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.

Melbourne City FC and Tarneit United to promote grassroots growth

Tarneit United and Melbourne City

Melbourne City FC announced that Tarneit United Soccer Club are a Macca’s City Clubs Platinum Partner for the current 2023/24 A-Leagues season.

Melbourne City have used their partnership with McDonald’s Australia to create The Macca’s City Clubs program. This program aims to engage junior grassroots football clubs across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria with the aim to help grow football on and off the pitch.

The club seek to create purposeful long-term relationships with every club they work with and make a huge impact on the development and participation numbers of the sport.

It was originally launched in the 2021/22 A-Leagues season, and the club continues to grow the club network utilising this amazing program every season.

There are plenty of benefits for Tarneit United SC that come out of this partnership including “Coach the Coach” workshops led by our experienced Melbourne City coaches, player meet and greets, and the opportunity to take part in exclusive matchday experiences and offers.

Tarneit United President, Burhan Farah explained why this partnership would benefit the members of the club greatly.

“Tarneit United is in the heart of the west and we’re excited to partner with the best A-League club in the country. Farah mentioned in a Melbourne City press release

“A love for football is our number one driver, and by aligning our club with Melbourne City FC, we hope to inspire our coaches and players to continue to grow our game in the community.

“It’s an honour to be a Macca’s City Club Platinum Partner and we look forward to supporting Melbourne City from the stands this season.”

Melbourne City FC CEO, Brad Rowse explained the importance of growing grassroots football in Victoria.

“We’re delighted to welcome Tarneit United to the Macca’s City Club program on the eve of the 2023/24 A-Leagues season. Rowse added in a club press release.

“Supporting grassroots football is important to us at Melbourne City FC, and with the addition of Tarneit United, we now have thirteen Macca’s City Club Platinum Partners stretching right across Melbourne.

“We’re incredibly excited to partner with Tarneit United and can’t wait to give their participants plenty of unforgettable experiences and opportunities in the years ahead.”

Melbourne City through their Football School and Maccas City Clubs programs have set a standard for the other teams in the league to hopefully follow in the near future.

The importance of setting a fantastic grassroots foundation of football in the country can never be undermined and this partnership provides another great example of it.

PSG eyeing huge Parc des Princes redevelopment

Parc des Princes revamp

Despite uncertainties over its future at the 48,000-capacity Parc des Princes, Paris Saint-Germain is continuing to investigate possibilities for significant redevelopment work.

According to the French publication L’Équipe, PSG is considering putting a roof and a retractable pitch to the Parc des Princes as part of an ambitious expansion proposal. The stadium is owned by the City Council of Paris, and any substantial renovations would need PSG to buy the site.

PSG has many possibilities on the table, according to L’Équipe, and the club is still interested in purchasing the Stade de France. PSG must submit an offer to purchase the Stade de France by January 3.

PSG held a survey with its supporters in March about the club’s stadium alternatives, outlining four ideas. A “significant” refurbishment of the Parc des Princes, a shift to a restored Stade de France, a new stadium to the west of Paris, and a new site within a 20 kilometre radius of the Parc des Princes that may include the town of Poissy were all possibilities.

If the team is unable to execute a deal to buy the Parc des Princes, it may attempt to buy the Stade de France or relocate to one of two new locations in the city.

The French government presently owns the Stade de France through the Consortium Stade de France. In 1995, the state handed the two corporations control of the 77,083-capacity stadium under a deal with the partnership created by construction firms Vinci and Bouygues.

The agreement between Vinci and Bouygues will expire on July 1, 2025. The cost of acquiring the facility is estimated to be over $657 million, with additional expenditure necessary to transform it to the demands of a football club.

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