Football Victoria short-lists bidders for national Home of the Matildas

In a statement made this week, Football Victoria announced the short list of bidders to secure the rights to be the national home of Australia’s senior women’s squad, the Matildas.

The Matildas, now tearing it up in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, have been in need of a permanent base for some time.

The short list includes La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus as well as the municipalities of Darebin, Casey, Brimbank and Maroondah.

The press release can be found below in full:

The establishment of the proposed national Home of the Matildas has moved a step closer with Football Victoria nominating five locations as the potential base for the state-of-the-art facility.

The short-list comprises the municipalities of Brimbank, Casey, Darebin, and Maroondah, along with La Trobe University as part of redevelopment plans at its Bundoora campus.

The process now moves into the next stage of discussions with the respective municipalities and/or landowners, as part of a feasibility study underway to determine the preferred location for what will also serve as the State Home of Football. Concept plans and cost estimates will be developed once a preferred site has been identified.

Football Victoria received $200,000 from the Victorian Government for the feasibility study, along with a $15 million commitment from the Federal Government towards construction.

Football Victoria CEO, Peter Filopoulos, said the sport would continue to work closely with governments at all levels to create a dedicated, world-class facility that would be a “game-changer for women’s football in Australia and across the Asia region”.

“Just as the Matildas are doing Australia proud on the world stage, it’s incumbent on us as a nation to provide them the high-performance home base that will help them stay at the forefront of international football and ensure the game keeps developing the stars of tomorrow”, he said.

Among a range of features, it is proposed that the Home of the Matildas would include elite training facilities to cater for the senior and emerging Matildas programs, including leading-edge medical and sports science facilities, strength and conditioning areas, an aquatic zone, indoor futsal facilities, and offices for FFA/FV technical staff. It is also proposed that the facility would house a training and education hub for non-playing roles including specialist programs for girls and women as coaches, referees and club administrators.

“The creation of a national Home of the Matildas will go a long way towards helping the game in Victoria meet our stated objective of 50:50 gender participation by 2027.”

Today’s announcement comes as the Westfield Matildas move to the knock-out stage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Football Federation Australia, with the support of the Commonwealth Government, is bidding to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

*ENDS*

Where would you like to see the Matildas call home/base of operations?

Feel free to discuss this on social media, it’s an interesting scenario, that’s for sure.

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

“Women’s Football Transformed” – NewCo ready to propel women’s professional football in the UK

Last November, the English Football Association (FA) revealed it would no longer be running the English Women’s Super League (WSL) and English Women’s Championship, handing the reins to a newly-formed independent organisation, NewCo.

Relatively unknown and tipped for a name-change, NewCo is led by Canadian-born CEO Nikki Doucet, a former General Manager for Nike UK/Ireland who is well versed in the world of finance and sport.

Slowly but surely, the football world is learning more about the company, its CEO, and its plans to propel the WSL and Championship to new heights.

In a statement outlining NewCo’s vision, CEO Nikki Doucet stated the company “will be a revenue-generating, for profit, standalone entity with a professional and dedicated management team.”

The 24 member clubs of the WSL and Championship will be recognised as shareholders of the organisation.

Further to this, Doucet expressed her gratitude for the FA’s role in building professional football for women, and NewCo’s intent for the future.

“They [the FA] have belief in the women’s game and have funded the proof of concept for women’s football in this country and now we’re at a stage where it’s set up to be a standalone entity to capitalise on the growth and opportunity in front of us,” she explained via the FA website.

The WSL’s primary sponsor, Barclays, is halfway through its £30 million ($58 million AUD) investment deal in women’s football that will end in 2025.

Whilst it is NewCo’s desire to maintain relationships with existing sponsors like Barclays, there is an expectation to attract new investment

Media speculation suggests that the Premier League has approved a loan of £20 million ($38 million AUD), that will be repayable once NewCo records £100 million in annual revenue ($193 million AUD).

Speaking to Sky News, Premier League Chief Richard Masters stated that if approved, the loan would symbolise an important relationship between the top tiers of men’s and women’s football in the UK.

The loan will also breathe confidence into clubs, of which some have called for league restructuring to alleviate financial pressure.

