Anthony Di Pietro retires as Melbourne Victory Chairman

Anthony Di Pietro has announced that he is retiring as the Chairman of Melbourne Victory FC, following the completion of the 2022/23 season.

Di Pietro has spent 18 years as a Director and 13 seasons in the position of Chairman for Melbourne Victory, as will now step away from official Club duties.

Di Pietro advised the Board and staff on Thursday morning that due to upcoming business commitments and confidence in Victory’s platform for growth, they were the deciding factors for his decision.

Di Pietro – who will still remain a major shareholder – thanked the Club, its staff, players, members, fans, partners, sponsors and fellow shareholders for their support since inception.

“Since joining our Board in 2006, we have enjoyed many highs and battled many challenges along the journey,” Di Pietro stated via press release.

“Whilst this season’s on-field performances did not yield trophies, or come close to our expectations, we are standing on a strong platform for the future.

“Melbourne Victory is now part of an international strategic partnership through 777 Partners with our Men’s and Women’s pathway programs linked from the grassroots to an international level.

“Our ability to recruit players, coaches and support staff is in the best position it has ever been and our community programs are the most comprehensive we have seen, with a focus to live our vision of leading, uniting, connecting and inspiring through football.

“Most importantly we continue to herald inclusion and diversity in football, which can be seen through our support and investment in the Afghan Women’s Team – which is something every member of the Melbourne Victory family should be proud of.

“Like families, we all have great times and challenging periods, but when we all stick together as proud Victory people, we know we will come out the other side bigger and better.

“This is a unique Club and I have met and worked with some fantastic people, all of whom have shaped Melbourne Victory and I’ll forever be grateful for the privilege of being a part of the Club’s journey.

“Melbourne Victory has been integral to my family and my life for 18 years and my family and I will continue to be dedicated members and fans. I will always be a strong supporter of the Board, management and Club.”.

Victory’s Managing Director Caroline Carnegie thanked Di Pietro for his leadership, investment and drive.

“As a Club, Melbourne Victory could not be more thankful for the dedication, service and commitment that the Chairman has provided to us all over the course of the past 18 seasons,” Carnegie added via press release.

“The amount of work and time, let alone passion, which goes into being the Chair of a Club like Victory cannot be underestimated and there will be no other Anthony Di Pietro.

“The Chairman, along with his family, have had an amazing journey and shaped and moulded this Club into the powerhouse we know and love.

“We are grateful that the Chairman will continue to be part of our boys and girls in blue as a major shareholder, albeit stepping away from his official Club duties.”

Under Di Pietro’s leadership, the Club has achieved:

  • Two A-League Men’s Championships
  • One A-League Men’s Premiership
  • Two Australia Cups (formerly FFA Cup)
  • A history making treble
  • Three A-League Women’s Championships (including back-to-back Championships in 2021 and 2022)
  • An A-League Women’s Premiership
  • Hosted international heavyweights including Liverpool, Manchester United and Juventus
  • Developed one of the strongest and most prolific community departments of any sports Club in Australia
  • Introduced the Afghan Women’s Team to the Club’s football structure
  • Returned the Club to its home at AAMI Park
  • Secured the future of Melbourne Victory through an historic sports investment partnership with the 777 Group.

John Dovaston has been appointed as the new Club Chair, replacing Di Pietro effective immediately.

Dovaston is the Current Director and has been an independent board member for eight years – he will be Melbourne Victory’s first independent, non-shareholder, Chairperson.

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Premier League continues talks on cost control and EFL funding

Premier League club bosses are holding further talks regarding cost control measures for clubs competing in European football and additional funding for the EFL.

The top flight is examining the introduction of a model along similar lines to UEFA’s squad cost ratio, which by 2025-26 will cap the spending of clubs involved in European competitions on wages, transfer fees and agent costs at 70 per cent of revenue.

It is understood that clubs in the Premier League not competing in European competitions will be allowed more leeway on spending, with a ratio of around 85 per cent of revenue having been discussed. This is potentially to ensure a more level playing field for mid table Premier League clubs who are struggling to break that barrier.

