No club in the last decade of the A-League has gone through as dramatic a transformation as Melbourne City. While the Team of the Decade discussion on the podcast has given rise to retrospection and assessment of the past, the more difficult path may be predicting the future of our club. In the last ten years, we’ve said goodbye to wheelie bins and hello to CFA Melbourne. On the field, we’ve seen the beginnings of an upturn of performances and quality, but what kind of off-field changes might we expect to see before 2030? Here are some of our predictions:
I, for one, welcome our new CFFA overlord
Since CFG bought the A-League licence from Melbourne Heart, we’ve seen a significant increase in their activities relating to the governance of football in Australia. From playing a significant, if not starring, role in the AFPCA and movement towards an independent A-League, to pushing for changes to things like the salary cap and player loans/transfers. Now with the new FFA CEO being announced as James Johnson, ex-CFG Senior Vice President of external affairs, we have another link from our owners to the leadership of football in this country.
Important decisions regarding the running of football in this country, at least at league level, are being heralded by those in charge of our club, and we can only expect to benefit from it in the long term. Expected changes such as abolishing the salary cap and transfer fees between A-League clubs will allow us to use our financial stability to further our club’s performance and, hopefully, lead to success.
CFA Melbourne v2.0
In the embers of Melbourne Heart’s second season, on May 24, 2012, a fan forum was held at La Trobe University with then-CEO Scott Munn and Football Operations Manager John Didulica in attendance. Many things were discussed in regards to the on-field plans for the club, but one of the more exciting developments were glimpses into blueprints for updated facilities for Melbourne Heart staff and players: one centralised hub next to the existing training and playing pitches for all club personnel, elite training facilities and best of all, no more wheelie bins. Sounds familiar, as it seems most of the initial designs have been taken in with the design of CFA Melbourne.
One of the more exciting parts of the blueprint, however, was that it was to be built over two stages, and the second stage was a dedicated pitch next to the club training facilities with a 1000-2000 seater stadium, to be used by the youth team and, when we eventually got one, the women’s team.
One issue with our Y-League and W-League sides has been the lack of a dedicated home pitch. We’ve played at Epping Stadium, John Barro Stadium, CB Smith Reserve and now ABD Stadium in Hume, essentially making us nomads. The one game our W-League side played at CFA was difficult to watch, not because of the quality of the performance, but because there was no raised viewing area to watch it from.
Though getting public transport to or parking at La Trobe is terrible, it would be amazing to have a small stadium where we could watch our women and youth play weekly, knowing it belonged to us. We clearly don’t need a 7000-seat stadium like the Academy Stadium in Manchester, but even adding a grandstand on the western border of the elite training pitch would give us the capacity to play competitive matches there.
NPL and NPLW
Our W-League side, in its short history, is the crowning achievement of CFG involvement in Melbourne. Single-handedly we’ve dragged the level of professionalism in the women’s game up a notch, forcing our rivals to invest in their sides to compete with us. This has lead to world-class players wearing our kit and, more importantly, winning trophies.
The only negative to be said about our involvement in women’s football so far is that we’re yet to really produce any quality youth players through our team. We’ve certainly had some good youth products in our squad (Goad, Chidiac, Galabadaarachchi to name a few), but none of them have stayed long enough to forge a career in our squad and most have excelled after leaving.
This year, our senior men’s side has seen the benefit of a decade of youth production, with Metcalfe, Genreau and Atkinson becoming important players in our senior team. With no youth W-League, we currently have no way of enticing youth players to learn the City style.
By gaining entrance into the NPLW, we would have the capacity to give some of our players who don’t choose to go the NWSL continuity, employment and game-time during the off-season. It would also allow us to scout and train some of the best female youth players in Australia to add further depth to our W-League side.
Having an NPLW side may also alleviate some of the issues we have yearly with players arriving late and our team having no pre-season before the W-League. By playing together, most of our squad will have a solid understanding of the City style of play and our expectations.
With the independent A-League process in full swing, we can surely expect to see the end of cookie-cutter websites and the beginning of clubs having integrated and personalised websites. Our EPL brethren have shown a keen interest in content creation, particularly through their 'CityTV' section of their website, which includes player features, vlogs, highlight reels, flashbacks and special features. CityTV publishes 3-4 videos per day on their website, free to access, allowing fans to feel closer to the club and learn more about the players.
Knowing who is behind the keyboard of our now renowned social media accounts, we would expect to see more and more content created for Melbourne City as we gain more control over our online destiny. Hopefully (and, yes, Talking City have a vested interest in this having broadcast a game already) this would include pre-season match live-streams and youth matches.
And your thoughts?
These are just a few ideas of where the club can go to the future, but we at Talking City want to hear what you think the next decade of Melbourne City will look like off the park. Let us know of some of your ideas by taking to the comments section of the social media post you accessed this from.