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Will Melbourne City eventually move all of their games to the south east?

Melbourne City were the benchmark in the A-League last season, lifting the Premiers Plate in May and eventually the Championship in late June.

It was their first taste of A-League success after years of hard work on and off the pitch.

The club has invested heavily since City Football Group (CFG) took over the Melbourne Heart in 2014, initially building a $15 million City Football Academy in Bundoora, in the city’s north, which has housed the club for the past few years.

In what seems like a strategic investment however, the club revealed late last year that they will move from their Bundoora headquarters and relocate to Casey Fields in Melbourne’s south east.

Earlier this month, the club announced construction had begun on the new elite City Football Academy facility within the 84-hectare Casey Fields Sporting Precinct.

“The first stage of construction includes the central elite training pitch, with its 115m x 115m hybrid grass surface, and is due for completion by the end of 2021. The new pitch is adjacent to the site’s existing four full-sized pitches – one grass and three synthetic – which will be primarily used by the Club’s Academy teams and for City in the Community programs, as well as for City of Casey school and club programs.

“The next stage of construction will see the development of Melbourne City’s new two-storey administration and high-performance building at Casey Fields, currently in detailed design phase. Construction on that phase of the facility is due to commence in the coming months, with completion estimated for mid-2022,” a Melbourne City FC statement read.

Stage three of construction will look to implement a 4000-capacity mini stadium in a significant space in the precinct.

With the club’s A-League players to officially begin training in the facility in August, recent developments in regards to the possibility of a 15,000-capacity stadium in Dandenong may see the end of the team playing all of their games at AAMI Park, in the years to come.

The Victorian Government has already pledged $100,000 in funding for a feasibility review and development of a business case to build the 15,000-seat boutique stadium, with the City of Greater Dandenong also set to match that contribution.

According to Cranbourne Star News, The Greater Dandenong Council is lobbying for $110 million to build the stadium, which will also host festivals, concerts, rugby matches, alongside hosting future Melbourne City games.

While of course at this stage there is no guarantee the stadium will be built, Melbourne City head honchos may have to grapple with the idea of permanently leaving AAMI Park behind, the stadium they have hosted games at since their inception.

With Victory ditching their deal with Marvel Stadium to move all their games back to AAMI Park next season and Western United set to play the majority of their games at AAMI for at least the next two seasons, the 30,000-capacity rectangular stadium is not short of regular football content.

If the proposed stadium does get the go-ahead, City may look to move all of their home matches to Dandenong, and alongside their new academy location, this can prove to be beneficial in establishing a clear geographic identity.

They will have a stronger presence in the local areas and will have the chance to better connect with the local football community and grow their membership base.

City should also still have a reasonable chunk of members who live in the south and south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, with a report from 2018 stating 28% of their members came from those areas.

Adversely, a move away from AAMI Park has the possibility to alienate members and fans who may not want to travel to the proposed stadium for reasons such as proximity.

Sharing the home games between the stadiums could be a viable option, but also brings on the challenge of not having a singular home ground, as well as match scheduling conflicts.

A big call from City administrators may need to be made in the end and not all members and fans will be pleased.

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.

Melbourne Victory extends partnership with CoachNick Business Coaching

MVFC

Melbourne Victory have announced the continuation of CoachNick Business Coaching as an Associate Partner for the 2021/22 season.

CoachNick Business Coaching has been associated with the Victory brand and Victory in Business over the last 10 years and has supported the Club since its inception.

Melbourne Victory Managing Director Caroline Carnegie was excited to see the Club continue their collaboration with CoachNick Business Coaching.

“CoachNick has been an integral part of the Victory in Business family and we’re excited to further our partnership, elevating CoachNick Business Coaching to an Associate Partner for the upcoming season,” she said.

“The company’s business solutions have helped small to medium organisations in Melbourne and across the country and we’re proud to have CoachNick continuing his ties with the Club and Victory in Business.”

CoachNick Business Coaching Managing Director, Nick Ikonomou – who has been a member of Melbourne Victory since 2005 – is thrilled to broaden his partnership with the Club.

