From Paul Amy, Caulfield Glen Eira Leader
June 15, 2018 5:00pm
IT has been booted off its ground for the third time season, but Port Melbourne Football Club is likely to get some good news about North Port Oval next week.
Port Phillip Council this afternoon confirmed it was trying to bring forward the planned reconstruction of the playing surface to this year.
If funding for the multimillion-dollar project is approved at a meeting on June 20 the works will start at the end of the season.
The Borough took another financial hit and lost another home game after North Port Oval was yesterday deemed unsafe for football due to soft patches around the centre.
Saturday’s Round 11 clash against Geelong has been shifted to Williamstown.
Port also had to move its Round 1 and 2 home matches elsewhere, and the unfurling of the 2017 premiership flag was delayed until Round 6.
“This is a very disappointing outcome for our club and beyond our control and yet again, reconfirms why the ground needs to be redeveloped,’’ Port president Michael Shulman said in a statement on the club website.
“We naturally understand and share the frustration of you, our members, as well as that of our players, coaches, staff and sponsors.’’
North Port earlier in the year.
He added: “Player safety and welfare is of course of utmost importance at all times, hence we need to respect the decision that has been made.’’
Shulman told Leader earlier in the year that the loss of the Round 1 and 2 fixtures would show up on Port’s bottom line since it would be denied money from membership, gate receipts, merchandise, food and drinks sales, and income from pre-match president’s lunches.
The state of North Port Oval has been a regular problem for Port Melbourne in the past few years.
It had to give up two home games in 2013 and another two in 2016 owing to problems with the surface.
Mayor Bernadene Voss.
This afternoon Cr Voss said the council shared the club and community’s disappointment about tomorrow’s fixture being shifted to Williamstown.
“I can assure everyone that under our partnership with the club and AFL Victoria, we are all committed to a long-term solution for this important sports facility,’’ she said.
“Despite this setback, we are all excited at the progress on bringing forward a much needed ground reconstruction, which will ensure water can drain away from the playing surface.
“Council’s draft budget, due to be voted on at the 20 June council meeting, proposes bringing forward the required funding so the ground reconstruction can start directly after the end of the 2018 season.’’
Asked if the council would consider financial compensation to Port Melbourne over the loss of three home games, she said: “Council has not previously compensated the club for rescheduled fixture matches. However we are working closely with the club and AFL Victoria on providing a long-term solution through the delivery of the much-needed ground reconstruction.’’
Voss said that since April an AFL Victoria turf consultant had overseen works at the ground and undertaken regular post-match inspections.
“We are confident this arrangement, in partnership with (contractor) CityWide, is the best way to deal with the surface’s inherent challenges until a reconstruction is undertaken,’’ she said.