Geelong faces uphill battle to make V-League

Geelong Advertiser, Saturday 2 December 2006, p. 101.

The Geelong (soccer) football community learned what the future of the game holds when the Football Federation of Victoria announced the preliminary criteria for its new V-League to be launched in 2008 earlier this week.  This will be the state’s new elite league and while existing clubs will be able to apply, none is guaranteed a spot in the competition.

Applicants will be asked to provide a detailed business plan and this will demand greater professionalism and strict adherence to the new criteria.

The V-League  aspires to be the second strongest competition in Australia after the national A-League. The new league will have up to 12 teams. Better conditions to watch matches are demanded with enhanced ground amenities, including a minimum of 500 under-cover seats and improved corporate and media facilities There will be salary cap of $200,000. Clubs will be required to employ a full time General Manager or Chief Executive Officer. They will also have to have an increased marketing budget to promote the V-League. The V-League will aim at an emphasis on family and enjoyment, though how this is to be achieved is not specified.

The FFV will release the full criteria to interested parties on 8 December and expressions of interest are required by 29 June 2007 with the final application due on 3 August 2007.

FFV CEO Tony Pignata said, ‘The V-League will comprise viable, professionally administered clubs working closely with their local communities, the football family and FFV to build the image of our game.’ This means that no single ethnically-based club need apply. Some giants of the game, like South Melbourne and Melbourne Knights, who until 2004 were playing in the National Soccer League, could find themselves unable to meet the criteria for entry to the FFV V-League unless they can broaden their appeal.

Some aspects of the new plans will require further consideration. A $200,000 salary cap seems far too low. With a squad of 20 players playing 22 home and away games this represents an average weekly income of $450.00 per week or something close to the minimum wage. Given that players will have to train three or four times a week at least and be available over week-ends stretching from Friday to Monday nights, it is hard to see the best talent being attracted.

None of the Geelong clubs is in a position to meet these criteria so it is almost essential that a wider consortium be formed if Geelong is to enter a team in the V-League and time is pressing. In a future column the venue for a combined Geelong team will be considered. Should it be located in the north-west or the south-east of the city?

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