Double Blues Financial Crisis impacts on Unley Oval Master Plan

The Double Blues (Sturt FC) continues to struggle financially and this, being mainstream news, interferes with the Master Planning currently underway by the City of Unley for the Unley Oval.

Sturt are in a parlous financial position of that there is no doubt, running up last year another $400,000 plus debt.

Mr Benson told the Eastern Courier Messenger unless the national competition paid SANFL clubs more for developing AFL players, clubs such as Sturt could be lost. This is the headline quote by Sturt CEO Matt Benson on the article in the following link


This is a good article and underpins a problem for SANFL Clubs. The AFL is a money making machine these days with the TV rights etc. The problem is, in my view the players have finally reached the point where they are getting too much money. The amount they are earning is being identified as a reason the players are having trouble with drugs, gambling and so on. That is another storey however.

If the AFL is going to be such a money earner then the responsiblity is their’s to look after the sport nationally. Make sure the grass roots is healthy so the future of the sport is guaranteed. The SANFL did a marvellous job of this in the past in this state but they no longer have the financial muscle to do this.

Matt Benson is correct. The AFL must look at ways that grass roots footy can not only survive but prosper. He is also right that Sturt have made mistakes in the past and they are paying for them. Can they survive; only time can tell?

Back to the Unley Oval Master Plan. Should Sturt’s financial situation prevent this plan going on.


The Master Plan is about developing this precinct for the future use of the Unley Community and that includes all users of the ground, from the Mum pushing a pram with her new born baby, to kids playing in a playground or on the Oval itself, to family picnics, to joggers and fitness buffs, to organised community activities, to sporting clubs.

Sturt is one of the clubs, indeed currently the major club user of the precinct.

The master plan needs to be developed so that it is flexible, something can accommodate Sturt no longer being with us (God forbid) and another sporting club taking it’s place (and that need not be football (again God forbid from my point of view).

Good luck Sturt FC. may you survive and become healthy again.

As one elected member I am looking to the first draft of the Master Plan taking into account all wishes from all who have contributed to the community consultation. A Plan with the flexibility to accommodate Sturt FC should they be with us in 15 to 20 years time. A Plan that can accommodate whoever might take their place if they are not.

Let us remember one thing with the Master Plan. it is about the future – 15 to 20 years from now. It has to be able to accommodate changes in who can use it because no-one can predict the fate of the organised activities currently using it.

Sturt a basket case or SANFL & their clubs under seige?

Yes once again we find the media is focusing on Sturt’sfinancial woes and their need to replace sponsorship now lost.

The Commander Group, as most of us by now know, have withdrawn their sponsorship for unspecified reasons. Guess what that is their business.

The news is that Sturt is actively seeking a replacement sponsor during a time when they have put a plea to members to save the club from their $2.0m debt. Could not come at a worse time but that is life. You deal with things as they happen.

I will be watching with interest who the naming sponsor might be. They (Sturt) are negotiating I believe) with two businesses now and an announcement is soon. I understand that, under our licencing agreement with them, we must approve the name.

Let us all hope that Sturt can solve their financial woes.

And don’t think they are alone as an SANFL club and that it has been all poor management in the past that has led to this.

The Central District Football Club, the yard stick for success in the SANFLover the last decade or so recently announced a plea to their supporters to help them out of a mess. They recorded a loss of $ 110,867.00 this last year. This is the second year in  arrow they have posted a loss. And this from a perennial finalist.

Not that long ago the SANFL announced that dividends to clubs would reduce in future. The SANFL is having financial challenges too.

The SANFL and its clubs have huge challenges in front of them in the near future. It would appear that the fact is that both the SANFL and their Clubs have to cut their cloth to suit their purse.

And Sturt are doing that. Having cut their administration twelve months ago they have cut further in as much as Dee Shepard, a tireless worker for the club, has moved on. Their administration is now very lean and mean.

I wonder if Adelaide Oval will help this cause.


I am sure we have not heard the last on this subject.

Unley Oval Back in the News

Unley Oval is back in the News for different reasons. While Council moves forward with the Master Planning the Sturt Football Club is back in the business of finding a naming sponsor.

Yes once again we find the media is focusing on Sturt’s financial woes and their need to replace sponsorship now lost.  More on that in a separate blog.

The real focus for Unley Oval however, as far as Council is concerned, is developing the Master Plan for the precinct. The Master Plan will provide a blueprint for development over time of the Oval and surrounds. Development designed to accommodate the future use of the ground for all the people using or having access to the facility.

