Brisbane Roar announce trio of General Manager appointments

Brisbane Roar

Brisbane Roar has announced that Matt Smith and Ante Kovacevic have joined the club as General Managers.

The Roar have also appointed long-serving employee Rizka Laya as General Manager – Club Services, which will effectively see Laya, Smith and Kovacevic combine as a General Manager trio going forward.

The appointments reaffirm Brisbane Roar’s commitment to adding senior executive resources to develop both the Club’s football and administration departments.

Smith will oversee marketing, communications, and membership activities in his role as General Manager – Commercial. The former Brisbane Roar captain is known for playing 112 games for the Club, including winning three Isuzu UTE A-League Championships. He also has a strong background in marketing holding a Bachelor’s in Marketing and Leisure Management from the University of Gloucestershire.

Smith also holds a Master’s in Sport Management from Hartpury University and has an extensive football development pedigree from his roles as Football Director, NPL Technical Director and First Team Head Coach at Brisbane City for the past three years.

Smith is excited to be back with the Brisbane Roar as the Club restructures.

“I was extremely privileged to be part of the Club’s amazing successes in the past and look forward to creating history in the future,” he said via press release.

“Since I left the Club in 2014, I’ve always been keeping a close eye on the team and how they’ve been playing as well as the club and its progress.

“I’m excited to play a key role in trying to continue to build the Club and I’m looking forward to working with the staff and different communities involved with Brisbane Roar.

“When I was a player, the culture and environment at the Club was one of inclusiveness and good people, so I think a key role is to form an environment and culture people are proud to be associated with.

“The internal and external stakeholders are pushing for one goal and I’m very confident that with the restructure the Club has started to initiate that there are good times ahead.”

Kovacevic’s appointment to General Manager – Club will see him bring a wealth of experience and expertise.

Joining the Roar from Western United Football Club, where he was the General Manager of Football, Kovacevic has also overseen Football Operations at Perth Glory (2009-2015) and was the General Manager of Football at Adelaide United (2015-2019).

While at Adelaide, Kovacevic was part of their A-League Championship in 2015/16 as well as the Australia Cup in 2018 and 2019.

During his playing career, Kovacevic enjoyed spells at National Soccer League teams Melbourne Knights, Adelaide City FC, and South Melbourne FC. The introduction of the A-League in 2005 saw Kovacevic sign with Perth Glory, where he made 32 appearances.

On his appointment, Kovacevic is rapt to have joined Brisbane Roar.

“I am excited to have joined Brisbane Roar, a club that has proven it can be successful on and off the field. This is where we want to see it headed in the near future” Kovacevic said via press release.

Kovacevic will review all football systems at the Club to build and improve upon what is currently in place while ensuring all areas of the football department continue to operate effectively.

“Queensland has a great number of footballers playing the game and has always managed to produce quality footballers for the NPL, A-Leagues and National teams. We want to continue to ensure the Brisbane Roar is an integral part to this development system and work together with all football stakeholders,” Kovacevic said via the Roar.

Laya has been a familiar face at Brisbane Roar for almost a decade, and her appointment to a General Manager role is set to continue strengthening the Club’s administrative and club services.

As the Club’s longest serving employee, she will continue to manage game operations and back-office administrative services that support the Club’s operation and governance systems, providing important support across the football department.

Laya is looking forward to the opportunity to take on this new challenge.

“I am grateful that the club noticed my efforts after working hard over the years. This is an exciting opportunity for me, and I am looking forward to taking on the responsibilities and making the most of it,” she said via press release.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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