Football Clubs (in this case Sturt Football Club) inspire and lift a community

There is nothing quite like sport to inspire and lift a community. And in South Australia and Adelaide the sport with the capacity to inspire and lift is Aussie Rules (AFL) Footy.

This is what we have seen this week with the back to back success of the Sturt Football Club. We in Unley get to experience and taste the euphoria that comes with Premiership success for the second consecutive year.

Sturt players holding the Thomas Seymour Hill Cup.

The Sturt Football Club yesterday defeated Port Adelaide by the slenderest of margins. They got to lift high the Thomas Seymour Smith Cup in triumph. Final Scores

Sturt                         7.8         50

Port Adelaide      7.7         49

Much of my pre-Council community service was in the world of sport and in particular, football. I know only too well the benefits that sport and certainly AFL football brings to a community.

Sporting clubs are some of the strongest community organisations in Australia and South Australia. Football Clubs are the best example of this.

They bring together people of all types. They attract people of all social standings and bring them together. We see CEOs and assembly line workers work together for the benefit of their club. Male and Female and people of different cultures, all arm in arm with a shared passion.

Football Clubs, and Sturt is no exception, give to the community in numerous ways. As I said earlier they inspire and lift a community. They provide hope to their community.

In the lead-up to the recent Grand Final we saw double blue coloured balloons lining Unley Road, King William Road and Goodwood Road. There was a buzz in the air along these streets. That will multiply this week on the back of a success of which the community will take ownership.

Hours away from closing their doors just a few years ago, this club (both on and off the field) epitomises everything you wish to see in your community and an example for all communities to follow.

Congratulations Sturt Footy Club.


Sturt to share in the proceeds of the Sale of Footy Park

The following transcript is an article on the SANFL website. Seems the league will be bailing out all their clubs over the coming years as a result of the pending sale of Football Park.

As  read the article it seems also that some clubs and Sturt, after their particularity intense effort to solve their own debt problems, may by in line for  grant that will assist in the redevelopment of Unley Oval.

SANFL announces debt relief payments for clubs

SANFL clubs will share in additional game development payments over the next seven years under a commitment from the SA Football Commission to help clubs retire debt.

The eight SANFL clubs – Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens – will each receive an additional $2 million in game development payments between 2016 and 2022 inclusive.

The funds will become available to the SANFL for distribution to the clubs as part of the staged redevelopment of the AAMI Stadium precinct, with the first payment of $125,000 per club scheduled to happen in October 2016.

“The fact that the SANFL is moving into a position to be able to further assist clubs is obviously a good thing,” SA Commission Chairman John Olsen said.

“However, this should not be misinterpreted as largess to help the clubs run their businesses.

“The funding comes with a strict series of conditions to ensure the focus is on reducing debt and building savings.

“This is a once-off opportunity. We are realising the value of what is our biggest asset and we must therefore do so in a way that maximises the outcome. For many clubs, this will not be a panacea. They will need to continue to commit to debt and expenditure reduction to ensure they can all emerge stronger for the future.”

The SANFL clubs will receive staggered payments subject to conditions that include extinguishing any outstanding tax or employee superannuation commitments and reducing both secured and unsecured debt.

Only once a club has paid its outstanding debts can it commit any of the funds to savings, and it must do so by investing in such a way as to preserve the capital amount.

It can then – with the approval of the SA Football Commission – potentially use those investments as security against future borrowings.

“The redevelopment of our asset at West Lakes delivers some critically important short, medium and long-term benefits for South Australian football,” Mr Olsen said.

“In the first instance, the initial $10 million up-front payment from the developers enabled us to immediately pay off our debt with the AFL,” he said.

“Over the next seven years we will retire the League’s remaining debt and, with these additional payments, assist the SANFL clubs to significantly improve their viability.

“From 2022, we will then be able to commence contributions to a future fund for South Australian football which will further underpin its financial security.

“This is all part of a wider SANFL strategy to ensure football in this State is as strong as possible for generations to come.”

Not so Blue at Sturt

After years of bad publicity surrounding ongoing deficits and mounting debts it appears the Sturt Football Club has turned the corner.


Sue Dewing


Turning these deficits into a profit of over $ 300,000 in this last financial year is a huge fillip for the club. So as my heading says it is not so blue down Unley Oval way.

Or perhaps I should borrow the headline from their web page….”Blue Skies Ahead at Unley”.

The current General manager Sue Dewing with the support of a board of Directors headed by President Jason Kilic have made the hard decisions and the result is I believe the largest surplus in the clubs history. Well done to this hard working and disciplined group.

The club has also reduced it debt liability down from $ 2.2m to $1.6m.

 Sue has been quick to point out to all including her team that the work has just begun.

