Clubs await FV refund decision

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Top trio: Football Victoria president Kimon Taliadoros (left) with former Socceroo player and coach Ange Postecoglou (centre) and former Socceroo Josip Skoko. Picture: Anita Milas

SOCCER

FOOTBALL Victoria is expected to announce its fees refund policy this week.

Late last month the state federation posted a joint statement from president Kimon Taliadoros and CEO Peter Filopoulos.

The statement said that a refund policy would be based on a consultative process that engaged clubs in decision making.

“We are very close to finalising the FV refund policy for our portion of participants’ fees. Emergency committees of football stakeholders have been created to work through the incredibly complex matrix of issues. We are working with clubs to ensure their input in developing a reasonable, transparent and fair FV refund policy. Each individual club will need then to take into account their own circumstances when developing their own club refund policy.”

Since that statement was issued it’s understood that none of the 12 local NPL and State League clubs has had contact with FV on this matter.

Rosebud president Melissa Osorio was the only local club boss who refused to comment when asked if FV had been in touch concerning refunds.

FV’s inertia has forced many local clubs to take matters into their own hands.

“We’ve already started our refunds process for our community teams with no input from them (FV) or guidance,” Langwarrin president Tanya Wallace said. 

“It’s really hard but we couldn’t wait forever.”

Langy sent out an email to parents last week with three options: (1) to donate fees and get a brick with the player’s name on the clubroom wall, (2) to roll over fees to 2021, and (3) accept a refund less expenses already incurred (strip, equipment, etc).

Mornington, Skye United and Peninsula Strikers are among other clubs who have been offering refunds.

“Fortunately for the senior club we only had a couple paid up and those monies go towards next year’s fees as the lads weren’t interested in a refund,” Strikers president Adrian Scialpi said.

“We had no consultation with FV.”

Baxter president Bray Hodgkinson had a similar comment.

“Absolutely zero consultation with our club mate,” he said.

The FV statement also reinforced the governing body’s commitment to get some form of “competitive football happening before the end of 2020 provided it is safe to do so – it just might be in a different format than to what we have been accustomed to. Even though the situation changes week-to-week, we remain determined to get the ball rolling this year.”

It is unclear whether this refers specifically to the JBNPL but FV is yet to inform clubs about the fate of that elite junior boys’ competition in 2020.

Strikers vice-president Steve Schreck oversees the club’s junior NPL program and was dismissive of FV’s communication record.

“The last official junior boys’ NPL email was on 7 July and the last official FV correspondence was on 15 July. There’s been nothing since,” he said.

“Pretty sure that’s more than the three weeks they said they would have refund information in their last email.”

Meanwhile there has been action on the off-season front with FV’s football operations executive manager Will Hastie contacting NPL clubs via email to gauge interest in a proposed new competition.

Hastie’s email proposed an under-23 NPL competition held in spring/summer months pending state government approval of full contact sport at that time.

“While competition structure, rules of competition, eligibility rules (we would anticipate a limited amount of over-age players can play each week) are still to be determined, we see this as an excellent way to bridge the gap that has been created between the cancellation of the 2020 NPL senior men’s season and the commencement of football in 2021,” Hastie wrote.

Hastie’s proposal included “up to three over-age players eligible on the game day team sheet; a voluntary opt-in process for all clubs; establishment of two, geographically determined leagues being North West and South East (if there is enough interest, this may be four leagues being North, South, East and West to ensure travel is reduced for participants); potential for two games a week which would include a weekend and midweek fixture; and five substitutions to ensure high player rotations.”

Hastie was contacted about discussing his proposal but declined to do so.

The proposal received a lukewarm response from Langwarrin, the only local NPL senior club.

“The club isn’t comfortable at this time opting in or out as we don’t know how it will impact the season, pre-season and trial period for 2021,” Tanya Wallace said.

“It’s (calling for) an expression of interest but again lacks any insight or understanding into the potential implication for next year.”

There was no mention of costs in the proposal.

An off-season competition proposal is expected to be rolled out to State League clubs in coming weeks.

In other news a multimillion dollar facilities investment was announced by the state government last weekend.

Just over $4.9 million in grants has been secured for 13 projects through the World Game Facilities Fund allowing upgrades for some of the state’s most critical soccer facilities.

The fund is a state government initiative that assists local soccer clubs and organisations to upgrade existing or develop new facilities across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

It has invested $9.9 million in 38 infrastructure projects since 2018 with a total project value of $25.5 million.

Last weekend’s announcement was lauded by FV bosses.

“This significant funding will immediately go towards the biggest problem we have in football – our lack of proper facilities to cater for the thousands of Victorians who want to play our sport,” FV CEO Filopoulos said.

“The Andrews Government has listened to the football community. They’ve shown a commitment that has turned into real action, the kind of which is going to deliver real outcomes for the people who participate in our sport.”

The CEO’s comments were echoed by Taliadoros.

“When it comes to facility investment, our clubs have been crying out to us from day one and we promised to work with the Victorian Government to deliver the outcomes our sport needs. That’s what the World Game Facilities Fund is all about,” he said.

“We are a long way from the finish line, but the commitments made are giving us a real chance of securing the extra 420 full-size equivalent pitches we need by 2026 to meet the demands of the football community.”

Grants of up to $500,000 will be made to councils to improve facilities including lighting, turf pitch redevelopments, synthetic pitches and female-friendly change rooms.

Victorian Minister for Community Sport Ros Spence said the funding was about giving the sport the backing it deserved.

“We’re on the hunt for the next Sam Kerr or Tim Cahill and we’re all inspired by what our Matildas have achieved already – this funding will give grassroots football the support it deserves.

“We’re making sure that women and men, and girls and boys, of all abilities have the facilities they need to play the sports they love.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 25 August 2020

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