Monday, 22 January 2018

2017 AGM / Northcote friendly

How's this for creative fixturing? Wednesday sees a unique South Melbourne Hellas double-header, with the 2017 AGM (naturally held in 2018) followed by a pre-season friendly against Northcote. Even better, the AGM is going to be held in the social club, at the same time as the social club has been advertised as being open to the hoi polloi prior to the Northcote fixture from 6:15PM onwards.

There's so many problems with this approach, who knows where to start? Are we seriously going to have food and drink service during the AGM? The last and to the best of my recollection only other meeting we had in the current social club was this informal session, which had a small attendance but which had a bunch of juniors making a lot of noise and making it very hard to hear. Goodness knows it will be like with the terrible acoustics if we have a much larger attendance and a whole bunch of non-members in the room.

Speaking of which, AGM attendance for the South Melbourne Hellas portion of the club (and not its SMFC subsidiary) is and should remain the preserve of those who are currently members of South Melbourne Hellas - in other words, social club club members. Are we seriously going to have a whole bunch of people in the room observing the meeting who should not be doing so? Vigilance of non-social club members at South Melbourne AGMs is often not as good as it should be, but this seems mad even by our own standards.

Anyway, as per usual the AGMs (South Melbourne Hellas Social Club 6:00PM, SMFC 8:00PM) are the one official chance that members have to question the board on its performance and on its future plans. That doesn't mean that anything good will come out of these meetings, but you've got to take the opportunities you're given; after all, not all of us have a direct line to the top brass.

There's a lot of issues to get through, and while holding the AGM on midweek in January is a piss-poor effort on so many levels, we don't really have a choice in that matter. Speaking of not having any choices, while I'm sure there will be people going in all guns blazing, the chance of something changing due to those efforts is close to zero. Significant change (for better or worse) can only happen if there is a rival group - not one or two individuals - who are willing to form a ticket to challenge the current iteration of the board, which has been in charge of the club in one form or another since the end of the NSL, mostly under the presidency of Leo Athanasakis.

That needs people with a lot of spare time, as well as the requisite business and football connections, and where you find enough of those kinds of people that still support South I do not know. I don't make this point out of some sense of vengeance, but rather as a statement of fact. Yes we are a member run and owned club, but the situation is such that even if a plurality of our membership wanted to dislodge the board, who would we replace them with? That is the question that has hovered over the club for the past decade, and in some respects was true of the era before that. Once a board gets set under a figurehead president at South Melbourne, it can be very hard to dislodge.

Anyway, my main concerns this time around the operation of the social club and futsal court, which seemed to have been done with so little planning that it has undermined others areas of the club, both in the short term (in terms of being unable to maintain paid employees at the club) and in the long term (what happens when the government stipend ends if we don't have a profitable social club business?). There's also the ongoing issues with the State Sports Centres Trust, and the constantly moving goalposts set up to hinder our business. Additionally, there are the usual governance issues - AGM timing, financials, and why Leo feels he needs to do most of the presentations - hopefully every board member is there this time.

My feelings on South AGMs are pretty well known. After the first couple I attended, I was disappointed enough with the lack of questions and information that I decided it eventually time to do some preparation of my own; nothing major, just enough to show someone cared. That lead to better AGMs and better prepared board members, and more . As jaded as I am about the potential for further improvement of South AGMs at the moment, it's still important to take them seriously.

And yes, I will be putting up a post-AGM post.


  1. It is quite extraordinary that the top brass at South would decide to hold an AGM in the Social Club at the same time as when it is being advertised to be open to all patrons for a practice match later that night????? What will happen is that patrons who are there for the practice match will gain access to the private dealings of the Club without purchasing the requisite membership! You might even have the situation of patrons asking questions, thinking they can because they have been allowed access to such an event simply because they were able to enter the Social Club. There could be Futsal matches scheduled during the AGM, with balls thundering against the glass pane making it even more chaotic than needs be.

    Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the disdain and contempt the Board holds for its membership. You quite rightly point out that there is paucity of candidates prepared to form a rival ticket to challenge the current Board. Given the lack of threat, that unfortunately provides the Board with a general level of comfort that they will not be removed or voted out. As such, this has the perverse outcome of ‘perceived’ reduced accountability, and the more likely event is some of the Board treating the Club as their personal fiefdom.

    Just when you think the Club cannot hit any lower than rock bottom, the Board decides to find a way to better that and drive us further into a quagmire of mediocrity and general malaise of indifference towards its stakeholders.

