1. Football South Australia (FSA) Media release 11 May 2023.
2. South Australia Association Soccer League (SAASL) media release 17 May 2023.
3. SAASL Club President’s message release 22 May 2023.
Message From: President of SAFRA
In the past, when Bill Bailey and Alex Cichanowski were overseeing SAASL games on Saturday and
Sunday, all matches were covered by SAASRA now known as SAFRA.
So, what has changed since that era?
Up until the end of season 2018, SAFRA was fully funded by SAASL. When George Fotopoulos took
over as president of SAASL, SAFRA's funding was withdrawn. SAASL has informed SAFRA that the
association needed to be self-funded, and the decision was final with no further negotiation needed.
The SAFRA executive did explain to SAASL that the withdrawal of funding support would cause a
massive increase in the referees‘ membership fees, which eventually would have an effect on match
officials’ enrolment to the association. That assumption by SAFRA management was proven to be
true and correct. In 2019, SAFRA lost about 30% of the membership due to the fee hike. The only
fund that SAASL provided SAFRA (in 2020 and 2021 seasons) was the subsidy of $90 to any new
referee joining SAFRA. The fund provided is partially covering the cost of a new referee’s uniform.
Back in 2019, SAFRA membership fee was estimated to be 50% lower than what FSA was charging.
The membership numbers at that period were around 80 active members. With SAASL’s decision to
revoke the funding support, SAFRA had no choice but to increase the membership fees by 25% more
than FSA (in order to keep up with cost incurred by SAFRA). This fee change has brought negative
reaction. SAFRA membership was dramatically reduced to less than 60 members. Since season 2019,
SAFRA was unable to fill all games in division 4 in lieu of the decrease in number of registered
In 2020 soccer season was challenging for all involved. In lieu of Covid, SAFRA was informed by SAASL
that clubs were unable to pay the usual/normal referees fees. Instead, SAFRA referees were asked to
support the league by accepting a reduce match fee of $50 per game. Despite the massive reduction
in the match fee, SAFRA supported the league’s decision with little to no resistance from members.
Also, in 2021 season, to ensure every referee in SAFRA received the desired skills and knowledge,
SAFRA had sent its referees to attend certified level 4, 3, and 2 referee courses organised by FSA. The
cost was fully covered by SAFRA with no support from SAASL (Level 4: $120 per person, Level 3: $60
per person, and Level 2: $90 per person). The aim of the certification and re-certification was to
ensure that every referee officiating SAASL games were competent and performing at the level
expected of the league.
For season 2022, SAASL collected around $16,000 from referee levy. Unfortunately, not a cent was
given to SAFRA to use for referee development and recruitment initiatives. However, in 2023, this
referee levy was allocated to club referee training which was not the case when SAFRA was working
with SAASL in the past.
Termination of service between SAASL and SAFRA
On 25 November 2022, SAFRA management and members received a bombshell from FSA thru an
email sent by the Executive Assistant to FSA CEO, Michael Carter, that FSA will be appointing match
officials directly for SAASL matches. The news caught everyone at SAFRA by surprise. In SAFRA
agreement with FSA, it was agreed that SAFRA was SAASL’s referee body to support SAASL’s
tournament and appointing referee to all the club games. The separation between SAFRA and SAASL
has brought a lot of grief to SAFRA referees who had been loyal to the two associations. Majority of
the referees who chose not to register in 2023 felt disappointed at the way how SAFRA was treated.
As President of SAFRA, I was notified via a phone call from FSA’s Operations Manager, George
Georganas, of the change. At no time did SAASL management try to contact SAFRA management to
inform of the new arrangement. FSA did not meet with SAFRA until Monday 20 February 2023,
where it was all confirmed by FSA that SAASL no longer required SAFRA service, and that FSA would
now appoint all referees on behalf of SAASL. In addition, FSA confirmed that the agreement signed
between FSA and SAFRA earlier was null and void or terminated.
The first contact SAFRA management members received from SAASL was on 14 March 2023, six
months after SAASL made their decision to get FSA to appoint referees to all SAASL games (see
George Fotopoulos’s email attached). In light of SAASL’s president statement on Agostino Bivone
involvement with the clubs (on the 22 May 2023, which was incorrect), SAFRA can confirm that
Agostino is no longer a member of SAFRA’s management committee.
SAFRA’s interest in officiating in the league
To keep the referees (those not registered with FSA) engaged and stay reference to the game, SAFRA
is currently appointing this pool of referees to school games. SAFRA has a keen interest (if fully
funded) and confident to fill all games from the premier down to Division 4 on Saturday and Sunday
within SAASL. In long, short, SAFRA are more than happy to return as the amateur league’s referee
body provided that the clubs are still keen on hiring SAFRA referee services. Happy to engage in
further conversation/discussion if necessary.
President of SAFRA
23rd May 2023