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From the President: Mid-May update

Peggy O’Neal, richmondfc.com.au  May 19, 2017 6:21 AM

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Richmond President Peggy O'Neal with Bendigo Thunder coach Cherie O'Neill in March.

In the latest of a series of regular columns, Richmond President Peggy O’Neal talks to members and supporters about some of the recent – and future – developments around the Club.

Dear Members and Supporters

One third of the season has already flown by and despite the disappointment of last week’s loss to Fremantle, it has been a largely positive start to the year. Before I get to your questions that have been sent through, I want to make some comments around the AFLW and its impending expansion.

First and foremost, Richmond Football Club is committed to being part of the expanded AFLW competition, indeed, we expect to be when a final decision is made on which clubs will be included from 2019. We put a very sound submission to the AFL to be included in the inaugural competition and were extremely disappointed to miss out. The AFL has stated that provisional licence holders, such as ourselves, will be at the front of the queue when expansion occurs and we will again be making a very strong case for inclusion.

The cornerstones of our initial submission still hold true. Richmond has built a culture that will properly support and nurture elite-female talent. From day one we have maintained that cultural fit was critical to authentic integration and long-term success, and no other sporting organisation can match the leadership role we have taken when it comes to gender equity. Richmond led the establishment of the Elite Sport Male Champions of Change and drove the development of a three-year research project into gender equity, the results of which the Club recently released.

We are better placed to support and nurture female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation and talent development than any other Victorian club. We have long held a leadership role in this regard and are trusted by the Indigenous community. More than 700 businesses have Reconciliation Action Plans but only 17 are in Elevate status as a result of demonstrated leadership. Richmond is one of those 17 businesses and the only sporting club recognised in such a way. The ATSI community must be a key part of the growth of the AFLW competition. We have already announced programming to develop ATSI participation and we believe that we are better placed than anyone to deliver on it.

We have made a further commitment to supporting the development of female participation in our Next Generation Academy zone and this has included our recently announced alignment with Bendigo Thunder, a developing powerhouse of women’s football. Our ambition is to work with Bendigo Thunder to strengthen that club and ensure that they are successful and a key part of our talent pathway. These activities – and others - will all feed into a list-build strategy that will have us well placed for 2019.

There is more exciting progress that will be shared in the coming weeks but I wanted to assure our members and supporters that having an AFLW team in yellow and black is our ambition, and our expectation, and we will be doing everything in our power to ensure that it becomes a reality.

Questions:

Where are things at with Dustin Martin and why hasn’t he signed? Is he being shopped around?

We have been quite clear that we are comfortable with Dustin and his management taking the time they need to make a decision on his future. The dealings throughout this process have been professional on both sides and the communications between the Club and his manager Ralph Carr have been constructive.

Free agency rules have changed the football landscape enormously. As a result, there is always significant speculation around player movement, particularly high-profile players. It is something that we have to get used to as uncomfortable as that can be.

We have repeatedly said that we want Dustin to be a part of our Club long-term and that is the outcome we are working towards. We remain confident that will be the case but, equally, we haven’t put any deadline on reaching an agreement.

A number of Clubs have unveiled plans for future facility upgrades. What is happening with our Punt Road Oval facility?

The future development of the Punt Road Oval facility is a key priority for the Board. The Club sees the facility as being a critical component of our continued progress. We believe that it should be part of any redevelopment of the surrounding sporting precinct. Those views were put forward when the Club was invited to present to the State Government’s Victorian Major Stadia Strategy working group late last year. A subsequent submission has also been made to that group. Further to this, the Club has recently appointed Otium Planning Group to oversee the development of a Punt Road facility masterplan and, once those plans start to take shape, we will share that vision with members and supporters.

What is the Club’s position on Ben Griffiths and his on-going concussion issues?

I’m sure all members and supporters would agree that the most important thing is Ben’s health and playing football is very much secondary at the moment. The Club is doing everything we can to work with Ben, and the medical staff, to understand the nature of his concussions. Until such time as we have some clarity around his medical condition we are unable to shed any light on his short-to-mid-term future. Ben is a fine young man and we will continue to give him every support and take an understandably cautious approach.

It has been reported by Mick Warner that a number of Melbourne clubs are interested in replacing Gold Coast as the "host" of Port Adelaide’s China game in 2018.

Is our Board prepared to confirm that Richmond will not be looking to play a game overseas during the home and away season?

The Club has no plans to play a home and away game overseas. We are working to develop our relationship with the Indian community both locally, and in India, but those planned activities do not include playing games overseas.

Why was PUMA gear so difficult to get early in the season and why can’t we get Richmond polo tops?

Members and supporters may recall that our previous apparel supplier went into receivership late last year which meant that the Club – and many others – had to find an alternative. Fortunately the Club had already reached an agreement with new apparel provider PUMA to partner the Club from November 2017. Thankfully, we were able to bring forward our PUMA partnership but with on-field apparel being the priority as part of the quick turnaround, we were left with some gaps in the supporter merchandise range and that is now being addressed in preparation for next season.

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 president@richmondfc.com.au

Go Tigers