Thursday, 25 February 2021

Notes from last week's 2020 AGMs

A little overdue, fairly brief, and posted without any sense of popular demand,

A small, dispiriting turnout, even taking into account the AGMs being held in mid-week, in late February, and during the pandemic. Issues also persist with the membership database.

Bill Papastergaidis chaired the meeting, and began with the claim that 2021 would be a great year for South Melbourne. Representing the club on of the evening were Papastergiadis, president Nick Maikousis, secretary Eric Zimmerman, and treasurer Mario Vinaccia. There were other board members present, but not active in being on the presenter's front panel. There were also absentee board members, though who can keep track of all the comings and goings to be able to name names. 

The bulk of the presentation was made up of the treasurer's report and the president's report. The treasurer's report was first. Though presented with due care by the treasurer, the financial report for the 2019/20 financial year was difficult to assess on its merits (even taking into account my novice understanding of finances) because it is now effectively nine months past its reporting date, and because the full impact of the pandemic and lockdown.

These issues were unavoidable, and I offer no criticism on that front. Vinaccia was upfront about the challenges facing the club because of the lockdown, and the plans that had to be put on hold because of the pandemic, including both in terms of paying off certain debts, as well as increasing sponsorship revenues.

What was presented in terms of the hit that the club took from the pandemic - from the tail-end of 2019, and until at least the first half the year - is that revenue and expenses largely remained steady, albeit understandably lessened by the shutdown of football in early 2020. 

Among the budgetary challenges approaching the club is the end of the more generous term of the monthly government stipend, and how that decrease in revenue will need to be made up from other sources. The club had been attempting to set up coterie and sponsorship arrangement prior to the onset of the pandemic, which seemed to have an initial degree of success, but were undermined by all that's come to pass. Still, the club will persist with this plan, because it must.

Much stock is being in establishing and participating in a National Second Division which, while it would increase expenses, would also increase revenue opportunities, memberships and attendance, and value for sponsors. If you haven't noticed a narrative thread here, adding value for sponsors is a big focus for the club in general.

The treasurer did note however that the pandemic allowed the cub to recalibrate its organisational and financial strategy, including taking care of cleaning up matters with both debtors and creditors including the well-publicised settlement reached with former coach Chris Taylor. And no, the exact details of the settlement were not prised out of the committee.

Within the president's report were recognition of the hard work undertaken by people at club to broaden its scope, in this case the powerchair and blind football teams, but also the juniors. It's been a long time coming, but we've had another rebuild of the junior wing. We are close to signing a deal to take control of the pavilion down Middle Park way, something which was in the pipeline for some time, but got interrupted by the pandemic.

The social club kitchen will have a new match day operator (under the club's control), with promises of better quality and faster service. As noted in previous posts, the club reached an amicable termination of the agreement with the previous operator of the social club space.

Maikousis noted that he was close to signing a lucrative deal for exclusive usage of the futsal court space by the taekwondo folk, which will hopefully see the space bring in the revenue it has largely failed to do so for some years now.

The pro-shop will get a new fitout courtesy of Kappa, which may be ready by round 2.

Covid restrictions for Lakeside Stadium are ongoing affair prone to changes in government health policy. At the time of the AGM last week, Victoria was still in a state of limited reopening following on from the most recent lockdown. While special permissions could have been granted under those circumstances for larger crowds, the likelihood of that happening was low. However, now that restrictions have been loosened, things may be a little different.

Inquiries are being made to see what kind of improvements can be squeezed out of governments and organising bodies, in order to improve player amenities at Lakeside Stadium, 2023 Women's World Cup. That's in the event that Lakeside is used as a training venue by one of the visiting teams.

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