BENDIGO City FC’s committee has resigned from the fledgling National Premier League Victoria club.
President Ben Pengelly and committee members Travis St Clair, Peter Anderson, Arj Perera and Melanie Shanahan stepped down over the weekend.
A group of parents and members strongly disagreed with the committee’s decision to re-structure the club’s finances, including making technical director Fab Soncin’s full-time role redundant.
Soncin oversaw the coaching and development of the club’s six junior teams, as well as having a prominent role with the senior and under-20 squads.
“About eight weeks ago we did a Q and A with parents of junior players and informed them that we were short of money,’’ Pengelly said on Monday.
“Five weeks ago we did another analysis of our club and we realised our figures were not sustainable.
“From a financial point of view the club was driving a Rolls Royce when we couldn’t afford to.
“The advice we got from accountants and lawyers was that we needed to make a re-structure.
“We had a technical director (Fab Soncin) who, although he was a great asset, was a massive liability on the books.
“We re-structured that role to make it part-time, which is compliant with Football Federation Victoria.
“We announced that decision last weekend and we copped a lot of abuse and anger last week.
“Understandably, parents were worried about the soccer education of their children, while we were thinking about the financial sustainability of Bendigo City FC.
“There was a lot of backlash to the decision, so we had a parents and members meeting on Friday night and, unfortunately, we (the committee) were railroaded...it was a lynch mob.
“We went through all the figures with the parents and members and showed them our financial plan to make sure the club is viable going forward.
“We continued to cop abuse, our integrity was questioned… it wasn’t a nice place to be.
“If you take the blinkers off and look at the club, we had a financial forecast for this year and next year that would be sustainable. Our overheads in that full-time technical director role had been in the vicinity of 220 per cent above industry average.
“A mistake was made in the first place when that package was put together, but it doesn’t mean you can’t correct it. Through good governance we changed it. Enough was enough… you can’t eat chocolate everyday if you can’t afford it.
“The club can prosper going forward if the finances are managed properly. That’s what we were trying to do.”
In the wake of the committee’s resignation, a working group is being formed to take over the day-to-day running of the club.
A meeting of Bendigo City FC senior players, junior parents and members is being planned for this week.
“I don’t know what this working group is planning,’’ Pengelly said.
“Realistically, can they afford to reinstate the technical director as a full-time role? No, I don’t think so.
“We have a group of people worried about the individual coaching of their sons. I’d love the best of the best as well, but the reality is they are not getting a poor service. All of the junior coaches at the club are at a level that is higher than what Football Federation Victoria requires. The juniors are getting silver service.
“We had to make decisions and make the place sustainable. We couldn’t sit on our hands and then wait until September and find that the club was broke.”