There is a major roadblock, however, in these talks with relegated Premier League clubs still earning parachute payments in their first season back in the Championship and being able to continue working to the 85 per cent ratio whilst the bottom half Championship clubs are working on a much tighter budget, closer to the 70 per cent UEFA mark.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters spoke about these talks advancing and what it means for the future of both leagues.

“We have some proposals out for consultation with our clubs about moving and aligning more with the UEFA system,” Masters said at the Culture, Media and Sport committee.

“Some of the issues that are still at debate between the EFL and the Premier League and internally within the Premier League itself are about trying to find a resolution on exactly how the financial regulatory system will work in the future.

“There’s an area of disagreement between us on how cost controls are going to work. Because obviously if you’re going to put more money into a system, that system has to be properly regulated. That system has yet to be fully agreed on how Championship clubs, how relegated clubs and how Premier League clubs operate a common system.” he concluded.

In terms of the extra funding agreement being discussed, EFL Chairman Rick Parry announced that his competition was prepared to accept an amount that would equate to 14.75 per cent of the two competitions’ net media revenues, which he said worked out at an extra £125million ($240 million) a year.

Whilst this is a huge positive for the footballing ladder in England, there is still a debate amongst clubs and representatives over how the extra funding to the EFL should be paid out.

Recently relegated sides are already working on a bigger budget, whilst sides in the bottom half are struggling to pay player wages with this disparity being completely unacceptable.

So it definitely begs the question, does majority of the extra £125million ($240 million) a year go towards helping bottom clubs compete in the long term? or would that be a stain on the league’s integrity and fair play values?

Votes were not casted in last week’s meetings regarding cost control measures or extra funding, but reports suggest that a conclusion is being made swiftly with both parties eager to agree on a fair deal.

MLS NEXT Pro continues to expand with Connecticut United addition

Connecticut United FC joins MLS Next Pro

Connecticut (CT) United FC will join the ever-growing MLS NEXT Pro League in 2025, in a move that promises to reinvigorate the US state through investment in football infrastructure.

CT United becomes the fifth independent team to join US football’s third-tier national competition, which serves as a valuable development tool for young players at the 27 existing Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs.

It joins teams from Jacksonville, Florida and Chattanooga – who were recently announced by the MLS NEXT organisation.

Chattanooga FC have been competing at state-level for 15 years, allowing it to join the competition in 2024 alongside fellow independent club, Carolina Core FC.

Jacksonville Armada are expected to enter alongside CT United and a team from Cleveland, Ohio, in 2025.

The nucleus of CT United’s football operation will be based in Connecticut’s capital city, Bridgeport, after its Planning and Zoning Commission approved a project for a waterfront football-specific stadium.

The stadia will be a part of a larger infrastructure plan to create a mixed-use destination for retail, residential, and community zones. Bridgeport’s Mayor, Joseph Ganim, says the city is ready to drive the project.

“Bridgeport is in the midst of a renaissance, rebranding from an industrial city to now the capital of arts and entertainment of Connecticut,” he said via media release.

“I am proud to announce that MLS NEXT Pro will join that landscape in providing entertainment opportunities for Bridgeport residents and the region at large.”

The club’s formation represents the first foray into sports ownership for the Connecticut Sports Group (CTSG), an organisation founded and led by Connecticut local and technology entrepreneur, André Swanston.

Though in its infant stages, the organisation relies primarily upon its partnership with the University of Connecticut, and minor investors within the state.

Swanston, 42, becomes not just one of the youngest principal owners of a football club in the country, but also making a difference as one of the few Black sports owners in US sport overall.

“As CT United FC embarks on its MLS NEXT Pro journey, I want to extend deep gratitude to the incredible fans, community leaders and government officials who have embraced our vision – I am confident that, united, Connecticut can compete against anyone,” he proclaimed via press release.

“We are committed to building the infrastructure – from a free youth academy to a state-of-the-art stadium – needed to propel Connecticut to the highest levels of soccer.”

The formation of CT United represents an exciting prospect for the people of Connecticut, who will be eager to see CTSG deliver on its vision to ‘create unforgettable experiences that inspire communities.’

It also showcases Major League Soccer’s continuing expansion, and intent to re-invigorate communities across North America.

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