In the latest of a series of regular columns, Richmond President Peggy O’Neal talks to members and supporters on the eve of the 2017 home-and-away season.
Dear Members and Supporters,
We are just days away from the start of the 2017 season. There is a great sense of excitement and energy around the Club and I’m sure you are looking forward to Round 1 as much as we are. The JLT pre-season competition served to whet our appetites!
This is the first of my columns for 2017, answering some of the questions that I have received so far this year. As previously mentioned, this will be a regular column for our website so please send your questions to the email address at the bottom of the column.
What are we doing to ensure Dustin Martin doesn’t leave?
We obviously want Dustin to remain a Richmond player and remain confident that that will be the case long-term. The communication lines between the Club and Dustin’s management remain open but there is no time line on when something will be agreed.
Of course, we would prefer to have Dustin's contract settled sooner rather than later but, equally, we need to respect Dustin and his management’s right to work through what is an important decision - and that is not uncommon in the modern football environment.
Importantly, Dustin has indicated that is very happy at the Club and working hard to get the best out of himself this season.
We worked hard as a Club to develop the facilities we now have. What are we doing to ensure we don’t fall behind again?
The Board and management have identified this as a priority. Upgrading and developing new facilities is a long-term project and we have started the planning process and begun consultation with the necessary parties.
We all know that it is important to ensure that we continue to provide facilities for our football team (and broader business) which are of the highest quality to help us attract talent on and off the field. We want facilities of the calibre that give us the best chance of winning premierships.
Beyond that, we have a VFL team, potentially a women’s team at some time in the future, as well as our Next Generation Academy and significant community program activity that need to be considered in any long-term planning exercise.
We will share out plans with members and supporters when we are in a position to do so.
Congratulations on the recent Board appointments – particularly Henriette’s skills around developing culture and high performing teams – I think it’s exactly what we need. Did we cast the net as wide as we could have? How many people did we actually interview?
We are fortunate that there was a great deal of interest in the two casual vacancies. We received several excellent resumes in reply to our public announcement of the process and had 29 applications in all. As I have said previously, it is great to see so many people willing to serve the Club.
The Nominations Committee (chaired by John O'Rourke) short-listed seven people to interview and, as there were so many high quality candidates, determining the short list was not easy.
Ultimately, the Nominations Committee made a recommendation on who best met the identified skill requirements needed by the Board and Henriette Rothschild and Joe Powell were the successful candidates. Summaries of their qualifications are on our Board web page http://www.richmondfc.com.au/club/about/the-board
Why don’t members have a say in casual appointments? None of the Board has been elected by members.
I have said this a number of times recently but for the sake of clarity, under the Club’s Constitution when casual vacancies arise – as it did when Tony Free and Rex Chadwick resigned before their terms were completed – the Board has the responsibility of filling those vacancies. Under the Constitution, any person appointed to fill the casual vacancy serves out the remainder of the term of the director who has resigned.
It is incorrect to say that no one on the Board has been elected by members. Kerry Ryan and Emmett Dunne were both elected by members in November 2016. Maurice O'Shannessey and Rex Chadwick were elected in November 2015. Personally, I have stood for election twice in the past.
All directors appointed to fill a casual vacancy will eventually face election when their casual terms are completed.
Why don’t we have more people on the Board with football experience?
A board needs a variety of skills. Running a footy club is a surprisingly complex business!
As you know, Emmett Dunne and Brendon Gale are now on the Board and while both have enormous experience as players they also have served in other significant roles across the AFL. I believe that we have excellent football experience around the Board table.
And, while he obviously does not sit on the Board, Neil Balme, General Manager – Football, meets with the board monthly and, as you know, brings enormous experience to the Club.
What are your expectations for the year ahead?
Our coach has said he expects to play finals and I know that our players feel the same way. The rest of the Club is no different. Playing finals has always been, and should always be, our ambition. We all understand the enormous amount of work required to deliver that result but we are up for it.
I see we have announced a partnership with the Bendigo Thunder women’s team. What else are we doing to ensure we get a team in the AFLW as soon as possible?
We applied for a women's team when the original AFLW licenses were issued by the AFL and were very disappointed that we did not receive one of the four AFLW licenses allocated to Victoria. We thought that we put forward a compelling application to have a women's team at Punt Road.
We have been committed to developing women and girls football for some time now and continue our work in this regard. This means that the Bendigo Thunder alignment is particularly exciting and a great chance for us to support the elite-talent pathways and grow female participation. Beyond this, our Next Generation Academy activities will work with both boys and girls as we aim to increase the number of female players at a junior level. We expect to be in a position to announce some other exciting initiatives in the near future.
As you may know, we were granted a 'provisional' AFLW licence and we think that our ongoing initiatives will have us well placed to gain a licence when the competition is expanded.
Why does Chris Yarran’s name still appear on our Club mobile app player profiles?
The AFL still categorises Chris as a listed player despite the fact he has been released by the Club from his contract. The player profile section across our digital platforms is provided by the AFL and as a result he is retained on that list. Other Clubs have had similar issues. It seems simple to change but the AFL tells us it isn’t!
Channel 7 reported we are about to re-sign Jeep as a major partner. Is that correct?
Jeep has been a wonderful partner of Richmond for a long period of time and our commercial team is always in close contact with our sponsors. We would certainly like to extend what has been a very positive relationship and will share any news with members and supporters as soon as we are in a position to do so.
We have made some important commercial announcements already this year with Bang and Olufsen joining the Club as our Audio-Vision Partner and the Plenary Group becoming our Next Generation Academy Partner.
Beyond this we have had Progressclaim.com elevate their partnership to become joint major partners of the VFL team.
We expect to have more good news to share in the near future.
What is the Club doing to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Premiership side?
There are a number of activities planned to celebrate the 1967 Premiership. The Tommy Hafey Club is holding a function on Friday 31 March. People wishing to attend can call Sam on 0413 964 689.
We will also pay tribute to the 1967 Premiership team at our annual Life Members lunch in May and we will feature members of the 1967 premiership team as our “Homecoming Hero” during home games this season.
There will be information on the Club website about all celebratory events as well as in-depth articles about the 1967 premiership side. The Talking Tigers podcast is highlighting aspects of the 1967 premiership in each broadcast (including the great music of 1967).
How much of Brett Deledio’s contract is the Club paying?
It would be inappropriate to comment on the detail of player contracts or any such payment.
I hope these answers helped clarify some things for members and supporters. As always, if you have any questions you would like to ask please do so at email@example.com
Let’s get ready for a great season. See you at the MCG on 23 March!