The future of the North Ballarat Football Club is in turmoil after major sponsor H.Troon withdrew its sponsorship on Thursday.
The construction company which was announced as naming rights sponsor in December removed its support in the wake of the withdrawal of former chairman Peter Wilson’s ticket for the board.
H.Troon owner Steven Troon said he had no confidence in the current board and did “not believe they (had) the experience or vision to successfully run a VFL club”.
“Given the events of the past 48 hours H.Troon regrettably will not be able to be the naming rights of the Roosters,” Mr Troon said.
“It's a very sad state of affairs that the current board can’t see they don’t have the skills to run a successful VFL club.”
A decision to enforce a new date for members to nominate for board positions was made at an extraordinary board meeting on Monday night, resulting in the resignation of interim chairman Shaune Maloney and Stephen Jurica.
The decision which altered the cut-off date for members to nominate from January 24 to October 30, 2016 ruled out six of Mr Wilson’s 13-member ticket. The five eligible members have since ruled out their nominations.
Board spokesperson Richard Start said he was uncertain whether the club would be able to continue to compete in the Victorian Football League.
“As it stands, the commitment the board made last year to field a team in the VFL in 2017 remains,” Mr Start said.
“However the new board will need to scrutinise the finances and examine further funding options to determine whether that is still viable.”
While there had been much speculation as to whether the Roosters would compete in season 2017 after a lean year on the field and ongoing financial troubles, the board confirmed it would again field a side at a special meeting in December.
AFL Victoria chief executive officer Steven Reaper said the governing body expected the Roosters would participate in the season, and urged the rival factions “to come together for the good of the club”.
“(The board) gave a commitment they would field a team and if that changes it would be extremely disappointing to Ballarat and the competition because it’s important respect is shown to the rest of the sides.”
Business community slams board decision
Ballarat’s business leaders have slammed a ruling by the North Ballarat Roosters’ board on Monday night which prevented some of the city’s most well known identities from nominating for director’s positions.
The technical ruling altered the date which members needed to have signed up by in order to run, resulting in the withdrawal of former chairman Peter Wilson’s ticket and the removal of H.Troon as the club’s major sponsor.
Ballarat businessman Stewart Gull who was a previous sponsor of the club had pledged financial assistance should Mr Wilson have taken over as chairman.
Like H.Troon, Mr Gull and his businesses Gull Real Estate and Country Club Homes have pulled their support in the wake of Monday’s board meeting.
Mr Gull was scathing of the current board, saying “everything bad that's happening with the North Ballarat Football Club culminated with the decision to not allow the new members to vote”.
The club had recently undergone a recruitment drive for new members and indicated any members signed up by January 24 would be able to participate in elections.
“The business community, the football community, the council and possibly the Western Bulldogs have been aware there has been a toxic environment at the North Ballarat Football Club for some time,” Mr Gull said. “Some of these people (on the board) seem to think that they actually own the club.”
Committee for Ballarat chair Janet Dore also expressed her frustration at the board’s decision, citing the potential ramifications unrest may have on the long term viability of the club.
“Committee's concern is that we are in danger of losing a prime opportunity for football to develop to the highest level in this region and that the footy players of the future, both men and women, will be denied their chance to flourish,” Ms Dore said.
Prospective board member and former City of Ballarat mayor Judy Verlin said she signed up as part of the club’s recruitment drive and was surprised by the ruling.
“This is not about just about the VFL, this is about preserving the opportunity to be able to expose our youth to the highest level of competition,” Ms Verlin said.
H.Troon owner Steven Troon said he would immediately renew his support for the club if Mr Wilson and his associates were allowed to take control of the board.
“H.Troon believes strongly Ballarat must have a team in the VFL and H.Troon will continue to provide financial support to that idea but only if the board has the required expertise.”
Board spokesperson Richard Start said he hoped the relationship with H.Troon could be mended.
“It would be our hope that after the election, there will be an opportunity for the new board, whatever its make-up, to sit down with Mr Troon and discuss their ongoing support,” Mr Start said.
Business as usual says CEO
North Ballarat Sports Club chief executive Bill Mundy says there is no reason for Roosters players to feel concerned about being paid in season 2017 following the withdrawal of naming rights sponsor H.Troon.
Mundy, who only started in the role late last month, attended a pre-booked meeting with members of the Ballarat-based construction company on Thursday where he learned it would not be fulfilling its sponsorship agreement for the upcoming Victorian Football League season.
This follows news that Peter Wilson has withdrawn his nomination to take on the position of chairman after six members of his ticket were deemed ineligible to stand for the North Ballarat Football Club board.
H.Troon was revealed as the naming rights sponsor for the Roosters in December last year.
This was a big announcement for the club at the time given its ongoing financial battles, which saw delays in player payments last season.
Mundy said it is “business as usual” for the current playing group.
“There is no reason for players – irrespective of which club they are with (Roosters or North Ballarat City) – to feel any uncertainty around their opportunity to be remunerated,” Mundy said.
Mundy said he understands H.Troon’s decision to pull out of its sponsorship position.
“We completely understand why that has taken place and we’ve agreed that should there be an opportunity in the future to open up conversations again that we would together welcome that opportunity to have a discussion,” Mundy told The Courier.
Mundy said it came as no surprise to him that H.Troon had reevaluated their commitment to the club given the recent events.
He said the hunt is now on for a new naming rights sponsor.
“We will look forward to trying to identify a potential naming rights sponsor and have discussions with whoever that might be,” he said.
The Roosters’ pre-season preparations are well underway under senior coach Marc Greig, with the team getting set for the round one clash with Richmond on April 16.