Football Victoria appoints Chris Pehlivanis as new CEO

Chris Pehlivanis

Football Victoria (FV) has announced the appointment of Chris Pehlivanis as the organisation’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective January 22, 2024.

Pehlivanis will start the role of FV CEO following his four-year stint as CEO of Western United FC where he steered the club towards success through its infancy, winning an A-League Men Championship in just the third season of the club’s existence.

Under his guidance, Western also attained an A-League Women’s licence and reaching the Grand Final in the inaugural campaign, as well as successfully launching the WUFC Academy to create pathways for junior footballers in the West.

Pehlivanis worked at AFL Club Essendon as their Chief Financial Officer and boasts previous commercial leadership experience in the sports industry.

Pehlivanis expressed his desire to make impactful changes and shared his vision.

“I am honoured to be appointed CEO of Football Victoria. My vision to empower clubs, grow pathways, invest in infrastructure, establish a more connected football pyramid, and take the next steps in achieving 50:50 equity strongly aligns with the goals of the FV Board of Directors,” he said in a statement.

“Participation and interest in football has never been higher. It’s crucial for our organisation to evolve and find innovative ways to sustain the momentum in 2024 and beyond.”

Football Victoria President Antonella Caré expressed her excitement at the potential for the future under new CEO Chris Pehlivanis.

“We are thrilled to welcome Chris to Football Victoria. His leadership, strategic vision and deep understanding of our game make him the ideal CEO to take our organisation forward,” she added via media release.

“Chris has built an outstanding reputation for his professionalism and people-centric approach. He is a visionary who shares our core values and is passionate about building an inclusive, equitable and strong football ecosystem in Victoria.”

FV Director Nick Vamvakas was responsible for the intensive recruitment campaign they held and spoke about the decision to choose Pehlivanis for the future of football in the state.

“We spoke with more than 70 candidates directly and conducted multiple rounds of interviews. Ultimately, Chris was appointed based on his incredible track record as a sports administrator, his thorough understanding of the football landscape and his genuine desire to champion Football Victoria’s core values.” Vamvakas added via a statement.

Football Victoria went through a very lengthy recruitment process with a total of 111 submissions received, with FV targeting candidates from a broad range of professional backgrounds.

Football Victoria say that applicants were put through a series of interviews with alternate directors ensuring integrity was maintained throughout each recruitment phase.

Chris Pehlivanis replaces Interim CEO Karen Pearce OAM who will continue her role as Executive Manager Equity, Growth and Inclusion.

The decision was formally made at the Football Victoria Annual General Meeting on December 11.

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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