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.

The Sherrin gives way to the Round Ball

One of the big sporting stories this week is that Adelaide United (known as the reds to Football (Soccer) fans) believe they can solve their debts problems by taking over an activity that the Blues (Yes that is the Sturt Footy Club (as in the the SANFL club)) which, in turn, will solve their debt problems.

As many Aussie rules fans would be aware and probably the majority of Unley residents the Sturt Footy Club has been on a debt reduction program for a while now. One of the strategies they were working on was to rid itself of the Castle Tavern and its 40 pokie machines.

Sturt purchased the Tavern some time back now as a panacea for its then debt problems but what they found was the Tavern has not provided the revenue base for the club it had planned for. What it did do was extend its debt as it had to finance the purchase of the pub and it 40 machines.

So the current strategy is to rid itself of that debt.

Adelaide United is struggling to remain viable against the big revenue generating A-League clubs of the eastern sea board. Their theory. Buy a pub with pokie machines.

Sounds a lot to me like one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.

As a sporting tragic myself I hope both clubs win with this transaction. Struggling however with how this can be. What do United know that Sturt don’t? Or is that the other way around?

Sturt far from Alone in Funds Crisis

As Sturt FC has attracted major media attention over the last couple of years an article by Heather Kennett of the Guardian Messenger Newspaper confirms my assertions that Sturt is not alone and that the SANFL and its clubs are all in a parlous state.

Recently we heard of West Adelaide’s plight, saved by winning the Foxtel Cup. They were about to be placed in the hands of a receiver before the winnings from that victory could be used to satisfy the debt of a creditor concerned about the clubs capacity to repay.

Now it is Glenelg’s turn as they seek an extra loan from their Local Council (City of Holdfast). Heather’s article follows:

THE cash-strapped Glenelg Football Club is asking for a $500,000 loan extension from Holdfast Bay Council to help pay its creditors and inject capital back into its operations.
The club has approached the council to increase its borrowings to implement a range of measures designed to restore the club’s profitability.
Bays president Nick Chigwidden said the club “was in a tight spot”.
He blamed unforeseen legal fees of $132,000 to install new lights at the ground, difficult trading conditions and poor on-field performances for its parlous financial position.
“We are looking at ways to make the business run more efficiently and looking at the operation as a whole,” he said.
“We need to reduce costs as best we can while trying to identify ways to increase revenue. “To be able to do this we need an injection of cash to reinvest into the business.
“We are part of the Glenelg community and we do pay $60,000 rent to the council. It isn’t a donation … we will pay it back.”
The club took out a $2.5 million loan with the council in 2001 to fund an upgrade of its Glenelg Oval facilities.
“With more than $1.8 million outstanding, the club wanted to redraw $500,000, he said.
The club was keen to pay off its outstanding debts, to avoid a situation similar to West Adelaide Football Club, he said.
The Bloods were taken to court over on outstanding $9000 debt earlier this month.
“There are creditors that have been dragged out … but we are not yet in the position of West Adelaide.”
He hoped the council would approve the extra borrowings.
He would not link the club’s fortunes to the resignation of former chief executive Rob Nelson last month.
Holdfast Bay councillors will consider the request at their meeting on Tuesday, August 27.
A staff report recommended the council agree to the loan extension.

Unley Oval Master Planning progresses

Council will receive a report for their consideration on Monday night’s extra Council meeting and will be asked  to agree in principle with the direction of the development of concepts for the Unley Oval precinct.

Two workshops this week, one for elected members last Monday and for the Unley Oval Reference Group last night, were held to obtain feedback on what is now Mark III of the Plan. Mark III is the result of deciding between two original options (Marks I & II) that were presented us a short while back.

The observations by elected members and more importantly, the Reference Group members (made up of the clubs and residents (Only 1 of which attended this meeting) mean that Mark III is well away from what may finally evolve. The exchange of dialogue from all these people was positive however and I believe all can see good reason  for the process to continue.

In true Local Government form however that simply means looking at the concept and while recognising it is only a concept to refine the concept and take it out for another round of public consultation. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed I suggest before this happens.

For all those interested in the future of Unley Oval please be patient. We are far from ready to look at Detailed Design. It is not yet ready for this even though the ability for it to be flexible to accommodate varying scenarios is starting to show through.

Also as I have said earlier and had to repeat to a local resident only an hour after the Reference Group meeting this is not about providing solutions for the Sturt Footy Club’s challenges. It has been my contention for a while that it will be the Sturt Cricket Club’s wish to return to Unley Oval that will challenge us more in ensuring the general community does not lose out. And this was born out last night at the meeting.

Having said that I believe that with continued hard work and a willingness by all who are contributing to come up with a workable solution we are likely to find one that will provide a better facility for all going forward.

As always of course. Watch This Space!

Unley Oval Master Plan set to come back to Council

The second draft of the Unley Oval Master Plan is set to come before Council again at it’s next sitting.

This will be July 8, due to the significant number of issues that have to come before us at this time of year. We will get a look next week in a workshop which will give us time to consider proposals being put before us.

This draft will incorporate observations provided to the consultants from the Clubs, and from Council on the original draft.

We will have to wait and see whether it can move onto the next stage of planning or whether we need to go back to the drawing board and have more modifications or even start afresh.

In the meantime it is my understanding that some informal lobbying is taking place with the Federal Election looming. Who knows there may be some funding available to start some of the plan, when finished, sooner rather than later.

Will Sturt become the Crows reserve team.

Sturt Footy Club President Jason Kilic spoke at the pre-match luncheon before the Sturt v Glenelg match at Unley Oval today and talked of the significant decision he and the other League Presidents have to make in the near future about the Crows proposal to have a reserves team.