“While we’re not out of the woods yet, the report demonstrates that the Sturt Football Club is moving steadily towards a confident and sustainable future,” she has said.

“Our improved financial position is due to the hardworking Board, employees and volunteers, committed supporters, and generous sponsors and benefactors.

Sue is however quick to point out that the impressive results do not mean that the club can now relax its commitment to financial improvement. “The obligation to the bank and remedying our balance sheet remains the priority. The hardwork will count for nothing if we, as a club, fail to address these issues. There is still much to do and a way to go”.

Sturt President Jason Kilic said getting the club back in the black is a big shot in the arm for everyone involved with the Double Blues and that the ‘Debt Demolition’ campaign is delivering results.

“This result will give every Sturt person more confidence about our future, from our fans on the hill, right through to the players sweating it out at training under Seamus,” Mr Kilic said. “It’s no secret our club has faced some tough financial challenges in recent years, but with the continuing support of our sponsors and fans, the future is very bright at Unley.”

Their example I am sure will be closely analysed by the other SANFL clubs and it has already by the SANFL itself who has also recognized over the Adelaide Oval distribution debate that they too must cut their cloth to suit.

Buy A Picket for the Unley Oval Fence

With their Buy a Picket campaign the Sturt Football Club have secured the 1/3 rd contribution they were hoping to get from the SANFL to secure the installation of picket fencing around the Unley Oval.

I have received word that Sturt, after failing to get a contribution from the cashed up SANFL (if recent reports about their recouping an extra $3 plus million from the success of the Crows and the Power at Adelaide Oval this year are accurate), have by copying the buy a picket program of Adelaide Oval may well have succeeded in getting the pickets around Unley Oval.

The motion I moved at Council for the Picket Fencing contained a condition that Sturt who had promised to contribute 1/3 the cost of the fencing would have to find someone else to contribute likewise because we (the Council) would only contribute 1/3. The initially felt they had a good case to put t the SANFL but no grant was forthcoming from them. This is in spite of the rumoured gold mine for the SANFL in the form of the Adelaide Oval.

Unley Oval Pickets



So the Double Blues figured they could copy the buy a picket campaign at the Adelaide Oval. And as I understand it this has been a successful campaign. They have sufficient pledges, perhaps with supporters of the Sturt District Cricket Club also putting their hands up, to cover that final 1/3 cost.

If this is the case then I expect they (Sturt) will be providing Council with the evidence very soon and we could see tenders called as early as before Christmas and work commence early in the new year, in time fr the start of the next footy season.

If Sturt FC can be as successful on the field as they are currently showing off the field a premiership is probably just around the corner.

End of the Blues in Sight for Sturt

Sturt Football Club’s consolidated financial report has been released and based on my reading of the report they have turned the corner and are looking at being profitable going into the future.

The bottom line for the year ending October 2013 shows they have made yet another loss but a deeper look into the statement reveals that with the Castle Tavern lease terminated back on 2 April they are ready to post a profit. I say this because without the loss suffered last year from their Tavern activities they would have actually posted a healthy surplus.

The current board, the previous CEO Matt Benson who started the debt consolidation process and the new CEO Sue Dewing who has escalated these activities and overseen some significant renovations in the McKay Stand at Unley Oval, all deserve acknowledgement for turning things around.

A summary of their statement is as follows:

Sturt Football Club                     surplus   $ 302,797.00
Castle Tavern                             loss        $ 234,172.00
Unley Sports & Social Club        loss        $ 105,540.00
Consolidated                              loss        $   36,915.00

Without absorbing another loss from the activities of the Castle Tavern, which the report claims was unsustainable because of the fees payable to their landlord, the would have posted a surplus of $ 265,282.00. This can only be seen as healthy and an indication the club is indeed sustainable into the future, with its current operating model.

The report also indicates that they have managed to negotiate a waiving of unpaid licence fees such that their working capital will improve by $ 270,000.00 in the 2014 year.

Well done Sturt.

This is all good news, not only for the club but for Council and the rate payers of Unley to whom they still have a debt to pay off, albeit a very much reduce one.

Centre repair costs anger- a symptom of a bigger picture.

That’s the heading of a storey in the Eastern Courier this wee concerning the need for significant maintenance of the property in Oxford Terrace Unley, occupied by the Sturt Footy Club.

The article which can be found at here at Centre Repair Costs Anger reflects the concerns of at least one Unley Councillor, Michael Hudson. It focuses on the concerns of this Councilor who, stressed by Sturt’s financial situation, is of the belief that the majority of the repairs are repairs the Club should have and should be undertaking under the lease agreement.

You could be excused for thinking this way. From what I glean however, reading the report and as a builder, the majority of the items requiring attention are actually what the Council are responsible for.