“It’s a proud moment to be involved yet again with Melbourne Victory this season, expanding our partnership and seeing how the next generation of Victory professionals take the next step,” Ikonomou said.

“This is not just a commercial partnership. My ties to the Club run from the first game as a supporter and as a Victory In Business member to now, as an Associate Partner and right throughout the history of the Club.”

CoachNick’s variety of services range from business owner and senior management training in sales and marketing, customer service, goal setting, time management, systemisation, financial management, recruitment, leadership, negotiation, conflict resolution, franchising and succession planning.

CoachNick Business Coaching has provided top class business support and training to over 400 small to medium businesses in all industries in Australia for 22 years. You can find out more here.

North Sunshine Eagles FC to move into $8.4 million facility

North Sunshine Eagles FC’s entire junior setup will be based out of More Park in 2022, a newly redeveloped $8.4 million facility in Ardeer.

The facility itself, amongst other things, has two full size rectangular pitches, a 21x12m fully enclosed futsal court, a mini pitch (suitable for miniroos), competition standard (200 lux) lighting, four female-friendly changerooms as well as a fully accessible sports pavilion, community social room and expanded carpark.

The club, which has continued to grow its number of registered players over multiple years, has been working with the local Brimbank City Council for a while to move on its juniors from previous homes of Bon Thomas Reserve and Lloyd Reserve.

“Over the years, we’ve been developing and expanding the club to a stage where we couldn’t continue with the levels of kids we were having at these facilities,” President of North Sunshine Eagles FC, Memet Selimi, told Soccerscene.

Selimi explained that the competition for use of the facility was hotly contested, but the club’s strong work in the area, particularly in engaging migrant communities was heavily favoured by the local council.

“We put forward a very solid application for the facility,” he said.

“Ultimately, there were several other big clubs that had applied for the position as well.

“The facility itself was traditionally a softball facility, but it never had a winter tenant – so it was pretty much always just used in the summer time and there was a big space to fill.

“Clearly, council established that there was capacity here, they wanted a winter tenant and they found us to be the most suitable candidate.

“It’s been a bit of a process, but we’re really excited about the idea of being there now for the start of next season.”

The club’s senior setup is set to remain at their home base of 30 years at Larissa Reserve in St Albans, however, Selimi revealed competitive senior matches may be played due to the improved lighting setup at More Park.

“We are looking at engaging in the possibility of playing night matches, once we run it past Football Victoria for approval,” he said.

“We will look at matches at night that will generate numbers and logistically be easy to deal with.

“Ultimately, Larissa will continue to be our home base for the seniors, but More Park will hopefully host a number of senior matches in the future.”

The club, which has a strong history going back over 50 years, are set to benefit in a multitude of ways from moving to the new facility, as is the local community – according to Selimi.

“It’s a great facility, it’s got everything we need,” he said.

“Its’s unique as well, for example, it’s got a really cool caged football setup – which is exactly something you would see in Europe or South America. It will develop a player’s skills at a much more intricate level.

“We want to grow football within the female community and engage as much as possible. We feel it’s an incredible opportunity for the club and we have grown those junior female numbers over the past few years at an exponential rate. With the new facilities we can continue to do that, with the grounds, the increased capacities and the changerooms which cater for females.

“Overall, from a footballing and club perspective, it’s going to allow us to expand our juniors, our women’s football and just create a better environment for everyone.

“From a community standpoint, it will also allow us to connect with the local migrant demographics we are trying to engage and really just try to provide an affordable option for people in the area. It’s unfair for a talent to miss out on possibilities because clubs are charging $2000 a season; we charge much less and work with individuals on things like payment plans, or trying to sponsor them, as well as other combinations as a club to make sure they don’t miss out on these chances.”

The club is extremely grateful for the improved setup at More Park for its juniors and hopes a few facility tweaks at Larissa Reserve will round out the good news.

“It will be incredible if we could seek out some funding for Larissa in regards to an upgraded carpark and lighting, but beyond that we can’t really complain,” Selimi said.

“What we’ve received up to this point is fantastic and it’s really up to us now to take it, run with it and grow our club even further – which would be great.”

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