I didn't really take any notes, except for about four compact notepad lines on my phone. If I missed something important, it was probably while I accidentally spilled about eight Eclipse mints across the table.
Anyway, slightly smaller attendance than I'd anticipated, but what did I anticipate? It doesn't matter. I think there's still people who are COVID-shy, which is totally understandable, and hey - it's the week before Christmas, which is hardly the big ticket time for attracting people to non-AGM related South gatherings.
And maybe people had better or more important things to do. Having relocated what might be an apricot sapling from a pot to an empty space in my front yard, all my tasks for the day were done; and thus I was free to attend a South event for the first time since April.
Representation from the board on an official front was from president Nick Maikousis, and secretary and treasurer Mario Vinaccia.
Speaking of the AGM, the club has received a COVID extension from ASIC, and thus the AGM will be held some time in February. One reason given for this is that the auditor needs to visit the club in person to see the books, something which has not been possible thus far because of the pandemic; or something like that.
We are assured that unlike all the other times, this time it is genuinely all above board. And I believe them, not least because I'm too tired to argue, but also as an extension of goodwill on my part to people working hard under difficult circumstances to make the club better.
There was some discussion on the club's attempts at establishing its business coterie group, which has been hampered by the pandemic. The discussion from the floor seemed focused mostly on finding ways for the pleb South Melbourne member to be able to make use of the networking opportunities the coterie is designed to provide to its clientele.
On the matter of the composition of the senior men's team for next season, I would not expect too many more new faces. The club appears to believe that it has a strong contingent of youth prospects - even if it also appears that the club is not sure if it fluked this cohort, or actually somehow planned for them to become available all at once.
There was talk, as there has been in previous seasons, that the club is cutting costs on its senior wage bill. If the club uses more youth team players to fill out the senior men's squad, there's every chance that this claim of cutting the senior men's team wage bill might actually be true this time; or at least more true.
Apparently, rather than the wage bills of NPL Victoria senior men's teams taking a hit because of the pandemic, the suggestion seemed to be made that in fact more money was being spent on senior men's teams for the coming NPL season. If that's true, then I wish those players raking it in all the best. Take 'em for every last cent!
On the matter of memberships for next season, as promised the question was thrown open to the floor, with the board to take on - but not necessarily act upon - the advice offered. The main question is of course for 2020 financial members who were if not outright promised that their 2020 membership would rollover to 2021, than at least had that possibility offered as a suggestion earlier this year by Maikousis during one of his pre-recorded briefings to the members.
Unsurprisingly, the board's starting and/or preferred position seemed to be that 2020 members should pay the regular rate of membership dues. The supporters in attendance tended to veer to the opposite view, but there was also the suggestion made by some supporters that 2020 members could pay a discounted rate of $50, which is analogous to the rate paid by active life members. It will of course be interesting to see what the board settles on, because I don't think they were all that thrilled with the $50 amount.
At the same time, the pandemic has impacted people in a variety of ways, and of course the club should take that into consideration, not forgetting also that apart from the shortened season, we only got two home games in anyway. One member managed to articulate the question that seemed to have hitherto gone unspoken; that being the question of establishing goodwill from the board's part. I assume we'll find out what the board finally settle on in the new year.
But generating goodwill between the board and ordinary members, however difficult, needs to be a top priority. The relationship between the late Athanasakis-era board and the ordinary supporter got to a frankly poisonous stage. Goodwill takes a lot of time to build up, and mere seconds to destroy.
On to the matter of the National Second Division. There will be a white paper released (I think) next month. The club is of the position that it would prefer a 2022 start, but it seems we could end up with a 2023 start. Some people from the floor were less optimistic than even that. Assuming we get in to the NSD of course! So much yet remains to be made official that it is difficult to talk with any certainty about the future of promotion-relegation and a National Second Division.
COVID has thrown its own spanner in the works, including creating realignments within the balance of power of Australian soccer, probably weakening almost everyone, but some groups more than others. Using my powers of discretion I won't elaborate too much on the thoughts of Maikousis on the scheme as a whole, except to say:
- that the goal remains for South to enter such a competition at the earliest opportunity.
- that despite the high degree of interest from clubs around the country in participating in a National Second Division, that the cost of doing so may prove to be more prohibitive than people would like.
The NSD is not a favourite topic of mine, in part because I acknowledge that I am largely incapable of understanding and assessing the merits of what is being proposed as it relates to the scheme's practicality. I recognise my deficiencies in matters of finance, accounting, and logistics, and leave these matters to people who have more information than I do, and hopefully comprehend it to a suitable level.
Ah, there I go apologising for dodging the question again. One observation of mine from a cultural perspective, is that the goal of establishing an NSD along with promotion-relegation to all tiers, is that such a scheme is in a race against the desires of the extant A-League licence holders. Who will get to their promised land first, and will the imminent unbundling of the A-League from Football Australia bring riches or disaster upon the house of A-League?
And my goodness, until this pandemic business gets sorted out, and the top-flight's long-term broadcast deal with it, there's too many variables. But I digress.
While it appears certain that our first game of the 2021 season will be played away at Heidelberg, the club seemed hopeful that it would still manage to get two home games within the first six rounds of the coming season. From what I understand from a sidebar conversation I had during the meeting, the 2021 fixture is more or less settled.
There has been a mutual and apparently amicable termination of the social club catering arrangement with the lease holder. The club is exploring its options on that front.
It appears that the taekwondo folk could end up hiring the futsal court space for some time yet, providing a welcome medium term revenue source to the club.
There were a brief mention of the improved relationship with the Trust, and the soon be signed deal for the pavillion down at Middle Park.
That about covers the main points of the meeting.