Sporting turf war in Moonee Valley leads to IBAC probe

Moonee Valley Council

The ongoing dispute between community club  Essendon Royals and the Moonee Valley council is reported to have now reached IBAC.

IBAC or the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission is the Victorian government body tasked with combatting any corruption in the state.

Although IBAC will keep its investigation sealed until it releases its finding what has been revealed thus far shows a damning pattern of code-based discrimination on the part of the council as well as bullying allegations on the part of the Royals.

The battle between the council and the club appears to have begun back in April 2021. At the time the club was based at its historical home Ormond Park.

Despite the Royals 50-year relationship with Ormond Park, including the club footing the bill for the grounds lighting, the council made the unilateral call to expand the neighbouring Australian Football Field and in process render the Royals home untenable.

At the meeting where this decision was made Moonee Valley City Councillor Rose Iser accused the club of sending a threatening message.

It read:

“Hi Rose I’ve had a chat to Brett and I’m happy for these lights to go on tonight … but please keep in mind this is a one off until our needs at Royals are met,” as revealed in the council meeting.

“We start our season off next week and are still one full size ground short to Field our teams. I’ll leave this in your hands to please sort out ASAP. One hand helps the other.”

The club then engaged legal advice on this matter and the council to avoid further conflict passed an amendment allowing the Royals greater access to a subsidiary ground Cross Keys Reserve.

This amendment was proposed by Cr Jacob Bettio and was supported by then Mayor Cam Nation and Councillors John Sipek, Ava Adams, Samantha Byrne, Narelle Sharpe, and Pierce Tyson.

Reviewing public sources from the club it appears that this did result in some amnesty between them and the council with their 2021 AGM stating that the relationship was improving.

“The Club has pursued an improved relationship with Moonee Valley City Council and relevant co-tenants and is delighted to have been able to secure greater access to fields during the summer period,” they said via the club’s website.

However, by the 2022 AGM the relationship once again had soured. As the club stated it was still committed to working with the council to help improve facilities but also that it accuses the Moonee Valley City of failing to support the clubs.

“The Royals and our fellow Moonee Valley clubs struggle to meet that demand due to the lack of facilities within the City of Moonee Valley,” they said via the club’s website.

The Age has now reported that some of the councillors who have supported the club since the original conflict in 2021 have now had their phone seized. This is by far the biggest escalation in the feud and raises more questions than it does answers.

The Councillors who have had their phones seized are Cam Nation, Narelle Sharpe, Jacob Bettio and Samantha Byrne all of whom supported the amendment that allowed the club greater access to Cross Keys. The club also confirmed that they were visited by IBAC officers.

Both the club and the council have released short press statements effectively declining to comment.

Although we shouldn’t speculate, this is nonetheless a sad turn of events for the community club that last year had over 800 children wishing to participate.

No matter the result of this investigation it is almost certain to damage the reputations both of those involved and for football generally in this state.

It opens old wounds and is an unsettling result as it is apparent that both sides have some culpability in this feud.

It is important to recognise that football is the most participated sport in Moonee Valley City and all stakeholders must reflect on how they can be better custodians of the game.

In a period that has been so positive for football in Australia, it is sad to see that the old divisions of code and identity are still a barrier to the growth of football in this state.

It should also be reflected on that the biggest losers will be the community here and it should offer a reminder that cooperation will be our biggest asset as the game continues to grow.

Football Coaches Australia and Martyn Buckie team up for ‘Benefits of Micro Coaching Sessions’

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) and Martyn Buckie will host an online session on Monday, July 29 at 7:30pm AEST.

As part of ‘Benefits of Micro Coaching Sessions’, Buckie will present insights on the benefits of micro coaching sessions for children and youth coaches.

Coaches will get a full understanding on what ‘Micro Sessions’ are and how to implement them into training sessions. He will explain the benefits they provide to both players and coaches and how to design effective ‘Micro Session’ practices.

