Stop community soccer clubs being taken over by private academies

Stop community soccer clubs being taken over by private academies

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John Sugunananthan started this petition to LOCAL GOVERNMENT and

What is the issue?

Private “academy” businesses are moving into not-for-profit community soccer clubs, taking over governing Committees and staff for their commercial interests.

Why is this an issue? 

Private operators’ main interest and priority is their revenue stream. Club resources such as grounds and competition opportunities are being appropriated to sustain this interest. Often this is at the expense of other parents or kids in the club that do not want or cannot afford to pay academy prices, or are not selected to their “elite” academy program.

This removes opportunities for “community” members from participating and maximising their experience.

People power - your voice counts

We need parents, clubs, and the community to speak up. Have your voice heard. Sports are for ALL, not just for the rich and for kids in “elite” programs.

Who can bring about the change?

Local Councils who own the land that these private academies use.
Sporting organisations and bodies who govern competition rules including who can participate.
Club committees and members, who can stop the take over of their community club before it is too late.

Real-world example

This issue is impacting Glen Eira Junior Soccer Club (also known as Glen Eira FC) in Melbourne Australia due to its "Partnership" with a private, elite boys academy - Football Technique School (FTS). 

Here, the Committee was taken over by FTS parents at the 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) using electronic proxy votes secured by an FTS employee and FTS parent (who is a full-time employee of the Club as General Manager). Messages were sent to members such as: “Ensure everything is calm” (FTS employee), “Some unexpected committee nominations have been lodged and I fear for the club being dragged off course. I want the club to maintain its current set of values and I seek your support to help me protect against unwelcome influences” (General Manager). 

FTS teams only make up 20% of the Club members; yet they control the majority of the Committee. 

After the 2020 AGM, FTS parents are now in the role of Club President, Vice President, Secretary, and Match & Facilities Manager.

The proxy votes were used to block and remove non-FTS parents from the committee. This seems to be a deliberate violation of the democratic voting process preventing a female member who had the required votes from joining the committee. This parent was going to represent the girls of the club. Girl members do not have active representation on the committee although they make up 24% of the members.

Once they had the numbers the committee appointed a FTS employee as the club “Community” Technical Director. They then demoted and later sacked the girls technical director for speaking up loudly for the girls’ cause and being vocal against the take over. The new committee stopped the community children (non-FTS players) from participating in tournaments playing under Glen Eira FC (such as the FV Futsal State championship), while the FTS “elite” boys played under the FTS Futsal club.

What is next?

We need leadership and courage from local government (Councils) and sporting bodies to step in and STOP this destruction of community soccer clubs.

We need Councils (like Glen Eira Council in the example above), the sports governing bodies (like Football Victoria in the case above) to put an end to this. Stop private academies getting access to grounds at the expense of community members, stop private academies masquerading as community clubs participating in community competitions.

We also ask club members and committees to keep an eye out for such risk and prevent it happening before there is a take over of the committee at your club and all power is lost. 

Is there a place for private operators?

Yes, definitely but they must be transparent as a private operator, and cannot take advantage of community clubs for their benefit. 

John Sugunananthan

Football Australia Congress - Women's Football Council member.

Past Director of Girls & Women’s Football, Glen Eira FC

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At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!