AGM Wrap

North Melbourne Football Club has a fascinating 12 months ahead of them off the field. At the NMFC Annual General Meeting (AGM) last night, we got a taste for what the club has in store. Here’s a summary:

James Brayshaw opened proceedings, acknowledging the great work of the team in posting a profit, despite a GFC, a poor stadium deal and the team finishing 13th. Looking forward, he said that while North is the envy of the competition when it comes to culture, brand, courage and people, our attendances aren’t good enough. It affects our revenue (total of $77,000 net in match receipts for 2009) as well as our draw. An increase in attendance of 10,000 per match would net an additional $1-1.5m revenue every year. Bigger crowds would also result in a better draw (more Friday nights) and more free-to-air coverage. We need to acknowledge there’s a problem and fix it. That said, our best people are working on this as we speak.

Eugene Arocca then presented the 2009 accounts. The key challenges he outlined for 2010 were:

  • Aiming for $1m profit plus debt reduction (see below):
    • Looking to develop non-football related revenue, but very reluctant to go down the gaming path
  • Continued increase in membership and sponsorship revenue
  • $1.3m increase in AFL and stadium (match reciepts) revenue
  • Grow match day attendance:
    • Looking at investing a staff position in “fan development”
    • Learning and Life Centre may contribute to growing the supporter-base
    • Cited footage of GF week training session at Arden St in 1998 where 5-7,000 people attended – need to get those fans back
  • Reduce debt:
    • Currently around $4.35m
    • In relation to other clubs/businesses, it is a small debt considering the $15m asset we just bought
    • Wanted to create something tangible and build a vision for the club (primarily through the re-development) before calling on people to financially contribute to the club
    • Hopes to make a big dent in the debt this year – aiming to at least halve it
    • Doesn’t want to use the term “debt demolition” and doesn’t want to simply ask people to put their hands in their pockets for the club – hopes to have a better plan than that

Overall, Arocca doesn’t underestimate the challenges, but reckons we’re on the “cusp of something great”.

JB presented a “Special Service Award” to June Stevenson for 15 years voluntary service in membership and merchandise (been a member since 1974). It was a lovely acceptance speech by the senior lady.

JB presented a Life Membership Award to Bill Lowerson, recruiting officer (1982-92) and room stewart (basically the match day door bitch; 1996-2009). Again, well deserved and a humble acceptance speech.

Mark Brayshaw presented Life Membership Awards to Roger Moore (1989-2009) and Gordon McDonald (1989-2009) for their work as part-time physios. Both told some fascinating stories about players playing through injury during matches.

I loved how the club made a big effort to acknowledge these people, as well as all the people involved in the club. JB said a number of times how North was special because of its people, and it only attracts the finest. It was a nice moment. I’d like to pass on my personal thanks to those award recipients, and all the people involved in the club for acknowledging them.

Brad Scott was invited to the podium to discuss his expectations of the team in 2010.

It was a brilliant off the cuff speech which implored all loyal North supporters to start talking about the team “in glowing terms”. For too long people have talked down the club, and Scott wants it to stop. He also talked about redefining what it means to be a North Melbourne person, as well as the Shinboner Spirit.

Proceedings soon wrapped up after a few brief questions.

All in all, it was another fascinating look inside the workings of what truly is a very special football club.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “AGM Wrap

  1. miss jo

    Hmm. “…very reluctant to go down the gaming path…” – I thought you’d posted previously that pokies were totally off limits for the club under current leadership?

    • I can’t recall the exact turn of phrase that Arocca used, but it did seem like the language had softened a little, which I have slight misgivings about.

      Still, it’s hard to see the club investing in pokies any time soon.

  2. TVOR

    You only have ‘slight’ misgivings about the softening in language? Personally, I don’t see the big deal – if NMFC invest in poker machines, it will simply redirect some of the pokie money away from one business to NMFC. Given the proliferation in pokies, a few more will not a gambling addict make.

    NMFC has a responsibility to remain a going concern for its supporters and players. Maintaining a moral highground is a luxury only the rich can afford. Since the gutsy (but I believe misguided) decision to turn their back on the GC deal, Brayshaw and Arocca should pursue every reasonable $$ making scheme available.

    Aspirational comments about ‘if we get another 10,000 fans to every game’ achieve nothing. Either more bums on seats this year through current initiatives, or Tatts me outta here.

    • Re: pokies
      (1) Given that the Govt aren’t releasing any new pokies licenses, presumably NMFC would have to acquire them at market rates. Therefore, NMFC are unlikely to receive a particularly high rate of return, and are probably better off using what limited capital they have retiring interest-bearing debt. Even in an ideal world without such debt, there are likely to be other income-generating assets with similar risk levels offering similar rates of return, so I don’t really see what is so attractive about pokies on a purely financial basis.
      (2) In developing a community-based facility and focus, the new executive at NMFC have successfully gained significant Govt and philanthropic funds (roughly $13.5m in capital plus the operations of the Learning & Life Centre funded for the first 3 years). Acquiring pokies would threaten further funding from these areas and goes against the new community vision for NMFC. It is difficult to make the claim that you’re investing in the local community, while taking pokies revenue off it’s most vulnerable at the same time.

      Brayshaw and Arocca should pursue every reasonable $$ making scheme available.

      I agree. I believe that they are. Due to the reasons above, I believe that they have ruled out pokies as counter-productive. Given that the club has returned consecutive profits despite numerous factors working against them (GFC, poor stadium deal, team finishing 13th) I find it difficult to view NMFC as anything other than a viable, if not thriving, entity.

      Aspirational comments about ‘if we get another 10,000 fans to every game’ achieve nothing.

      I agree with your premise. But it’s worth bearing in mind that JB’s now got a strong track record. I didn’t believe JB when he said NMFC could reach 30,000+ members but he proved me wrong. I didn’t see the Arden St development arriving any time soon, yet they delivered in spades. So it’s hard to be critical when all he’s doing is acknowledging that match day attendance is the biggest issue at the club right now, that they are putting in place strategies to address it and have set an ambitious target to reach. Whether it will be reached is hard to say – it may take some time – but I have a lot of faith in the current team to deliver.

  3. Dave R

    “Hopes to make a big dent in the debt this year – aiming to at least halve it”

    What is the current debt amount? Has it been decreased from 4.35 million? Did North get close to “halving it” or is it a future plan? Is a worry if it continues to hover around this amount.

    “Doesn’t want to use the term “debt demolition” and doesn’t want to simply ask people to put their hands in their pockets for the club – hopes to have a better plan than that”

    I believe North will be going down the debt demolition path in 2011, why would A. Rocca oringally be against this idea? Seems like a poor choice of works considering his commitment to a debt reduction program in 2011 (and about time).

    • NMFC posted a small profit for 2010, thereby reducing the debt a very small amount. It is still over $4m. So no, NMFC did not get close to halving it, but for whatever reason, didn’t end up launching the campaign in 2010. Details are scant from where I am at the moment.

      I don’t believe holding debt is a big issue in its own right if you can afford to service it. NMFC’s problem is that it is heavily reliant on the AFL for revenue, and is at their whim to an extent. If it wasn’t in debt, this would be less of an issue. So it does need to be addressed, from a PR point of view as much as anything.

      Finally, Arocca is not adverse to getting rid of debt, he just doesn’t want to go about it the same way as Melbourne did. I believe he feels that it comes across as desperate to do so. How exactly the administration is planning on retiring the debt is yet to be seen, but we will likely find out in July this year – once the 2011 membership campaign is done and dusted.

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