Their comments come in the wake of Anthony Cianflone’s Adjournment matter in State Parliament, where he echoed the catalogue of concerns members of Victoria’s football community have regarding the sport’s governing body.
Joe Sala, the chairman of Brunswick Juventus, said the list of grievances was “dismaying”.
“To hear Anthony rattle off some of those things is dismaying for the code and should raise alarm bells, and should justifiably put a little spotlight on it,” he said.
Cianflone also mentioned the high turnover of CEOs at FV, with the federation having seven in as many years.
“It’s not ideal in any business,” said Sala.
“It seems like a splutter start, stop, start [situation]. If I was responsible for that business, I wouldn’t be excited...
“My selection process would come under scrutiny, as would the characteristics and the skillset of the people that have taken those roles.
“We do know that a lot of people have left, a lot of people with talent and knowledge about football have left Football Victoria. That part we know.
“The reasons why? That’s not for us to decide.”
Sala believes that FV needs more people in its ranks who have experience running a football club.
“I feel we can do better, that’s why I say the federation needs people that have exposure at the coalface,” he explained.
“Until they get that, we may continue with this merry-go-round of CEOs.”
Another of Cianflone’s criticisms of FV was their treatment of clubs they deemed not to be ‘financially compliant’. At the time of writing this article, both Brunswick Juventus and Hume United are listed as owing the federation money.
Sala said the amount his club owes will be paid with little fuss, however the combined total of $2 million that FV announced they’re owed is worrying.
“It’s quite a big sum, so everybody’s concerned,” said Sala.
Meanwhile, Mutlu, a committee member of Hume United who preferred his surname not to be published, says his club is under extreme financial pressure.
According to Mutlu, Hume United has received numerous correspondences from FV demanding money, lest the club be excluded from competing next season.
He says this made club volunteers feel stressed and helpless, causing some of them to leave their roles.
“People started feeling guilty because they can’t contribute to the club in a financial way, to help the club get out of trouble,” shared Mutlu, adding that he himself took out a personal loan a few years ago so that the club could stay afloat.
“The more emails and the more calls started putting more pressure [on volunteers].
“The last thing you want at a volunteering job is that you’re stressed.”
Mutlu explained that Hume United’s financial issues started in 2020, when the club was promotion bound before the season was abandoned after 14 rounds due to the pandemic.
Despite the season not being completed or counted, clubs were still expected to pay FV.
Mutlu described the event as “demoralising” for the club, its sponsors and the community.
“A lot of sponsors, after 14 rounds, looked at it as a waste of time,” he said, adding that many sponsors pay in installments that were immediately stopped.
“The following season, it was really hard for us to get that money turning around.
“One business that used to give us $20,000 to $30,000 a year … said they could only give us $2000 [the next season].
“That is a significant drop because we basically run on sponsorship money.”
Mutlu says that this season, Hume United entered into a payment plan with the federation for around $4000 per month, but in addition to the everyday costs of running the club, the plan turned out to be unsustainable.
“That’s not a small amount for a non-profit organisation,” said Mutlu, before adding that FV’s fees have continued to rise every year despite many clubs struggling to survive.
Mutlu says that the club was then told by FV that it must pay $48,000 out of its total debt of around $68,000 by the end of November if it wants to compete next year.
However, he says since the public spotlight on FV there has been a “change of tone”, with the federation appearing to be open to a more tailored payment plan proposed by the club.
According to Mutlu, it has also made members of the local community more aware of the club’s situation.
“The last few days we’ve had a lot of local businesses, a lot of community people, a lot of families … contacting us saying ‘what’s going on?’,” he revealed.
“I even received a call from a seven-year-old junior saying, ‘I can give ten dollars to help the club out.’”
For Mutlu, Hume United plays an important role in the community that must not be lost.
“We are in an area where we battle not just to run a club, we battle to keep kids and the youngsters off certain things,” he explained.
“The [low] care factor of any relevant official or government bodies … it’s deeply hit us.
“They care about the dollar only, and that’s where it hurts.”