Days after launching a powerful message to the North Ballarat Football Club board, AFL Victoria chief executive Steven Reaper admits he feels more comfortable about the Roosters being part of the VFL in 2017.
Given the current board uncertainty and financial issues at the club, Reaper on Thursday made it clear that withdrawal from the upcoming season would see the club unlikely to be considered for a return to the competition in the future.
His comments came before Friday’s news that the City of Ballarat had started the process of compulsory acquisition for the freehold title at the Eureka Stadium sports club, which includes the gaming and dining aspects of the venue.
Reaper said the likelihood of the Roosters staying in the VFL had been boosted.
“We always remained hopeful that would be the case and it has been our expectation. I think the events of Friday that council have made that compulsory acquisition of the facility probably strengthens that position,” Reaper said.
City of Ballarat chief executive officer Justine Linley had stated the new board – to be revealed on February 21 – will have to meet a number of requirements in order to secure the lease to the facility. One of these will be to field a VFL team.
“From our perspective, I think that was a positive move,” Reaper told The Courier.
Reaper said there is potential for a new Ballarat-based entity to take up a spot in the VFL, if the Roosters were withdrawn.
“If, for some reason, there was a decision by North Ballarat to pull out and there was a vacancy, we would certainly look at all avenues for this season,” he said.
“But I think the preference – both ours and no doubt council – is that there’s a VFL presence in Ballarat. And the facility, from that point of view, can be utilised by the new board. Make that decision just to get on with the job and their commitment to play in 2017.”
In a Facebook statement to members of the club, North Ballarat chief executive Bill Mundy addressed the potential for another entity to take the opportunity to lease the facilities after the sale process.
“Can I reassure you that it is my intention to work collaboratively with the support of the Board and the Board Elect to ensure that as a club we achieve the necessary requirements of the City and are able to continue to run our business and build on the over 120 years history of the North Ballarat Football Club with a bright new chapter,” the post read.
Mundy said the City of Ballarat had indicated that it has no intention to run the business of the sports or football club.
“Clearly the intent behind the decision by the City Council is to ensure that the community investments made in the stadium and over time in the buildings and precinct the clubs operate from is protected, and allow for access to be gained to those facilities as a part of the planned AFL game which is scheduled to be played later in 2017,” the post read.
Under the guidance of senior coach Marc Greig, the Roosters continue to work towards the round one clash against Richmond on April 16.