In a weeks time the Company preparing the master plan will meet with Council to

1   Seek Elected Member input into the potential uses of the ground.
2   Brief Elected Members on the work thus far including advising on the information gleaned from a meeting recently of the Unley Oval Advisory Group; a meeting that gave those working on the plan an opportunity to hear from the current users of the facility. That included the current clubs and a group representing the residents of the area.

I expect to hear the the process is on schedule but can report on this after the briefing next week. Watch this space.

Sturt’s debt still in the news

The Sturt Footy Club can not stay out of the news it seems. Some Good News for a change though.

Some inroads have been made into their debt, which is great news I would have thought for all those associated with the Club and footy followers generally.

If you are interested in the details go to

As a footnote by the way the Unley Oval Master Plan process is underway. More news on that when it comes to hand.

Bali Memorial

The Bali Memorial held last Friday was an opportunity to remember, reflect and renew.

As I recover from an illness that unfortunately was manifesting itself last week I take pleasure in reporting on the Bali Memorial held last Friday at St Augustine’s Anglican Church at Unley and then onto the Memorial at Unley Oval.

I was asked by one of my colleagues in Council what is achieved by holding a ten year memorial.

This question was answered last Friday for all to see. The service which, as a Warden at St Augustine’s, I prompted with Sturt FC Matt Benson last year was an opportunity for the Sturt Footy Club to remember and pay respect for those they lost 10 years ago. It was an opportunity to reunite the Church and the Club after the Church’s then Priest Rev. Brenton Daulby provided Pastoral Care to the Club.

It was a chance for members of the club remember their colleagues.

As it turned out it was an opportunity for the State to remember, with the Governor, the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, the local Federal Member, the local State Member all attending the service at St Augustine’s and to lay wreathes at the Memorial at Unley Oval.

As the instigator of this event I felt a great sense of satisfaction that it was right to have suggested it.

Some 250 people attended the service.

I saw ex players who were in Bali swept up by the emotion and showing thanks for the opportunity to remember their mates. I saw the bond of people who endured a catastrophic event together. I saw the strength of an ex-player Julian Burton who reflected on how the Bali bombings changed the direction of his life.

Thanks go to Rev’d Peter Chilver of St Augustine’s who conducted the service, the Rev’d Brenton Daulby in returning home to St Augustine’s gave a sermon that put everything into perspective. I thank also Peta Treloar at the Club who put in tireless hours putting the logistics together and to Nick Swinlger for his energy likewise.

Thanks go to my fellow Councillor Michael Saise, who wrote and sang a song dedicated to the high of Grand Final win that year and the subsequent tragedy, and to the girls of the Walford Girls School band.

Thanks go to Unley Voices who sang beautifully at the service.

Thanks go also to Ian Haddy who controlled the audio and rang the bells, and to Bevan Lawry on Video.

And to anyone else who helped. You made a difference to many.

Sturt FC – Record put straight

After some frustration over this last year as noted in previous posts on this blog site about the future of Sturt FC at Unley Oval I took pleasure in reading a letter from Sturt’s CEO Matt Benson on one of my colleagues (Mike Hudson) blog sites.

Again I say that hopefully we can get on with the business of creating a master plan for Unley Oval, a master plan for all the users of this facility.

The letter…

Hi Mike,
Happy for you to put the following on your blog…
“The Sturt Football Club has been part of Unley for 111 years and wants to be part of it for the next 111 years. In the last two decades there has been acrimony between the club and some residents – we wish that wasn’t the case. The reality is that Sturt are not moving – we do not wish to move to Mt Barker or Wayville – but we wish to play 2 (two)_ games ONLY under lights at Norwood Oval. Unley Oval is our home. The club had virtually no option in the 1980′s but to move to Adelaide Oval for league games due to a (SANFL) ground rationalization strategy and significant financial pressure – the club however continued to be based, to train and to play junior games at Unley. Is Port Power’s home AAMI Stadium or Alberton Oval? Please understand that the media will always endeavor to fire up a debate – we are coincidentally dealing today with a fictitious headline that the Adelaide Football Club (the Crows) are taking us over. This is untrue. This is an unfortunate story on the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings – where we lost two club stalwarts.
Mike Hudson has kindly offered me this opportunity – to place a comment on his blog page. I can therefore confirm unequivocally:
1. The club wishes to be part of Unley and Unley Oval for the next 111 years.
2. The club obviously supports the opportunity to contribute to a planning process that aims to significantly improve our facilities at Unley Oval;
3. The club does not expect the Council to wholly pay for any upgrade, but wishes to work with the Council and other stakeholders to achieve funding and a mutually beneficial result.
4. The club believes that the Unley Oval should be a premium sporting facility that is uniquely available to the community when not being used for sport.
5. The club uses half of its 700 hour annual occupation of Unley Oval for junior development programs – fact;
6. The club’s senior teams use Unley oval for approximately 350 hours per year – fact;
7. The club has a core (bank) debt of approx $2.2m which it is working to extinguish.
I respect Mike’s passion re the Unley Oval and its availability to residents. I have always however been miffed at the conflicting message re negativity about Sturt’s departure from Unley Oval for league games on the one hand (which resulted in the current layout and I assume is welcomed), and the somewhat aggressive approach in the defense of the layout that has resulted. Isn’t Sturt’s enforced departure in the 1980′s therefore a good thing? No? Yes? I am confused.
The Sturt Football Club will not steal your children – or have your kidney taken out in the middle of the night!! The club is part of Unley – wishes to work with our neighbours, wants the best for its players and members, and is focused on continuing as a positive and generous member of the local community. No cards up any sleeves- NONE! Of course we would be derelict in our duty not to want the best for our great and proud club- but our view is that we are all in this together!
Thanks, Mike, once again – let’s work together on improving Unley Oval for everyone, as a community — because Sturt aren’t going anywhere”.
Matt Benson.

