New grandstand to complement Preston Lions FC in National Second Tier push

As announced by Football Australia, 26 clubs had progressed to the Request for Proposal (RFP) phase of the National Second Tier competition.

The RFP phase will involve the distribution of comprehensive Bid Documents to the shortlisted clubs, including an information memorandum, NST related data, financial forecasts, key terms of a Club Participation Agreement, and draft transaction documents.

This phase will be conducted confidentially, running from May to July 2023.

One of the clubs that have progressed through to this stage, and one considered to be one of the premium clubs outside of the A-League, is Preston Lions FC.

Preston’s President, David Cvetkovski, is confident that the National Second Tier will be good for Australian football and doesn’t foresee too many issues in regards to the cost of transition to a professional league for his own club.

“We have five key revenue pillars for Preston that I believe every club should have,” he said.

“You need to be strong in the key pillars of sponsorship, gameday (ticketing, food + drink), merchandise, membership and events.

“When you put the five elements together, they are five critical revenue streams for every club in the world, regardless of scale.

“If we get that right, we will succeed.”

Preston average some of the largest crowds in the NPL at their home of BT Connor Reserve, outdrawing some A-League teams on a consistent basis.

Cvetkovski highlighted facility upgrades and the relationship the club has with the local council as important measures for clubs hoping to transition into a National Second Division.

“We are constantly in touch with council, we have an incredible relationship with the City of Darebin and they are aware of our aspirations,” he said.

“We’ve strategically put a lot of work into the facility in the last few years, resurfacing, drainage and lighting and we recently announced two weeks ago our plans to build a new grandstand on the far side.

“Our aim is to have a boutique inner city stadium capable of comfortably sitting 5,000 people as required over time. We are a club with aspirations for our community and supporters, as we continue to navigate our own Preston journey,” he said.

The grandstand, to be located on the western side of BT Connor Reserve, looms as a key ingredient to cater for Preston’s ever-growing fanbase.

The design process is in an ongoing discussion, but Cvetkovski is excited at the prospect of being a destination club in years to come.

“This is an exciting project that will be done over multiple stages, with our own Preston people leading the way,” he said.

“As a starting point, we’d like to at least put the concreting down so people have a place to stand or sit that isn’t on mud, especially on a cold or wet night.

“We need to be a club that provides a premium venue that can comfortably hold around 5,000 plus people regularly.

“Our ultimate goal is to build a welcoming and inclusive ground that allows more people to be undercover or have readily available resources.”

Hypothetically, Cvetkovski knows the importance of assigning improved clear roles for his team of executives and advisors (alongside players who would be on professional contracts), if they were to be selected for the second division.

“I think for this to work properly we are going to need to articulate specific roles, for example, everything from a general manger, a sponsorship manager, a marketing manager etc.,” he said.

Cvetkovski was insistent that despite his club doing quite well quite on a number of fronts, it was of upmost importance that all clubs selected in a national second division will need to contribute effectively in their own way.

“The key to this division is we need 12-14 clubs to bring something strong and contribute – so every club can be successful,” he said.

“It’s no use if four or five clubs to become powerhouses in this league and beat everyone else, it’s about our game creating a competitive division, a thriving football ecosystem, with good rivalries, in a way which is economically viable for all the teams.

“We can’t get to the point where the FA needs to prop up these teams like what we see in in other codes, they have to be strong.”

Secure sponsorships to offset costs at a league level will be fundamental to the health of the National Second Tier. Cvetkovski was looking forward to see how that would eventuate through the governing body.

“Commercial arrangements will be critical, it’s another other element that will need to be factored in (which I’m sure the FA is working on) – we obviously don’t know too much about the commercial arrangements which will come in due course,” he said.

“We’ve been in all the meetings from day dot – as we were early members of the AAFC and have continued to participate in conversations with the FA. The FA did a really good roll out last year and gave us a lot of clarity at that time as to what would be involved.

“In those early discussions, we were all made aware of the astute modelling that was being considered such as travel, flights, corporate sponsors across the league and it will be interesting to see how that turns out.”

While increased financial costs will need to be offset for a national second division, Cvetkovski highlighted attitudes of the aspiring clubs would be critical to the success of the new tier.

“We want football to prosper, we need to work together to create healthy rivalries and a football ecosystem that is sustainable longer term,” he said.

“These aspiring clubs, like South Melbourne for example, are big clubs and we need them, we need the healthy rivalry. All clubs will need to make a contribution and bring something to the table so we can all be successful.

