With Morobe Wawens due to travel to Port Moresby this weekend to face Star Mountain in the sixth round of Papua New Guinea National Soccer League fixtures, Oceania Football Center reports exclusively that the side have failed to make the journey to the nation’s capital due to a dispute over travel funds and outstanding payments.
Wawens’ vice-president Peter Seske released an angry statement on social media earlier today claiming that the NSL had failed to make the funds available for their trip to Port Moresby due to an outstanding payment from the previous season which has not yet been settled.
“Morobe Wawens was instructed by the NSL board to meet its own team travel cost to Port Moresby for the round 6 match against Star Mountain FC,” Seske said. “Wawens has paid the full registration fee for this season, yet the NSL has disqualified the club because of an outstanding debt of K35,000 from last season.”
Seske is thought to be angry particularly because it is unclear how the NSL will punish the clubs which still owe funds from the previous season, but which are not taking part in this year’s NSL competition, as well as the decision to punish a club this season for last season’s outstanding funds.
Seske also wrote that the club will be appealing for a wash-out of the fixture, rather than a forfeiture, so that it might be arranged for another date before the end of the season. It is unclear whether the NSL board will agree to this.
Seske’s anger may be very real, but there are always two sides to the story: as early as November 2019, the NSL board came out ahead of the new season with a tough stance against outstanding payments. As reported in the Post Courier on 28 November, the secretariat said that “defaulters from last season have been informed to pay the outstanding fees, including this season’s fees,” taking a strong stance with a ‘no pay, no play’ motto. It could be argued that the NSL are merely making good on that promise.
There’s likely more to come on this story, and questions are still to be answered: how long have Morobe Wawens been aware that they wouldn’t receive funding this weekend? Are there any other clubs that still have outstanding payments? We expect a comment from the PNGFA and NSL office in the coming days.
Above all, we hope the fans who made the journey to the Sir John Guise Stadium this weekend are not too disappointed, and that they are able to witness an excellent game of football between FC Bougainville and Lae City later this afternoon.