Buckie is currently the ‘Grassroots Coach Education and Development Manager’ with the Scottish Football Association. He is a UEFA A Licence and Scotttish Advanced Children’s Licence holder. In addition, he is also the advanced Children’s Licence Tutor and Course Manager.

He has a wealth of practical coaching experience as Academy Coach at both Stenhousemuir FC and Falkirk FC.

Attendance to this event will qualify for one-hour CPD with Football Australia.

Sign up via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/martyn-buckie-benefits-of-micro-coaching-sessions-tickets-940768212047?aff=oddtdtcreator

Football Australia bolsters leadership with key new appointments

Football Australia has confirmed the appointments of Briana Harvey as General Manager of the Women’s National Teams and David Mason for the role of General Manager of the Men’s National Teams.

These strategic appointments are part of Football Australia’s ongoing efforts to strengthen and enhance the leadership and management of its national teams, ensuring both the women’s and men’s programs benefit from experienced and dedicated leadership.

Harvey has an extensive background in sports management, having held key roles at prominent organizations such as Hockey Victoria, the Australian Football League, Hawthorn Football Club, and, most recently, at the GWS GIANTS Football Club. Her diverse experience across these major sporting bodies highlights her expertise and leadership capabilities in the field.

Mason’s deep involvement with Australian football stretches back to 1998. Throughout his career, he has held numerous management positions in media and communications, football operations, and club administration at Northern Spirit, Parramatta Power, Sydney FC, and Football Australia.

His extensive experience across these diverse roles has equipped him with a comprehensive understanding of the sport’s landscape, making him a valuable asset in his new role.

For the last seven years, Mason has served as CEO of Manly Warringah Football Association and Manly United FC, one of Australia’s largest football associations. Returning to Football Australia, Mason brings with him a vast reservoir of knowledge in local, regional, and global football.

His experience is complemented by a deep familiarity with Australia’s National Football Teams, positioning him to make significant contributions in his new role.

Beginning on August 12, both Harvey and Mason will take charge of the strategic, operational, and administrative aspects of Football Australia’s Men’s and Women’s National Teams. Their responsibilities will include planning and managing budgets, as well as coordinating overall annual match schedules.

In their roles, they will ensure that all logistical and operational needs are met, driving the success and efficiency of the national teams’ programs.

Their leadership will be pivotal in shaping the future of Australian football on both the national and international stages.

Head of National Teams Gary Moretti expressed his excitement of the designation via press release.

“We are delighted to have secured the services of both Briana and David who as individuals and collectively bring a wealth of industry knowledge to Football Australia,” he said.

“Briana has a strong corporate pedigree with extensive experience within elite level sport. Her background and passion for women’s sport will be an invaluable asset to our National Teams both now and in the future.

“David is a football person and has contributed to the sport at all levels for almost three decades. In addition to his strong football acumen, David brings significant business and operational experience from his highly successful tenure as a CEO within the football industry.

“Along with Andrew McKenzie (General Manager – High Performance), the appointments of Briana and David will strengthen the management and future prospects of our National Teams as we look to create an elite performance and operational environment featuring a world’s best-practice focus.”

CEO of Football Australia James Johnson added how their experience and wealth of knowledge will ensure operation excellence via press release.

“The appointments of Briana and David are strategic moves that align with our vision to enhance the performance and success of our National Teams. Their combined experience and leadership will play a crucial role in ensuring operational excellence, so we remain competitive on the global stage and continue to inspire the next generation of football talent in Australia.”

Football Australia – National Teams Senior Management

Head of National Teams: Gary Moretti
General Manager – Women’s National Teams: Briana Harvey (commencing 12 August)
General Manager – Men’s National Teams: David Mason (commencing 12 August)
General Manager – High Performance: Andrew McKenzie (commenced 10 July)
General Manager – Football Analysis, Data and Insights (to be appointed)

The creation of four new leadership positions within the National Teams underscores Football Australia’s commitment and investment in its Senior and Youth National Teams, as outlined in the XI Principles for the future of Australian Football. Every position plays a critical role in advancing, overseeing, and ensuring the sustained success of all High Performance and National Team programs and initiatives.

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