  2. There are a number of serious issues that require further clarification and should be answered at the AGM. These include:

    Social Club Redevelopment
    *What was the final total cost of the development of the Futsal Court and amenities, Club Office and furnishings/fittings, Bistro, and Museum?
    *What is the current level of outstanding liabilities (debt) on the whole redevelopment? How much of the outstanding liabilities is in the form of business loans and leasing arrangements?
    *Have the Board given personal guarantees to secure the debt facilities to cover the costs of the redevelopment?
    *Are there any further outstanding bills related to the redevelopment?

    *How has the bistro performed over the last 7-8 months? What is the average monthly turnover, and how has the bistro generated a profit?
    *Why did the previous Venue Manager resign from the role only 6 months into the role?
    *Is the Board in the process of finding a replacement Venue Manager? When is it expected that the position will be filled?
    *Is the Board considering outsourcing the Bistro to an external party? If yes, have any operators submitted any interest? What kind of arrangement would the Club be seeking?

    Futsal Court
    *Is it true the Club was approached in early 2017 by a futsal operator to run the Futsal Court and offered a very generous sum of money for the Club to reject it?
    *How many nights a week is the Futsal Court running competitions? How many teams are participating in competitions?
    *It is rumoured that the only night that futsal competitions are run is each Wednesday. How is the Futsal Court being utilised on other weeknights?
    *Is the Club looking at outsourcing the futsal operations to an external provider? If yes, have any operators submitted any interest?

    A League
    *What is the current status of the club’s A League application? Have there been further discussions held with FFA, FFV, or any other potential corporate partners?
    *Was there a commercial arrangement (e.g. appearance fee) for Roberto Carlos to travel to Australia to attend that event at Crown Palladium? Did the event cover its costs? If not, what was the liability the club had to cover? Or did the Board underwrite that event?

    Second Division
    *Has the Club met with other with interested NPL clubs/possible new established clubs to discuss the logistical and financial requirements for such a new competition?

    General Club Operation
    *Why has the club registered a financial loss with so m any sources of revenue?
    *What is the Club doing to restrain the growth in costs in both its off field and on field operations?
    *Has the club grown its sponsorship base? If yes, by what percentage?
    *Has the SMFC in Business been a success? Has it assisted with the Club to grow its sponsor base?
    *How can the club make Lakeside Stadium feel more like our own home?

    *What is the current status of the relationship between SMFC and the SSCT?
    *It is rumoured that there has been a new contractual arrangement put in place? What has changed since the previous agreement, and how will the Club benefit from the new arrangement?
    *Do the issues of access to Lakeside Stadium continue?

    General Business
    *Are there any new individuals that will seek to join the Board in 2018?
    *Why have membership packages seen reduced benefits, but prices remain constant?
    *Why has the Club moved away from Puma to Kappa? Please outline how this a more beneficial commercial arrangement to the Club?
    *Are there any players/coaches still unpaid from the 2017 season?

    Schools Football Programs
    *How many schools is SMFC providing its football curriculum? What are the commercial benefits to SMFC?
    *Are there any new schools that will see SMFC expand its footprint to?

    1. Some more questions to add to the list:

      *Has the club evaluated its initiatives to bring players based in Spain for a season? For instance, Moreno was hardly used in the Senior team and effectively used to win the Under 20 championship?
      *Who makes the decisions in the Football Department about the signing of visa spot players?
      *Is the club paying any agent fees for the signing of these Spanish players?
      *What is the current status of Tim Mala? Has he retired from football?
      *Which players from the Under 20 team are capable of stepping up to the Senior Team?

    2. Events
      *What plans is the Club putting together to assist with debt reduction and help pay off the social Club redevelopment. If the answer is no, why is that the case? Should the club not focus on debt reduction through specific fundraising events?
      * Is the club looking at holding monthly events at the social club? If no, why not? The social club space needs to be maximised for its revenue opportunities.

  3. Club is a shambles. Just hold the AGM in the Presidents Room FFS.

  4. Did they even release the financials anywhere?


      Scroll to bottom of the page

  5. Interesting to see if the whole board will rock up? If there were media there for A League announcement, they'd all be there grinning. What a joke.

  6. Debt is almost what they gov gave the club for redevelopment. What a joke total mismanagement of the place.

  7. Meeting has been moved to the Presidents Room.


A few notes on comments.

We've had a lot of fun over the years with my freewheeling comments policy, but all good things must come to an end. Therefore I will no longer be approving comments that contain personal abuse of any sort.

Still, if your post doesn't get approved straight away, it's probably because I haven't seen it yet.

As usual, publication of a comment does not mean endorsement of its content.