“I want to see 8,000 – 10,000 people at BT Connor when we host South Melbourne, I want to see 2000-3000 of our NSW based supporters attend games in Sydney and Wollongong, that’s beautiful, that’s football, that’s our aspiration.”

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

An amenities refresher for NSW grassroots custodian

The NSW Football Legacy Program has worked in conjunction with the Bayside Council in providing $150,000 to the Bexley North Football Club (BNFC) who join the vast growing number of successful applicants of the Infrastructure Stream, which is the second round screening process.

The Football Legacy program is a $10 million investment founded by the NSW Government. The program’s intention is to continue the established growth of female football through freshly refurbished community facilities.

Furthermore, development programs, participation initiatives and potential ventures involving tourism and international engagement are all at the forefront of the overall objective the NSW government has regarding the growth of football within the state.

The $150,000 grant in which BNFC are receiving is going to be spent sparingly. Kingsgrove Avenue Reserve is in dire need of a rejuvenation, given the club’s recent rise to popular interest within the Football St George Association, BNFC experienced an astounding spike in membership.

Since the 2021 season, the club witnessed a spike in members, a 35% increase surge in overall involvement, highlighted by a 40% increase in female involvement.

The traffic that the club began to experience was a confronting yet exciting time for the community operated club. Their previous facilities could not cater for the extravagant influx of participants, hence the club opting to collaborate with the Bayside Council.

The grant successfully attained will be used to upgrade the amenities at Kingsgrove Avenue Reserve from top to bottom. The newly furbished facility has hosts a conference room, referee room, medical room, canteen, and storage area.

Further funding requested by BNFC is expected to be utilized in rejuvenating the current change rooms and bathrooms, as well as a through fixup of the established home and away locker rooms. The end goal insight, is to accommodate highly regarded women’s footballing outlets in the future.

BNFC President Eddie Yazbeck, mentioned the importance of what this grant will provide.

“We have worked closely with Bayside Council to develop a site plan for Kingsgrove Avenue Reserve and together we applied for the NSW Football Legacy Fund to help make our vision a reality,” he said via press release. 

“This grant will deliver a much-needed infrastructure upgrade, addressing concerns such as accessibility and safety, improved canteen facilities, storage for our kits, change rooms for players and referees.”

The Facilities and Grants Officer at Football NSW, James Spanoudakis, also added via media release. 

“Amenity buildings are the heart and soul of all football clubs across NSW,” he said.

The new amenities is expected to be completed towards the conclusion of 2024, ready to go for the 2025 winter season.   

Melbourne City proudly unveil their state-of-the-art-facilities

Melbourne City have proudly showcased their clubs latest project through the unveiling of their new state-of-the-art-facility, located at Casey Fields in Cranbourne.

The City Football Academy Melbourne continues to push the already established high-standards in which football across Australia are beginning to reach. The facility will host the men’s and women’s teams, as well as the club’s grassroot program, and an administration office is also involved in the newly developed location.

The Melbourne based club were inspired by their British parent and European juggernauts Manchester City have some of, if not the best facilities in world football. Melbourne City’s latest facility was developed in accordance to the structure and framework relating to Manchester City.

Within the newly furnished building, it’s features are acknowledged to stand out amongst other rival A-League entity’s. A 60-seat theatre and community classroom was installed to host club officials and guests, 16 changerooms combined with Hydrotherapy pools and two gyms, all designed to propel their playing personnel in achieving their peak athletic condition. Administration spaces where also created for Sports Science, Sports Medicine and club officials to all reside in.

The official opening took place on April 10 by City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff PSM, and Melbourne City FC Vice Chairman Simon Pearce.

Located at the Casey Fields Sporting precinct in which is building quite the resume within the tenants it has acquired in various codes of sport across the state. The 5,900m2 facility that City now possess in their arsenal sits on eleven hectares of land, upon it they have five different football pitches, with varying surfaces.

The opportunities in which this facility presents to football fans and participants alike, are in abundance, 3,500 aspiring young football participants will be able to use the facilities on offer, with many more able to spectate City matches in which may be played at their Academy.

Melbourne City FC CEO Brad Rowse stated via press release:

“This amazing facility will be the new home to our Men’s, Women’s, Academy, and Administration teams, and will allow us to come together under the one roof to train, share ideas and challenge each other every single day.

“We’re setting new standards for football in Australia and laying the foundations for sustainable growth, on and off the pitch.”

With the latest edition of the McDonald’s City Cup being played at the newly launched facility, the tournament was a token showcasing that the clubs elite are not the only ones who will benefit from the facility but also local footballing communities in addition.

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