Who Is Walter Pless?

Walter_Pless

A teacher by profession, but has been a football writer for 33 years. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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Brian_Wightman_Minister_for_Sport_9_March_2011

Photo:  Brian Wightman, the Minister for Sport and Recreation [PlessPix]

The following is a media release issued today by the Minister for Sport and Recreation:

The Minister for Sport and Recreation, Brian Wightman, today released the completed Tasmanian A-League team business case and announced further work with the Football Federation of Tasmania towards the goal of a Tasmanian A-League side.

Mr Wightman, who is a former state league soccer player and continues to play for Riverside Olympic, said the business case made a substantial contribution towards the A-League goal.


“The Tasmania United business case is a landmark document towards the creation of a Tasmanian A-League team,” he said.

“This report sets out the fundamentals of a Tasmanian A-League side – including financial and organisational modelling and our competitive advantages and disadvantages.”

Upon receiving the report, Mr Wightman thanked the members of the Tasmania United taskforce for their passion and dedication.

“The Tasmania United taskforce have driven the A-League campaign to this point and their hard work has been crucial in the development of the business case,” he said.

The key findings of the business case include:

  •   A successful bid will need $8-10 million in start-up funding and cash reserves,
  •   Tasmanian Government support will be vital to the success of any Tasmanian bid,
  •   Bellerive and Aurora Stadium show favourable stadium economics,
  •   Tasmanian businesses have shown interest in sponsoring a Tasmanian team,
  •   Based on market research, home games are expected to attract an average attendance of 13,460 across the season,     and 13,825 members are likely to join, and
  •   A Tasmanian side is likely to make operating losses until its fifth year.

The business case, completed by Coffey Commercial Advisory, reports Tasmanian Government funding will be vital and provides a number of different options for Government funding.

This includes the potential to underwrite the team, provide a large annual grant or a naming rights sponsorship arrangement.  The business case suggests this would require a large Government investment of around $7.5 – 10 million over the team’s first five years.

The business case also provides a situational analysis, taking the view that the A-League is in a period of consolidation rather than expansion.

The league recently withdrew the license (sic) held by North Queensland Fury and the provisional 12th license (sic) held by the Sydney Rovers consortium. It is estimated that A-League clubs lost a combined $25 million last season amid declining crowd and membership.

Mr Wightman said that a combination of these factors meant that in his view, a team is still some years away.

“The A-League is in a period of consolidation. Growing interest in the round-ball game in Australia and our region guarantees that the A-League will grow but it is unlikely the A-League would admit a Tasmanian side in its current phase,” he said.

“Despite current financial troubles, the A-League is a fantastic competition which has dramatically increased the standard of football in Australia. I’d love to see a Tasmanian side in the national competition.

“An investment of up to $10 million dollars in an A-League team is not something the Tasmanian Government is currently able to provide.

“Furthermore, this modelling is based upon an average crowd of more than 13,000 at each home game in Hobart and Launceston. While the stadium economics are sound, if crowds drop substantially below this point, the team looks unviable.

“The Tasmanian Government’s Sport and Recreation funding priority will remain funding grassroots sport and recreation, where most Tasmanians see the dividends.”

Mr Wightman said he was proud of the Government’s investment in football, totalling more than $1 million over the past three years. This includes investment in TIS football programs, facility upgrades across the state and sport development funding to FFT.

Mr Wightman said the next step on the road to an A-League side was working with FFT on a longer-term plan culminating in a Tasmanian A-League side.

“In my view, any A-League side should be built in a similar way to the Cricket Tasmania model, in which the state sporting organisation manages the game from the grassroots right through to elite state teams,” he said.

“The FFT shares our aspiration for a Tasmanian A-League side and we’ll work with them on a longer-term plan for an A-League side while addressing fundamentals.

“The FFT have discussed a number of possibilities for improving the game at a local level, including reintroducing the State League, further development in football facilities and attracting individual A-League games in Hobart or Launceston which would help gauge wider community interest.

“As a Government we will look at those possibilities within our financial constraints.”

The business case is available at www.development.tas.gov.au/sportrec