Jason is one of nine people charged with a decision that will impact the local competition is ways that cannot be truly comprehended, whichever way they choose. One thing is for sure though he announced to those present at the Luncheon.

Sturt Footy club WILL NOT become the Crows reserves side. That is simply not on the agenda.

In a private conversation at the match he revealed to me his opinion that the Sturt Footy Club would lose their history and culture overnight. In other words Sturt would gain nothing from such a move. They would only lose….,big time.

And he believes the Crows would lose out too. Lets face it the Crows are a team for all South Australians, a mantel they could no longer claim if they took over Sturt.

We did discuss the options for which competition the Crows should play in and I can assure that at least one person responsible for the looming decision is thinking through the issues and options with a clear head.

One option may be for the Crows to become the tenth team in the SANFL league competition. If that happens then the closest the Crows would get to Sturt would be


Would be a good first game for the Crows reserves team I reckon. Of course if this were to happen I wonder whether the Unley Oval master plan has anticipated such a scenario.

on target to reach 4000 members but MUST work to get as close to 5000 as possible!

That is the quote of Sturt FC President Jason Kilic in summing up how the club is going with bolstering membership for 2013.

The club is working hard to address its financial situation based on good old membership and activity, with members promoting the club AND with on going and new sponsorship. It is good to see that the response on both fronts is largely positive.

There is a long way to go of course.

To see Jason’s full statement go to

It will be interesting to see how many front up on Saturday for the 1st round of the current season. This will signal I think where the heads of the supporters of this club and others are?

I will be there.

Sturt FC Goes Public – Council not in loop

So 5AA through Keith Conlon and Greame Goodings broke the great news that the Double Blues have secured a naming rights sponsor for Unley Oval after the Commander Group pulled out. Pity that because I have only just signed up with them.

I may have to stand corrected but I thought that under the lease agreement (yes the Oval does belong to the City of Unley) they (Sturt) had to obtain our approval. The strategy being the name should not create negative impacts on the community of Unley.

At the very least it would have been courtesy I believe for Council to have been informed. It is sure to inflame one or two councillors.

Anyway the naming rights have gone to Envestra, a gas supply company.

Sturt Blow Torch Back on Council

With all the rumblings surrounding the future of the Sturt Football club coinciding with the City of Unley Master Planning for Unley Oval we find the lease that Sturt has for the use of the ground is now up for review.

It appears we are in discussion with the Club as we speak which means a report will be coming to Council soon. When it does our administration will be asking for our approval to take a suggested lease package out to public consultation.

This is required under the Local Government Act (as recently reported on this blog site –

It will be interesting to see what lease package is put to Council for public consultation.

Today’s article in Adelaide Now questions whether Council is treating the Sturt FC favourably given the size of their lease compared to the leases noted in that blog post. If you are interested check out the link below to the Adelaide Now storey.

The big question in my mind right now is in what light do we at Council see the Sturt FC when compared to these other Clubs and why. Questions I will be asking when the time comes for our consideration of the lease.

John Halbert agrees with my claim on SANFL

I made mention in my last post on this blog site about the future of Sturt FC and indeed the future of the SANFL that they need to recognise they are a feeder league now.

For too long the SANFL and their clubs have been beating their chests about being the second best competition in Australia. They must recognise they ARE a feeder league and this does not fit with second best in land mentality.

They need to have a paradigm shift away from 2nd best to feeder and, as I said in my last post, cut their cloth accordingly.

Sturt Club stalwart John Halbert is sure every SANFL club must change its business model to survive.

“Look at the balance sheets – they are living beyond their means,” he said. “There is this fixation to be the second-best competition in the land. The salary cap in the SANFL is too high at $360,000 when compared to the WAFL and VFL.

“The result is we pump money into a scheme the clubs cannot afford, particularly when pokie revenue has declined.

“The argument that we risk losing players to country leagues if we cut the salary cap is ridiculous. If those players want to play in an inferior league, we are not going to be worse off as an SANFL.

“SANFL clubs need to cut their cloth to the level they can afford. Another area is coaches’ salaries – do we need full-time coaches in the SANFL?”

He also calls for an amalgamation with the Crows. Not sure about that but CUTTING YOUR CLOTH IS A MUST.

Tough Decsions Ahead for Sturt FC

Having made some tough decisions over the last year, cutting staff by half the Sturt Football Club is faced with making further tough decisions to stave off having to close the doors.

They came perilously close to closing the doors over summer, according to Adelaide Now quoting CEO Matt Benson.

Check out the Adelaide Now article in full by following the link.

Many may have been expecting this, or worse, and many may believe that worse is yet to come.

What is the answer. Short of a benefactor coming in like happened for my club North Adelaide FC a short while ago, the Sturt boys have still a lot of work to do.

They have, as part of what they have gone through looked long and hard at their situation and have determined they can not support a $2.0m per annum bill, as a number of other SANFL Clubs are. They have declared the simply must work on keeping costs to an income they believe they can sustain, namely $ 1.3m to $ 1.5m. COLD HARD FACTS.

Again I find myself agreeing with Matt Benson’s recent claim. The AFL must take responsibility for ensuring the success of grass roots footy. I suggest the majority of SANFL clubs would be not far behind Sturt quite frankly.

It does start however with all the 9 SANFL clubs recognising they are a feeder league and cutting their cloth accordingly. Clearly this starting at Sturt. If they succeed they will be the model for all other clubs to follow. If they don’t then the other clubs need to learn from their experience.

Two footnotes if I can:

1    If you are a Double Blues supporter then you need to get behind them….in a big way. If you don’t they may not be around to entertain you in the future.

2   This in no way should disrupt the process of master planning of Unley Oval. The only thing it should do is highlight the need for the future planning for this sporting and community precinct is for the need for flexibility.