When Trent Jacobs announced in May that he would be stepping down as Melbourne Victory Chief Executive Officer (CEO), he left a colossal task ahead for whoever is his chosen successor.
Whoever steps into the role will need to act fast, steady the ship and win support from the fans because of Victory’s recent struggles in the A-League. With a review of the structure of the club currently underway by club director and company secretary Caroline Carnegie, the decision of who takes the role will likely be influenced by club chairman Anthony Di Pietro and herself. There are a number of people available who could easily step into the role, bringing with them experience and football knowledge to give the Victory a much-needed soft reboot.
Richard Scudmore, the former English Premier League CEO, is already familiar with the A-League after working as a special adviser to competition boss Greg O’Rourke. Scudmore is an experienced football operator who could bring a wealth of knowledge to Victory’s boardroom. The sticking point is surely the price it would cost to bring in someone of his stature. Whether Victory has the funds, or the will to fork out the dollars for Scudmore is surely the biggest hurdle. However, he would a valuable asset for any club.
Should they instead focus on an experienced hand, who has been at the helm of an A-League team before? Recently departed Newcastle Jets Chief Executive Lawrie McKinna could have the experience necessary to take on the role at Melbourne Victory, and his passion for football is in display for all. After a tumultuous time at the Jets, the Victory job could be a big enough carrot to lure him back into the hot seat, despite rumours of a return to local politics.
Another option would be the former head of the A-League Archie Fraser. He was CEO of St Kilda football club for a time, and was also briefly the Macarthur FC CEO, before stepping down four months into his tenure to pursue a different opportunity. Another experienced football head, he could bring knowledge and professionalism to Victory to help in their much-needed rebuild. Whether he has the passion to re-enter football is the question.
An outside-the-box option could be Jeff Doyle, the former group CEO of Altus Traffic. Doyle is a former professional footballer in the United Kingdom, and he is a known quality to Melbourne Victory because of his involvement through front-of-shirt sponsorship deals. Someone from outside the current structure of the A-League, with time spent in different facets of the game, could prove a wise choice for the Victory going forward. Doyle recently left his role as CEO of Altus Traffic and is a hot favorite for the position within the Victory fan base.
A different angle to pursue could be to promote someone into the top job from within the club. This is unlikely however, as CEOs are rarely promoted from within an organisation.
A decision – and an announcement – is surely imminent of who will be the next Melbourne Victory CEO. Whoever it is will have the mammoth task of bringing success and titles back to one of Australia’s largest clubs. They will need to breathe new life into a club that used to demand success at all levels, which has stuttered in recent years. The pressure will be huge from a fan base hungry for titles which have eluded them since Kevin Muscat’s departure as head coach, while the new CEO will also be supporting a new coaching team headlined by Tony Popovic. Whoever it is, they have their work cut out for them.