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.

German football ends 70 years with Adidas for Nike deal

The German Football Association (DFB) has inked a mega eight-year deal with American sportswear giant Nike and move on from incredible 70-year partnership with Adidas.

The deal commences in 2027 after the next World Cup and runs to the end of 2034 with the company securing kit rights for at least two World Cup campaigns.

Nike were able to blow away Adidas’ offer and the deal was one they simply couldn’t refuse. It is reportedly worth AU$169.3 million a year, exactly double the amount Adidas currently gives the DFB which is $84.6 million.

Adidas has been a DFB partner since the 1950s and has been synonymous with the success of Germany’s men’s and women’s national teams, who have supported the company’s logo during 14 World Cup and European Championship triumphs.

This deal has caused huge public backlash from German fans and politicians who believe it goes against the traditions and history of the sport.

However, the DFB has defended its decision to drop Adidas as Nike made the better financial offer which would help the federation fund the future of German football as it would be invested into the grassroots game.

DFB President Bernd Neuendorf explained the controversial decision and gives his well wishes to Adidas.

“We understand every emotion. It’s also a drastic event for us as an association when it becomes clear that a partnership that was and is characterised by many special moments is coming to an end after more than 70 years. That doesn’t leave us cold,” Neuendorf said in a statement.

“The DFB has to make economic decisions against this background. Nike made by far the best financial offer in the transparent and non-discriminatory tender process.

“The federation will do everything we can to achieve shared success with our long-standing and current partner Adidas, to whom German soccer has owed a lot for more than seven decades.”

It is a huge loss for Adidas’ legacy, losing a long term relationship with the country’s biggest sporting team to its main rival and ultimately showcasing the bargaining power Nike has over the company.

However, the company still has a huge standing in football despite this issue and won’t be too affected by it. At the international level, Adidas has deals with higher-ranked Argentina and Italy and will still supply Germany’s kits at the 2026 World Cup – a tournament which it will also sponsor.

This new deal allows more money to tackle issues in the grassroots game in Germany and help stabilise the system as it looks towards returning to long-term international success.

Football Victoria celebrates establishment between Sydenham Park SC and Calder United SC

A striking partnership has been established between Sydenham Park SC and Calder United SC, with the Western United affiliated club to play 11 home fixtures at Keilor Lodge Reserve.

The Club Changer Club Development Program, an incentive created in 2023 to assist clubs fostering and strengthening inclusive environments for multiple diverse communities within society to participate in football, supports the growth of women’s football, among many other ranges of football within the country.

Last year, all federation members dedicated a strong focus upon women and young females in football as a main element of their Legacy 23 campaign. This enables club development officers across the state to work in conjunction with clubs in order to foster a positive football experience within female football, both on and off the field.

In this facility sharing partnership, Sydenham Park SC vice-president Davis Lisolajski showcased his clubs enthusiasm.

“When we learned that they were without a home venue, it was an obvious choice for us to reach out and assist,” he said via press release.

“Women’s football holds significant importance for us at Sydenham, and we believe this partnership will benefit our young girls and both senior women’s teams. They will witness professionalism first-hand during match days.”

Calder United SC President Amanda Stella expressed excitement towards developing a sustained and effective partnership to spearhead National Premier League Women’s football to Sydenham Park in 2024.

“The support from Sydenham Park President Nick and Vice President David, along with the broader Sydenham Park community, is greatly appreciated, and we eagerly anticipate playing our senior and 20s home games for the 2024 season at Sydenham Park,” she added via media release.

“A special acknowledgment to Football Victoria’s Josephine La Pila for her work with both clubs to achieve an outcome that promotes collaboration among football clubs for the betterment of our beloved sport.”

Football Victoria have endorsed the partnership between these two growing clubs within female football across the state.

With Calder United establishing themselves as a competitive club amongst the NPLW competition, the partnership allowing the club between the Western United sister club and Sydenham puts a focus upon both sides allowing their playing and coaching staff to use one of the best pitch surfaces within the north-western district of Melbourne. The use of these highly elite facilities will allow them to have an advantage, perhaps being the difference in furthering themselves away from their competitors.

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