Story

From the Caulfield Glen Eira and Port Phillip Leader
Reported by Paul Amy

Nathan Batsanis on the go for Port Melbourne.

Nathan Batsanis on the go for Port Melbourne.

 
NEW president Michael Shulman says Port Melbourne has some financial “challenges’’ but insists it is set for a strong year on and off the field.

Players and coaches have been asked to renegotiate their contracts as the Borough board seeks to rein in costs ahead of the 2017 VFL season.

It followed the club announcing a loss of $300,000 at its AGM in December, hit by reduced takings from its gaming venue The Rex Hotel in Port Melbourne and having two home games shifted from North Port Oval due to the condition of the ground.

A number of board members was voted out, making way for a group including accountant Shulman and former players Glenn Robertson and Adrian Bonaddio.

Peter Bromley survived as president but has been replaced by Shulman.

Port Melbourne officials met AFL Victoria bosses this month to discuss the club’s financial position.

Shulman said he was aware of talk Port Melbourne was experiencing problems but declared it “isn’t about to close the doors’’.

He acknowledged the club could no longer rely on The Rex as its main source of income and had to “diversify’’ its revenue base and develop closer links with the local community.

Port Melbourne coach Gary Ayres Picture: Richard Serong

More sponsors and members were also needed.

“What we’re doing is looking at all the costs of operation, on the basis we want to springboard the club into this century,’’ Shulman said.

“A new board has been elected and we’re looking at every corner of operation to see are there cost reductions, are there revenue enhancements and what do we need to do to not only stay in the competition but to be a very, very formidable team.

“The club itself has a net asset position of well over $1 million, but a lot of that is tied up in the redevelopment that occurred with the new clubhouse function facility. So we are liquid and we can pay all our bills when they fall due … what we want to do is broaden our horizons as a club and to do that the first step is to review our current operations and determine what’s good, bad or indifferent.’’

Shulman said revenue from the gaming venue, operated by the AHL Group, had declined in the past few years but could grow in the next three or four.

“But we don’t want to rely on ifs. That’s why we have to go out and do our own thing. What the revenue from The Rex will be, the revenue from The Rex will be. I’ve got to cut our reliance on that as a source of income.’’

Shulman said Port would in the next few days announce an initiative of the players and coaches to help the club’s bottom line.

Port Melbourne has commitments from former St Kilda pair Eli Templeton and Brody Murdoch and ex-Williamstown forward Anthony Anastasio, but they are yet to sign.

Other key players haven’t put pen to paper but Shulman said he expected every player to be contracted by the end of the week.

The Borough have regained former AFL speedster Robin Nahas and Mitch Wooffindin and recruited ex-Carlton wingman Dillon Viojo-Rainbow and Williamstown premiership forward Dylan Conway.

Two-time JJ Liston Trophy champion Shane Valenti is also likely to return.

Former Hawthorn champion and Geelong and Adelaide coach Gary Ayres is preparing for his 10th season at North Port Oval.

It has been a turbulent off-season for the VFL, with Frankston losing its licence, North Ballarat considering pulling out of the league and suffering board instability, and Casey Scorpions changing their name to Casey Demons.

Shulman said it was becoming increasingly difficult for stand-alone clubs, making it essential for Port Melbourne to get its affairs in order.