NewCo shut down speculation over the potential for the WSL to become a closed league in January, re-stating its “100%” commitment to promotion and relegation between the top two tiers.

Talks over broadcasting rights for the WSL and Championship are also underway, with existing deals between Sky Sports and the BBC concluding at the end of the 23/24 season.

At the conclusion of the 22/23 WSL season, research driven by the Women’s Sport Trust (WST) showed a 36% season–on–season increase in match viewership in the UK.

Given this major increase in viewership, and popularity of women’s football generally, one expects that Sky Sports and the BBC will renegotiate a new deal.

Likely competitors will be TNT (formerly BT Sport), and streaming service Amazon Prime, who have dipped their toes in the water with Premier League coverage in the past two seasons.

Whether a new deal will affect international viewership, particularly in Australia via streaming platform Optus Sport, remains to be known. However, Doucet has made it clear that increasing its audience network is a key goal.

“Reach and revenue is the thing that we’re trying to figure out,” she told reporters.

“I think, more than anything, it should just be as easy as possible for fans to be able to watch the league or the team or the player that they want to watch. How we can do that is what we’re exploring.”

League breakaways, particularly those in favour of profit-driven, independently-run entities, are often fraught with controversy across football’s many sub-sectors.

However, in keeping with the transparent and widely forward-thinking approach of women’s football, NewCo’s takeover of the WSL and Championship could take the development of professional women’s football to the next level.

Women’s football transformed is the tagline underpinning NewCo’s vision for the WSL and Championship, and Doucet offers no shortage in imagination for what it hopes to achieve.

“In 10 years from now, I hope you’re asking me questions around things like how do I get off the waiting list for tickets to WSL games, so we’ll have stadiums at top capacity, all the top players wanting to come here,” she proclaimed.

“I want to be answering questions around elite female athlete health and how that has transformed ‘high street’ physiotherapy. I want you to look at an all-female team and the first thing that goes through your head is “wow, that’s a high performing team’ with no hesitation.”

Further announcements about NewCo’s plans will be eagerly anticipated, as the current WSL and Championship seasons’ near their conclusion.

Samantha Farrow becomes the new CEO of Capital Football

Capital Football have confirmed that Samantha Farrow is the new Chief Executive Officer, effective from Monday, February 12.

Samantha arrives in Canberra with nearly 10 years’ experience as CEO at Surf Life Saving NT, previously, Samantha held key talent identification positions at the Australian Sports Commission in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Despite her lesser involvement in football, Farrow has experience in sports administration and community engagement as well as working closely with key stakeholders to build significant growth and improvements to the organisations she has worked for.

Samantha Farrow explained that she has a huge role to play in the potential growth of football in the capital.

“I would describe myself as an open approachable person, with a strong belief in community who loves to pursue a challenge. I know the task ahead is one that holds a great deal of interest to so many participants and supporters of the game here in ACT. I look forward to making a positive contribution to all involved,” she said in a Capital Football statement.

Capital Football chair, Angelo Konstantinou expressed his excitement at the new appointment and fresh start for Capital Football.

“We are delighted to have Samantha leading the office into the next exciting chapter. There’s so much going on, and so much to look forward too.” he added in a statement.

“We can’t wait to work alongside Samantha as the game continues to grow in the region. The Board would like to thank David Palywoda and the Capital Football staff who continued to remain committed to the running the office and all our functions under difficult circumstances over the past few months, we are grateful to them all.”

A huge task for Farrow will be the completion of the Home of Football in Throsby. On the 22nd of July, 2023, the Estate Development Plan for the $33.5 million Throsby Home of Football project was approved. Construction is scheduled to start in 2024 and the delays it has experienced so far since its initial plan in 2019 has been a big issue for Canberra United’s recruitment and the state’s football development.

Canberra United, who currently sit last in the A-League Women’s competition, are the only professional football team in the state and they currently play their home games in McKellar Park before they eventually move into Throsby.

Farrow will also have to weigh up the prospect of putting in another bid for a capital expansion team in the A-League Men’s competition after Auckland edged them out of the latest spot last November.

This appointment could certainly prove to be a substantial one and the federation has opted to go with Farrow’s experience to steer the ship and help football significantly grow in the state on all levels.

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