Bali – 10 years on – Memorial

A 10 year Memorial Service is to be held at St Augustine’s Anglican Church followed by laying of wreathes at the memorial at Unley Oval later this month.

10 years ago members of the Sturt Football Club, celebrating their winning of that year’s SANFL premiership, were caught up in the bombing that shook the world. At that time many in the club were counselled by the then Rector of St Augustine’s, Brenton Daulby.

It was fitting therefore for I felt when (as a Warden at the church) I suggested about a year ago that St Augustine’s host a memorial service for the club. Little did I realise when making the offer on behalf of the Church to Sturt CEO Matt Benson that it would be as big as it appears to have become.

The service will be on the anniversary Friday October 12, commencing at the Church at 9.30 am. Those attending will then take the short walk down Oxford Terrace to the Oval for the laying of wreathes at the Memorial at around 10.05 am.

We are expecting a number of prominent citizens of South Australia including amongst them, the Governor, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, the local member, the Mayor and elected members of the City of Unley.

Those wishing to pay their respects are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Sturt v Unley – It Just Does Not Go Away

Following on from my post on this blog site on the weekend (and many before that) regarding Unley Oval and Sturt FC I received an email with the following transcript from Sturt FC.

Dear Don, 

The Club wishes to clarify some comments made in the Sunday Mail yesterday. We have sought for some time the opportunity to play night football at Coopers Stadium (The Parade) and have been open and transparent on that point. The fact that the Adelaide Oval (where we used to play 2 night games  per year since 1998) is now out of the question means that this is an obvious alternative.

Night football is very popular at SANFL level and at the present time the club is unable to take advantage of this fact – to our financial detriment – and obviously we wish to do so. We are in negotiations to determine whether this will be possible in 2013. The club wishes to make it clear that we would still play our ‘day’ home games at Commander Centre (Unley) Oval on the other 8 or so occasions. To date, there have been no decisions made on this issue but we will keep you posted.

As someone who has been an active participant at looking at the future of Unley Oval I have become increasingly frustrated by some who are derailing our efforts to come up with an Unley Oval for all with the future in mind, whether intentionally or unintentionally by making it something  to do with Sturt.

I would not mind betting that they too are frustrated at all the innuendo they have to continually respond to instead of focusing on solving their financial issues.

Community Asset Review

While the media and others play with words and make all sorts of assertions about the Unley Oval and the future of the Sturt Football Club the next phase of the Community Assets Review is to be decided tomorrow night at the next full meeting of Council.

This phase is to call tenders from prospective consultants for master planning of the Oval precinct.

This will take I would have thought 3 or 4 weeks. We would then have to review the tenders received, select a preferred tenderer and then action the start of the process in the following month or so. It would be good to see the selected consultant be able to commence work by January next year.

There is clearly a lot of interest out there in the community so the sooner we get this underway the sooner we can start seeing suggestions for Council and the community to consider. The sooner we all can have something to get our teeth into and debate.

Until master planning is done there is no plan. Without a plan there is nothing that will happen to the precinct other than by way of add hoc projects conceived on the run to address issues that come up without notice.

Master Planning is about determining how the precinct should be developed in the next 20 years to serve the needs of our future community, including the sports clubs that have relevance to the needs of the community in the future and the recreation needs of this same community. I look forward therefore to seeing something with vision, something with the flexibility, something that will inspire the current generation to provide for the next generation and beyond.

A facility for the Unley community……vs …………. allowing our facilities to run down because we don’t know how or why we will be using them down the track.

So please ignore all the innuendo in the media and let us get under way in doing some serious planning. Once this is done we will have something to talk about and the media and you can get involved.

And as far as the recent article about it being about Sturt and we should not call tenders until we know Sturt’s financial position is all lunacy. If we should know their financial situation we should explore the financial situation of all clubs at all three locations we intend to do master planning for.

It is like planning a trip from Adelaide to Melbourne but not commencing the journey until we know all the traffic lights are green, Guess what – we will never leave home.

When Right May be Wrong

Last night Council made what I consider to be the correct decision regarding a proposal for a trial of partial fencing around the perimeter of the Unley Oval but I wonder whether it was for all the wrong reasons.

Indeed I seconded the motion to not agree with the recommendation for a trial which came from the Unley Oval Advisory Group.

The Unley Oval Advisory Group is made up of 4 resident representatives, representatives from each of the sporting clubs, and 2 elected members. This group, with clear strong resident representation, thought seriously that a trial would be a logical and sensible approach to

1   addressing an issue that has hovered over this precinct since the return of the Sturt Football Club some time ago from their short sojourn to Adelaide Oval and,

2   addressing a need facing Council  in resourcing labour to erect the fencing for each home match of the Sturt Football Club and a need in the near future to consider replacing the fencing as it reached its use by date.

Whilst I believe the correct decision was made I am concerned that, for some, the decision may have been for other than what I consider to be the correct reasons. That being that it is inappropriate that we do anything at the Oval the preempts Master Planning at the Oval which, if all goes well, will commence sometime early next year.

Should fencing around the perimeter of the Oval be something worth considering it should only be a part of a range of suggestions for the Precinct that comes out of a Master Plan. And part of Master Planning includes Community Consultation.

Arguments outside of this logic and which  focused on the Sturt FC were in my opinion irrelevant to the real debate and the reasons the Advisory Group felt a need to make the recommendation, even though the gallery on the night were encouraged by them.

I feel for the Residents who have donated their time to participate in the Unley Oval Advisory Group.

These people have contributed well in my opinion to the group and have tried at all times to recognise the interests of all members of this small community when discussing issues that have come before it. Part of the argument last night and the hype may have some of these residents second guessing why they should participate in the Advisory Group because of the tenure of some of the debate that occurred last night.

The Community of the City of Unley need people like this, who are prepared to put in time and effort to make this a better place, a place wheer we can all live, work, rest and play in harmony.

I hope that they do not let what happened last night sway them for continuing to contribute.

Picket Fences around Unley Oval


Will picket fences be considered under a yet to be commenced Master Plan for Unley Oval or will they sneak in through the back door before the plan starts.

This is effectively what is on the line when Council debates on Monday night (at …. don’t forget….. Goodwood Community Centre) a trial of fencing in isolated locations around the Oval in the coming months.

At their recent meeting the Unley Oval Advisory Group felt it might be a good idea to trial fencing around the oval (in sections only) to gauge how well they may work to address OHSW concerns of Sturt FC.  It was also felt by the group that it would give Council an opportunity to gauge how well received fencing may or may not be by the residents who use the area when organised sporting activities are not being conducted on the ground.

There has been widespread media attention to Sturt’s “need” for picket fencing.

The trial however will be using the fencing that is currently erected each home game and herein lies what I believe, as a member of the Unley Oval Advisory Group, was the real impetus behind considering such a trial.
 Our management responsible for erecting and dismantling the fencing for these home games (yes this is done at our cost, not Sturt’s) are concerned at the age of the fencing and the logistics of conducting this exercise, on weekends. Having enough staff to be available is proving a concern to our management and as we approach the time when we must make a decision to replace this temporary fencing because it is no longer usable we are being faced with a need to consider whether we should continue to use temporary fencing at cost to our ratepayers or come up with another solution.
In accepting these concerns it is not unreasonable for the Advisory Group to make the suggestion they have to Council and I support that right.
I have a serious concern however, as a Councillor that the timing of this is inappropriate in that it should not be done without first having been considered as part of the Master Planning for this facility. It is simply wrong to make decisions about new or changed infrastructure before Master Planning is carried out.
As the Master Planning is not ready yet to commence I will be encouraging Council to not proceed even though I am a member of the group proposing it.

Let’s get into the Master Planning, which will address the needs of ALL the clubs using the Oval and surrounds AND importantly the residents who use it as well.


PS   I will report the decision made on Monday night as soon as I am able so watch this space.

Unley Oval

It was great to see our CEO follow on from comments I made in my post of 3rd July regarding Sturt FC and Unley Oval under the heading community assets review.

His letter to the editor of the Eastern Courier refers. (Sorry but if you want to know what he has to say .. get a copy of this week’s Eastern Courier).

It is good to see also that as a member of both the community assets review committee for council and as a member of the Unley Oval Advisory Group that the press does not know more than I do. I must say I was starting to wonder reading some of the articles in the last few weeks.

As a member of those groups I am keen to see us move forward to creating a workable master plan that works for residents and works also for the clubs (including Sturt) using this and other facilities. This will take time and any preempting of the results will be counter productive in my view.

I note that council last Monday night at the City Strategy & Policy committee meeting agreed to investigate short term leasing options for the building containing Jack’s bar to buy time while the master planning process begins. To do otherwise would have been a mistake.

As we move forward it was great to see Sturt’s CEO Matt Benson in a letter to council indicate that the club is recognising the need to focus on where they want to be in the future, encouraged by Council’s Community Assets Review.

Now onto more important news.

I will be hading off to what used to be called the “Ponderosa” to see the double blues take on the team of the last decade in Centrals to pursue their claim on the top five. Go Blues!

Unley Council is new landlord of Sturt FC BarZaar property

Unley Council has purchased from Australia Post the property of 166 Unley Road , the site that houses the Sturt Football Club’s BarZaar.

The following is an extract of a press release from Council.

The City of Unley’s purchase of 166 Unley Road from Australia Post is a significant step in the development of the Unley Central Precinct.

166 Unley Road, currently occupied by the Bar Zaar Restaurant and Bar adjoins the Council-owned Memorial Public Car Park (168) in the heart of the Unley Central Precinct.

City of Unley Mayor Lachlan Clyne said “Council’s $2.1 million strategic purchase enables Council and the community to work together to unlock the precinct’s potential and positively influence the development of a vibrant hub for the Unley Central Precinct.”

Mayor Clyne said Council’s ownership of both properties (166 and 168) is an advantage.

“The relationship between 166 and 168 Unley Road is significant,” Mayor Clyne said.

“166 has significant property rights and interests, including easements, encumbrances and right of way that impact 168.

“The purchase means Council will control both properties; however it will be business as usual for the owners of Bar Zaar. This creates greater flexibility for Council to facilitate a comprehensive development and avoid a piecemeal approach that fails to do justice to the precinct.”

Mayor Clyne said Council will facilitate a co-ordinated, mixed-use development to invigorate the Unley Central Precinct.

“Several years ago, Council identified the need for a master plan for the Unley Central Precinct,” he said.

“The combination of 166 and 168 creates a large rectangular site that enables a master plan approach.

“We want to see medium density, around six storey’s, with a mix of businesses, retail, community facilities and residential spaces. Council, together with the community, will drive the future direction of the Unley Central Precinct and set the agenda for an integrated and high-quality development.

“This means more people, jobs and community facilities and, importantly, a vibrant heart for Unley. This is good for Unley and all South Australians.”

The master plan for the Unley Central Precinct is expected to be developed with community input over the next two to four years.

Mayor Clyne said this master plan will be part of the “bigger picture” for Unley Road and the area.

“The Unley Central Precinct master plan will complement Unley Road as a whole, to ensure maximum benefit for the community and businesses,” he said.

Sturt FC Volunteer of the Year Award

A quarter of a century of loyal devotion as a volunteer for the Sturt Football Club has seen Peggy Paech become the inaugural winner along with husband Reg (who has given 20 years of similar loyalty to the club) of the City of Unley Mayor’s Sturt Football Club Volunteer of the Year Award.

Peggy was most humble in accepting the award saying her reward is being at the matches and seeing her team play. This is probably one of the reasons she won the award.

The award was presented by Mayor Lachlan Clyne who felt that rewarding volunteers for their efforts and dedication is a fitting part of the football calendar, noting that players have a number of awards they can have access to.

Well Done Peggy and Reg.

And well done Mayor Clyne for coming up with a great initiative.

Another Victory for people power

As noted in the website of our Federal member for Adelaide there is good news for all SANFL supporters, whether you follow Unley’s team Sturt or any other team.

The ABC has backed down on their decision to stop televising SANFL games.


That means the new TV platform installed at Unley Oval, to allow televising will actually get used.