Following last week's article on the Wellington Investments loan debt, Ta Nea has followed it up with another piece on what they're calling an 'exclusive exposé on the South Melbourne Football Club'.
Now I'd put up a scan of this latest article as was done for the previous effort, but I couldn't come up with an image capture that I felt was of adequate quality. In other words, it was too pixelated and grainy and stuff.
This time the article starts off with a justification being made as to why they're reporting on this issue, with a heady dose of emotion thrown in. I'm not too fond of the emotional blackmail attempt, because as a news service they have every right to report on South Melbourne or any other issue they want to.
As with last week, they list a series of issues or questions they believe the club needs to answer, this week using a numbering system as opposed to the infamous letter based method which saw 'point c' fail to show up (or point γ for γαμώτο as recently tweeted by Athas Zafiris).
The first point covers much the same ground as the first point covered in last week's article - namely, the status of the Lakeside lease, and why the final papers haven't been signed yet. Which is odd because South president Leo Athanasakis addressed that issue in the Neos Kosmos article, which only came into being because of Ta Nea's original article.
What's strange is that later on in in this week's Ta Nea article, there is reference made to the aforementioned Neos Kosmos article, but more on that later.
I'm not sure if this is deliberate misinformation or just poor wording, but they also write that South relinquished Lakeside Stadium, when in fact South relinquished the remaining six or so years of its exclusive lease - lest there be any confusion on the matter, South never owned Lakeside or any portion of it.
The second question is an intriguing one - 'are there any disgruntled suppliers of the club?'. I would have loved to seen some elaboration on this question from Ta Nea, but alas, the question just dangles there, only partially formed.
Their third point asks why SMFC does not contribute financially to the South Melbourne Women's FC. If I had to answer that, I'd probably say it's because the two clubs are separate entities, who are still (reportedly, anyway, though progress has been so slow as to make you wonder), trying to reach agreement as to how to move forward, hopefully under the same umbrella. I was under the assumption that this was fairly widely known. I wonder if SMWFC were asked to comment on this article?
Question four is more or less a repeat of last week's point 'd', asking where the $30,000 a month received from the government is going. Mismanagement is certainly being implied here, but nothing specific is detailed, and I really wish there had been. This kind of vague writing does no service to the issues, nor to Ta Nea. What's worse, if the implied mismanagement allegations are not true, will they be corrected in a prominent manner?
Question five actually tackles the issue of the juniors revamp in a relatively half decent manner. The price hike is quite significant, and it means that there will be talented players for whom South Melbourne will not be an option. One wonders though, again, how much research Ta Nea conducted on this matter? Did they attend the club's info night? Did they read my report of that info night?
Which brings us back to the Neos Kosmos article and the issue of the club's lease. One detail not brought up by either Neos Kosmos, or Ta Nea in its two articles, is the apparently imminent beginning of South's social club redevelopment, which will be entirely funded (at least according to the board) by a government grant of about $900,000. If the lease was on such thin ice, wouldn't it be worth reporting on that matter also? Or is it only access to the Lakeside Stadium playing field that is in doubt?
Now, I'm all for the protection of journalistic sources, and especially of corporate or government whistle-blowers, who need the protection of anonymity. But when Ta Nea identifies the positions that their sources have held at South, the anonymity of these sources is pointless, and only hurts the credibility of their reporting. Also problematic is that once again, there is a lack of a byline on the article.
I'm also interested in Ta Nea's sudden interest in the decline in South's membership numbers and attendance at AGMs. Again, if they had done even the most basic research, they would find two very obvious reasons for this. In terms of South's AGM numbers, since attendance is open only to social club members and life members, and not to season ticket holders, naturally there will a lower turnout for these things.
Is it the right approach? I'm not so sure. I think season ticket holders should be allowed to attend, though they should be barred from voting on matters relating to South Melbourne Hellas Soccer Club, which is the umbrella group which runs everything else. Melbourne Knights reportedly allow all of its members or season ticket holders to attend their AGM. But our arrangement is not unusual. Melbourne based AFL clubs use much the same system as we do.
In terms of membership numbers, blaming this board (or any board, for that matter) for that is ludicrous. I'd ask them to name just one sporting team in Australia, that's fallen permanently from the top tier, who have retained a significant amount of their top tier supporter base. Their assertions early on in the article, about the community supporting the club through the glory days of the 1970s, 90s etc, somehow fail to mention the lack of support the community has given to the club since the club returned to the VPL
When someone claims to be conducting an exposé, I want something substantial, something that will genuinely uncover gross incompetence or corruption. These articles have done neither. Frankly, half-arsed reporting like Ta Nea's recent articles belongs on blogs, not in the 'legitimate press'.