Neeld in line for big payout
Payout in the region of $500,000 is the price of Mark Neeld's 'disastrous coaching tenure' to already cash-strapped Melbourne FC, says chief football writer Caroline Wilson.PT2M42S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2odjy 620 349 June 17, 2013
AFL boss Andrew Demetriou has disputed Melbourne chief executive Peter Jackson's assertion that Melbourne is ''a huge impediment to the industry'', but conceded the Demons' dreadful on-field performances had hurt the competition.
Defending the AFL's imminent decision to throw the club a seven-figure lifeline, which will fund Mark Neeld's $600,000 payout, Demetriou said the club's lack of competitiveness was proving costly to other clubs.
''I don't believe they are an impediment to the competition - they are a valuable part of the competition,'' he said. ''But it is true that performances like these impact upon crowds and hurt the broadcasters when ratings are poor.
''It hurts Hawthorn when Melbourne play them in a Hawthorn home game and the attendance is estimated at 15,000 or 20,000 people … that's a $200,000 impact to Hawthorn.''
Demetriou would not discuss details of the AFL's $2 million bail-out, but it is understood virtually all the money will be used to pay out contracts, including Neeld's and that of former football department boss Chris Connolly, who will not be returning to the club.
Chief executive Cameron Schwab, sacked in April, also required a seven-figure payout, and caretaker coach Neil Craig, contracted until the end of 2014 on more than $400,000, is also no certainty to remain at the club beyond this year.
While most assistant coaches come out of contract at the end of 2013, list manager Tim Harrington is understood to have a rolling financial agreement with the club.
Jackson, the interim CEO, is also looking at a number of club executives as he works to streamline the top-heavy Melbourne administration. The board will also be reduced, with at least three more directors expected to follow president Don McLardy and Stuart Grimshaw, who quit the board on Friday.
Demetriou attempted to play down the number of failed appointments at Melbourne and denied the industry was disproportionately cavalier in its recent history of costly coaching payouts.
''Things can change in any business when appointments don't work out,'' he said. ''Sometimes it happens to clubs that can afford it and sometimes to clubs that can't. It's not ideal.
''The sequence of events is generally the same and it happens in big business too. You hire people on the assumption you believe they are going to be the best people for the job and then it doesn't work out and you have to decide on avoiding the cost of letting them go or whether by keeping them are they going to prove more costly in the long term.''
Demetriou said he had no fear of a backlash from rival clubs, which have privately pointed to Melbourne's litany of errors, including the club's deliberate attempts to forfeit games for draft picks.
''The first point is, one, the clubs are supportive of us working to make every club as successful as possible. Two, the help we are planning is highly conditional and we have been promised all the assistance necessary in this by Peter Jackson.''
Jackson has confirmed the decision to sack Neeld was even based on issues concerning broadcasters and rival clubs. While terrible on-field results and the prospect of losing disenchanted players at the end of the season were obvious reasons for Neeld's demise, Jackson listed several concerns as to why the Demons will undergo another rebuild.
''This club has made modest profits over the last couple of years and it's managed to wash its face, but very modestly,'' he said. ''When the wheels fell off, so to speak, at the beginning of the year with heavy losses, so did the revenues.
''At a football club where you have very high fixed-cost structures - being player wages and salaries - when you lose revenue at the top, it goes straight to the bottom line.
''We didn't have the cash resources. We are not structured financially like a Collingwood, or an Essendon, that can withstand that sort of pressure. So we had to go to the AFL to seek support.
''I think the compelling thing from their point of view, and the rest of the industry, is that we are a huge impediment to the industry at the moment, in terms of opposition clubs playing us as their home game, our stakeholders, the MCC, broadcasters.
''Everything you look at, we are an impediment, and we need to fix it up as a whole. It doesn't come down to one person.''
With Jon Pierik