myself and now Western United in Solomon Islands. I think I mean we are digging in and spending a lot but we don't see the return and I hope someday or sooner, OFC looks into a professional concept so that each person could look at a return in their organisation so that it becomes professional. So that we are not spending, we are not doing a lottery for a short space of time and we are spending half a million to a million dollars and we are giving away so much. And I think my challenge to OFC is that they listen. We need to become like A league, I mean I am sure Auckland would agree with me because we need returns as an organisation or else maybe someday. Maybe sooner it may be the end of the day for me, because I need to look back on what brings return whether it is football or any business of life. I think that is the comment that I am sending it forth to OFC that lets turn professional.
VINNIE WYLIE: You obviously feel though that to compete in the O league at the moment you need to put that investment in though otherwise you don't have a chance?
JKN: I mean yeah, exactly. I mean if you look at Amicale, if you look at Western United I mean they have brought in Foreign, international players. Auckland the infrastructure, the organisation is perfect, I mean the foreign players come and live there so you know. For us I am just saying because some of our national league are not very strong, the players are not up to, I mean Hekari our training regime is quite different that is why we have been the champions of Papua New Guinea for the last nine years. Almost to the tenth year, because our training regime and discipline is very, very high. So if I am going to spend money in a short space and time like I do in 2010 and continuously I think there is no return on my part as an investment. I mean obviously look at A league and look at other Champion Leagues around the world.
VW: Do you think a professional O League a professional Oceania tournament is feasible, is that something that you think would attract interest and fans and sponsors?
JKN: I think it is feasible because I think three years ago when I attended the OFC seminar and OFC says we are about to turn professional so, in terms of club licensing and all that you know. Everybody put their hands up and said we are ready for it. And all of a sudden that didn't work. I was in the FA of Papua New Guinea Football and I fully endorsed it and support that I said I am willing to invest. You know, my sponsors are willing to invest. And all of a sudden it didn't turn out that way.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: