The Frankston Football Club, one of the few remaining non-AFL affiliated teams in Victoria’s state competition, has been left stunned at the looming decision by the league to terminate its licence.
The club went into voluntary administration a month ago on the eve of its last game of the season, but was confident it would be able to field a side in 2017.
Paul Burness from Worrells, the firm appointed as administrators, said AFL Victoria had indicated to him at a meeting on Monday that the termination of the licence was “imminent”. He said the league had indicated the move would be made official this week.
AFL Victoria said no decision had been made. “AFL Victoria will not provide comment until any official legal advice and documents are provided to the club regarding its licence,” it said in a statement.
Frankston senior coach Patty Hill told 774 ABC Melbourne’s Waleed Aly he first heard the news through the media. “We were working through a financial plan that would have seen us being able to compete again next year,” he said.
“I haven’t had any explanations from anyone.”
The number of standalone clubs has been dwindling in the VFL competition for a number of years as they align themselves with the AFL. Coburg, Port Melbourne and Williamston are the only ones that do not have an affiliation, meaning there is significantly less opportunities for non-AFL listed players to compete in the VFL.
Young men ‘leaders in the community’
Mr Burness said the fate of the club’s financial future would be decided at a meeting with the club’s creditors next week. The club’s board has put forward an offer that would see the club continue and its unsecured creditors paid a partial return on their debts over a four-year period.
Frankston Mayor James Dooley said the news came as a shock but he hoped to hold a meeting with the AFL to plead the club’s case.
“There was a question about the on-field success of the Dolphins but we see them as being successful. The club is very valuable to the community,” he said.
Councillor Dooley said the club offered young men who do not get drafted at 18 a second chance. “You can get paid more at local clubs, but they play [at the Dolphins] because they want to player higher level football,” he said.
Hill said the opportunity for young men to become elite sportsmen had been taken away. “What you find is young men that behave in an elite manner in the community, and these are all young men that are trying to succeed in life. They’re good sons, they’re good in school, they work,” he said.
“They do all the right things in the community. There’s no drinking, there’s no drugs, they’re exactly what we want young men to aspire to be.”
‘There’s a lot of love for the Dolphins’
Local and state governments only recently funded a significant multi-million-dollar overhaul of the Dolphin’s social club.
Hill said the Dolphins had played a significant role in Frankston — an area known for its economic struggles. “Frankston over the years has been a low socio-economic community and they tend to gravitate towards sports,” he said.
“There’s a lot of love for the Dolphins down there, we get good crowds and good support. “It’s been in the VFL for 50 years and in existence for 130 years, so in forming a part of the community and the way the town works — it’s very important.”