Football NSW continue to work towards on-field return

Football NSW, in conjunction with the NSW government has announced that community sport in the state should be recommencing on July 1.

The date has been confirmed by both Football NSW and the government. However, despite how well Australia has been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still a risk of a second wave and we all still need to be cautious.

In an email sent on Tuesday, Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge reassured the public that normality is edging ever closer and that restrictions for community clubs are being eased.

“Together with your Associations and Clubs, we have all worked hard planning formats and preparing match fixtures for a revised 2020 winter football season. With this in mind, on 25 May 2020, Football NSW submitted to the NSW Government a request for an exemption to the Public Health Order to allow all football to recommence playing matches in early July.

Whilst today’s announcement provides a welcome green light for the restart of junior and youth football, the return date for senior football remains unset. I want to reassure you that we are doing everything on your behalf to get clarity as to what that date will be. I know that many teams have commenced training and, like you, I am keen to get everyone back playing as soon as possible”, Hodge stated.

Hodge and Football NSW made four key statements regarding the return to football. These are as follows:

• That the return to sport would be subject to specific Guidelines – Understandably, there are still risks and although a second wave is appearing unlikely, the NSW government will not want to rush into any decisions on something that they may see as ‘non-essential’.

• Training can take place in groups of ten, observing stated social distancing and other measures – Football NSW’s ‘Return to Training’ guidelines stated this two weeks ago and as of the time of writing, it is the same. Although restrictions are being eased every week, training groups are capped at ten for the time being.

• Training is NOT restricted to children – Community clubs with high-level senior teams are now able to resume formal training. This is hopefully the first step in getting the NPLNSW back into action very soon.

• Competitions for players aged 18 and under can commence from 1 July 2020 – Perhaps the biggest news story out of this press release, competitions are on the verge of returning by the end of the month. With senior teams now training regularly, one must consider whether one month’s preparation will be enough for the players heading into the season. The isolation has essentially been a second off-season for players.

You can find Stuart Hodge’s full statement via this link:

In this time, news of this sort can only be viewed as positive. The more state competitions that begin to open up and start working towards a restart, the better.

After initial concerns regarding potential starting dates, it seems that Football NSW has opened up to the idea of restarting their season soon. Which is great to see.

There will still be concerns and that is completely understandable. At a time when we seem to be over the worst, we need to see it through to the end. In saying that, we need to be prepared for when complete normality arises and it seems as if we’re on that track.

Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Acun Medya Group secures Hull City takeover

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, headed by Acun Ilicali.

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, for a fee in the reported region of $37 million AUD.

Acun Ilicali, a 52-year-old businessman and owner of Acun Medya Group, was introduced to fans at the MKM Stadium prior to the club’s 2-0 win at home over Blackburn Rovers.

The takeover brings the controversial ownership of the Allam family to an end, much to the delight of fans after a roller coaster 11 years in charge.

Despite overseeing two promotions to the Premier League, an FA Cup Final and Hull’s first-ever foray into a European competition through the UEFA Europa League in 2014, the Allam family became increasingly unpopular with the fans.

The unpopularity of the Allam family is due to many different reasons, however it all started when the family proposed a name change to ‘Hull Tigers’ back in 2013. The move was ultimately blocked by authorities a year later, which frustrated the Allams and they then put the club up for sale, straining the relationship with fans and seeing a decline in attendances at home fixtures.

The new ownership will look to win back supporters and turn the negative tide.

Acun Medya Group Owner, Acun Ilicali:

“I am happy that I have fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City. We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans,” he said.

Outgoing Vice-Chairman Ehab Allam:

“During our tenure, we have worked hard to create a sustainable model and successful academy set-up, giving the club the foundations it needs for the future,” he said.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the last 11 years or so, but we will take some very fond memories with us… We have taken a very business-led approach to running the club and I truly hope Acun can rebuild the relationship with the fanbase and also bring back the success on the pitch that fans crave and deserve.”

Hertha Berlin pushing hard for stadium upgrade

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to the Olympiastadion.

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to its current home, the Olympiastadion, releasing fresh renderings of its vision for such a project.

The club has been attempting to progress plans to develop a new home for several years and in February 2020 stated that the OlympiaPark would be the preferred location.

In November 2018, Hertha confirmed it was targeting an opening date in July 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with preference to be building a completely new stadium rather than renovating the current one.

The current Olympiastadion has been home to Hertha Berlin for almost 60 years, and has a capacity of around 74,000. However, the club is seeking a more intimate stadium for its fans, as well as the inclusion of an athletics track.

Hertha’s former stadium commissioner, Klaus Teichert, withdrew an application for a decision to be made on the location for a new stadium, with Brandenburg also put forward as a potential location.

Hertha Berlin Chief Financial Officer, Ingo Schiller:

“We have entered into talks with the new government and are working hard to set the course for our new stadium in 2022,” he said.

“The stadium is the club’s most important project, especially in terms of the economic situation.”

There is a lot of political support necessary for the project to get approved, as the potential worksite currently includes residential apartments, a big reason for negotiations coming to a stall at times.

A resident spoke to local radio station rbb24:

“You talk about ir, but not with us. We are still not prepared to sell our apartments in Sportforumstraße or to negotiate about them,” they said.

“It is very unfortunate that our residents in Sportforumstraße are once again unsettled by this uncoordinated approach.”

Hertha Berlin and backers of the new stadium have been in negotiation with Berlin’s sports senator, Iris Spranger, with talks to continue over the next month.

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