FOOTBALL Victoria is holding its nerve and continues to look positively towards the completion of the 2021 season.
FV CEO Kimon Taliadoros this week expressed confidence in the stewardship of the state government and Sport and Recreation Victoria despite the sport facing its second shutdown this season.
“I’m comfortable that we’re in good hands,” Taliadoros said.
“I feel that the state government and in particular sport and rec are now so well drilled that we can get the most out of this season that we possibly can.
“After working so closely with government and the local councils last year I feel that we are well placed to make sharp judgements but in the meantime all everyone can do is to monitor the numbers.”
There has been much conjecture as to how many games it will take for FV to make a call on the important promotion and relegation issues that didn’t come into play last year when the 2020 season was scrubbed.
While Taliadoros won’t be drawn into speculation over how many games would constitute a season there’s been talk that completing a minimum of 16 games in the 22-game season could suffice.
Currently most local clubs have played 13 games.
Mornington has played 12 but there’s a bye in State 1.
In State 2 Peninsula Strikers have played 12 games but have a game in hand (a postponed away fixture against Doncaster Rovers) while Somerville Eagles are the only local State 4 club to have only played 12 games due to a postponed away fixture against Sandown Lions.
The picture in State 5 is less clear as the fixtures have been disrupted by the withdrawal of Endeavour Hills while Mount Martha is the only club in that league to have played 13 games.
“The first thing we think about is the financial wellbeing of the clubs,” Taliadoros said.
“Once we feel comfortable about that then we can think about the integrity of the competition.
“The implications of lockdowns may prove to be significant but at this stage we remain confident that we can still complete a full season.
“After the last lockdown Football Victoria refixtured to ensure the season could be completed and that wasn’t the case with other sports.
“The challenge for us is how we manage the time available to us before the season switches to summer.
“That’s always a consideration for many community clubs – not so much NPL clubs – as they are obliged to hand over their grounds to summer sports and while that’s an opportunity for us to try and work with other sports it’s an enormous logistical challenge for us and really it’s only something we can do effectively when we have some certainty.”
In the worst case scenario that season 2021 becomes our sport’s Groundhog Day there is every reason to believe that FV and its 365 member clubs won’t be left teetering on the edge of a financial abyss.
“State government provided us with a substantial grant last year that effectively enabled us to survive financially and work through that complicated refund policy,” Taliadoros added.
“That ensured we could spread that money as far and as wide as we could in order to maximise its positive impact.
“If not for the government’s meaningful grant our sport and our football economy would be substantially weaker.
“The other thing government has been particularly good at is the speed at which they’ve acted to ensure we could operate in a COVID-safe environment.
“They’ve been really efficient in that area.”
But it’s not only state government that has offered a financial lifeline.
“The federal government subsidies came in the form of JobKeeper last year.
“That was meaningful as well for us so the combination of that and the state government grant was really significant.
“Our revenues dropped by almost 80 per cent and these initiatives enabled us to stand up for the 2021 season.”
Meanwhile in State 3 news league leader Frankston Pines was stunned by the impact of its recent social media announcement about the signing of Fijian international midfielder Nickel Chand.
The post reached 24,157 facebook accounts.
It also stimulated interest in Pines from five other Fijian players and two Nigerians who have played alongside Chand.
All are keen to join.
In State 4 news Zach Peddersen has returned to his role as director of football at Somerville Eagles.
The local club announced some off-field changes last week.
Peddersen retains the role of club secretary while Neil Wypior has joined Stan Packer as senior assistant to player-coach Dave Greening.
Nathan Brown will fill the goalkeeping coaching role vacated by Wypior.