Cr Hudson was critical more of our administration than Sturt it must be acknowledged. And this leads to the crux of the real dilemma.

In my short time on Council, and being a building inspector (who spends his time looking at buildings and determining their health status), it is my opinion that past administrations, indeed past Councils (the elected members) have not recognised the need for proactive maintenance. The current administration I believe does but they are in a difficult position in not having the funds to deal with this.

A legacy if you will of rates not having been high enough in years and decades past.

Our building stock is sick (not just the one Sturt occupies) and in need of repair. The current administration and the next Council (after the upcoming November elections) I believe will be faced with what to do about are aging stock.

Volunteers the key fro Double Blues

Sturt’s New CEO Sue Dewing has thanked me for praising her and suggested to me that I should be praising the volunteers that made it happen.

Here is an excerpt of what she had to say.

Your article, which was fantastic for my ego, should have given all the credit to the volunteers, who quite simply put, make me look good.  They are:
Scott Rickards
Michael Kernot
Grant Nancarrow
Peter Kepler
Peter Hall
Ken Hughes
Mike McEntee, MacPlumb Plumbing
Adam, Cold Krush
Dee Sellick, Misfix
Well Done Guys.
So Management, Board, Volunteers have all put their hand up before the start of the upcoming season. This should provide great motivation for other group, the players, as they take the filed.

Sturt helping themselves under new leadership

Under the new leadership of Sue Dewing the Sturt Footy Club is investing in making their facilities, which everyone agrees is in a poor state, fit for use.

Sue Dewing was appointed to replace previous CEO Matt Benson. I have had the fortune of speaking twice with her and I have to say I am impressed with her passion and I sense her ability to bring about the change that this club needs.

She strikes me as a leader that will lead from the front, not afraid to roll the sleeves up and get down in the trenches. For more information about Sue check out this link to the Sturt FC website.

And I had the privilege when the business dinner I was to attend down the road this morning at the Town Hall was cancelled due to a power failure of walking through the inside of the McKay Stand to see what she has achieved already.

A team of volunteers have been through the stand, filled 3 containers of rubbish, carpeted floors, fix taps etc and are currently completing a repaint.

The players must be reassured that the Club are behind them with what has occurred. The last time I was there (with other elected members) it looked tired, old and run down. It now has a fresh feel about it and that was in the dark thanks to that power outage.

And Sue has indicated she will invite elected members of council for a tour in 2 or 3 weeks when they have finished the program.

Unley Oval message continues to be distorted

Unley Council rejects another plan for the future upgrade of Unley Oval is the headline in the current Eastern Courier.

Members of Council have reacted with dismay and confusion and in some cases outrage at these headlines.

The observations made this week in the Eastern courier about the hour of debate we had at our last Council meeting will leave the public, who rely on the press for their information, having no idea what is going on.

As I noted in my last post on this subject, the morning after the meeting and which can be found at, we have stalled and only temporarily because the motion we had suggested to us last week was simply to receive the report.

How that can be interpreted as a rejection of the plan has got me beat?

As I indicated in my last post I have now met with a number of members to discern the detail in the report provided us and determine what information we still need with a view to developing a motion on notice that will move us forward.

We have a workshop scheduled, as agreed to at the council meeting, at which we will request information on those things we are short on information for. I am confident that I will have a motion on notice, or a group of motions on notice that will bring about a positive result. One that will be acceptable to members of council, to the public at large and which will help bring Sturt FC up to other clubs in the facilities they have available to them.

Unley Oval Improvement fails to take next step (yet)

Sparked by my motion on notice to Council back in October we received a report last night from administration that did two things. What it did not do is provide direction for us going forward.

The motion relevant to the report suggested by admin was that we simply receive the report. I understand that this was the case because Council’s administration are looking for direction from us (Us being the Council- the elected members).

The report provided us with insights as to how we might provide more open space for the citizens of Unley to make use of the facilities there. It also provided information about the requirements of the AFL that the SANFL are asking the Sturt Footy Club to comply with.

The speeches to the receive the report motion last night pretty much mirrored what I have heard from community members in recent days. That is firstly that we don’t need to create additional space, the facility is fine as it is in what it provides. The second observation is that Sturt deserve to have the amenity of their facility upgraded to a reasonable (if not AFL compliant) state.

This is what I heard elected members saying  lats night and it echoes what I have heard from the public. Yes the public are happy to upgrade the stands to make them AFL compliant.

As we have stalled waiting on direction it is my intention to move a motion on notice at our next Council meeting that will reflect what I have said in this blog post. To move a motion that does indeed move us forward and I have invited elected members to participate in putting this motion together.