What place and purpose does the Victorian Premier League serve? How does it fit into the big picture of Australian soccer? And how should it be managed going forward?

Last week I noted the reduction in public interest, the lack of sponsorship and the resulting danger of clubs putting themselves into serious financial difficulty if they continue along their current path. Unsustainability. A watchword for soccer in Australia. Many in the state league believe that everything is fine. This is how it’s always been, this is how it always shall be. In the A-League they sing from the same song sheet. Everything is fine, we’ll get our money one day – don’t worry about the debts we’re building up, both financially and in terms of good will, they will all be cleared if we can just hold on long enough.

In the case of the A-League, they can at least look at the prospect of a new TV deal, and if that includes a free-to-air component, they can look for greater sponsorship revenue. In the case of our community clubs there are no such magic wands to be waved. We’re on our own. Our clubs need to fit into the bigger picture in order to get help from above – and this is where the problems really begin for us. The FFA doesn’t need us.

Correction, they don’t want us. Our clubs are beyond their control, and are therefore undesirable. This is a huge pity, because if they were to work with our clubs we could provide the basis for a national competition which would support the A-League and improve player development. The FFA’s position is quite clear. So it’s the job of local sides, whether in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane, to prove how useful we could be.

We need to lower prices and provide more entertainment for families to encourage more supporters into our grounds. A few thousand in a small stadium provides a great atmosphere and is a great image for the game at any level. Witness the Oakleigh vs South finals fixture last year- a few thousand, but what a night. And no trouble. Do that every week and the FFA would have to take notice. Boardmembers of our clubs need to embrace the A-League – not as supporters, but as business partners. There is still an almost comical hostility between some at VPL level and the A-League.

So long as we lack the opportunity to play against them, they are not our rivals, and should be treated the same way we treat the AFL or NRL. Another world. Hostility is unattractive, it turns people away who might otherwise follow both leagues. The clubs must work together, with or without the state federations, to come up with a co-ordinated plan that will enable a higher quality of competition to take place, with a lower risk to the individual clubs – because it’s not us against them, it’s often us against us. We can be the second division the game needs by working hard: and we can do it without going broke. And we must do it, if we want to stay alive and relevant.

In the meantime, you can follow my random rants on Twitter @JimSpiropoulos