Dirk’s Christmas Message


Hello to all Members and Fans, it is the week before Christmas and everything is full steam ahead at Sydney FC. I want to take a look back over the last 6 months and the progress we’ve made.

Hello to all Members and Fans,

It is the week before Christmas and everything is full steam ahead at Sydney FC with us hosting 3 games at the SFS over the Christmas, New Year Period (Dec 22 v Adelaide United, Dec 29 v Melbourne Heart, Jan 8 v Central Coast Mariners).

It will certainly be interesting to see how the Sydney market responds to games on these days at these times. It is a trial initiative from the FFA and by Jan 9 we will have a fair understanding as to how it went.

Leading into tomorrow night-s game our crowds were 43% up on the corresponding games in 2010/11. Hopefully we can maintain this momentum during the festive season and the multi-game packs will prove to be the perfect stocking filler. There are three wonderful 3-packs offering great value for an excellent mix of games.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank my staff for your incredibly hard work over the last 6 months and your faith in the direction we are heading. I would also like to thank the players in all of our teams for representing the club with honour. The manner in which our HAL team has played and the nature of their work in the community exemplifies the culture that we are trying to create at the Club.

Yesterday was my 6 month anniversary in the job at SFC. I now have a very solid understanding as to where the Club is at and what our stakeholders think about us, how they communicate about us and how they engage with us. As I have stated on a number of occasions in this column we are at the commencement of a 3 year plan and whilst we are starting to develop more robust processes and systems and commercialise some of this input, much more work is required.

Most of our key stakeholders have been incredibly positive in regards to what we are trying to do at the Club and have been very supportive; others not so much. Ironically those that you would expect the greatest support and advocacy have been the most resilient in their animosity and mean spiritedness.

Ultimately these are the challenges that we have to overcome and whilst some of them may be difficult I have to be somewhat idealistic in my view that goodness will prevail and that those whose decision making is driven by their pride, ego and greed will hopefully at some stage embrace what we are trying to achieve. If we can-t get it right and people don-t learn to play nice and be mutual in their negotiations, empathetic in their interactions and compassionate in their thought processes then the game will stifle and all of those self proclaimed purists and lovers of the game will need to support another code as there won-t be a top flight professional football competition in Australia.

We have a three year ‘sweet spot- leading into the FIFA World Cup and an Asian Cup hosted on our shores to get it right. During this time the FFA will negotiate a new broadcast rights deal that will be fundamental in funding the future of the game.

In order to maximise this opportunity all of those people in Sydney who play the game or who watch the EPL late on Saturday and Sunday nights (mornings) need to give SFC a chance to become their team. Yes we need to engrain ourselves more in the community and yes we need to continue to improve how we communicate with our fans and the products we offer them (which most believe we are doing). A growing and energized SFC will be a barometer for the future of the game and it can-t be based only on wins and losses. If that is all the ‘beautiful game- is based on then I am confused as to what the beauty is! If that is the example that we want to set our children; that you are only a success in life if you win, then there will be a lot of unhappy children and adults wandering around. That is not a society in which I wish to raise my children.

As most of you know I don-t come from a football background. I have been told by some people that they will never accept me because I don-t have the appropriate pedigree. This is always a very difficult and confronting statement to defend. I don-t try and defend or justify this; my only response is that I have fallen in love with the game and so has every member of my family. To me the game transcends sport; it is where sport, art, fashion, music and community debate come together. Is there anything else in the world that can provide such juxtaposition to such varied elements? From a global perspective football could be viewed as the DNA of our society and it is only through the continued changes to our DNA that people can actually change and through this make the world a better place.

For those of you who are Seinfeld fans Kramer just yelled in my ear …Newman!!! I apologise for my ramblings but again the idealist in me truly believes that football could be the greatest conduit for social change. The key is to somehow remove the decision making on pride, ego and greed. Is that possible? Well for me to stay in the game it has to be a possibility. The day that I think it can-t be done is the day I have to have the courage to say no more. That is the day where I have to think about what the best alternate avenue will be for me to ‘make a difference-. I not only want my sons to respect me but I want to be secure in my knowledge that they will grow up in a safe environment and have a happy life to look forward to.

There are people who love the game who have made this decision and who from the sidelines still wave the flag of ‘what the game can be in Australia-. Those people who go about their business in a respectful and caring way should be congratulated and even adulated. You know who you are and please keep waving the flag because a ‘newbie- like me won-t be able to do it without you.

Based on this my 2011 Christmas wish list includes:

• Those who have an opinion try and have the courage to aggregate information to ensure that it is fact based before you share it

• Those who want the game to grow inspire someone to go to a game or become a member

• Those who love the game don-t try and kill it with the anger driven by your passion. Shout from the roof tops with passion what you love about it

• Those who are commercially involved please try and remember that a mutual benefit is a shared benefit and that a shared benefit will endure, thus ensuring excellence

• Those within the Football family, no matter how long their tenure; are the custodians for the future of the game and it isn-t about you, it-s about the sustainability of the code

I have written from the heart in all of my communications because that is who I am. Some people are confronted by this, some people don-t like dealing with emotional stuff, some people just don-t like me or care for the job that I am doing at the Club, however if you are reading this it is because you have an interest in the game.

Let-s all try and work together as ultimately we all have the same goals.

To all members, fans, staff, players and coaches have a safe and happy Christmas and may all of your New Year-s resolutions and wishes come to fruition.

Dirk Melton
Sydney FC, Chief Executive Officer