Football Victoria announces operational restructure in response to COVID-19 shutdown

Football Victoria has announced plans to scale back its operations with the aim of securing the financial viability of the organisation and its member clubs through the evolving COVID-19 health crisis. It follows the recent suspension of football activity across Australia until at least 14 April 2020.

Effective immediately, the state football’s governing body will invoke an average 40% pay reduction across its five-member executive team. In addition, it will stand down more than half of its workforce for a period of one month commencing 1 April 2020, with affected staff to have access to annual leave and long service leave entitlements for the duration of the shutdown.

Football Victoria also announced that it will:

  • Retain a core team of football, operational and business services staff on reduced hours and pay, with a focus on providing ongoing support to member clubs across the state, as well as scenario-planning to enable the resumption of all sanctioned competitions and participation programs post-shutdown;
  • Place an immediate freeze on recruitment; and
  • Consider the potential for further staffing adjustments subject to the duration and/or financial impact of the suspension of football activity.

Football Victoria anticipates that the onset of stage three government restrictions is likely to restrict non-essential services, including football activity, beyond the suspension period initially imposed by the sport (14 April). This is currently being considered by FFA and Member Federations with the view of extending the suspension of football activity beyond the current suspension period.

Following the announcement of the Commonwealth Government’s ‘Job Keeper’ support package aimed at helping employers retain staff during the COVID-19 crisis, and notwithstanding the move to scale back operations at Football Victoria, the governing body will examine details of the package with the aim of retaining as many employees as possible during this time.

Football Victoria CEO, Peter Filopoulos, described the situation facing the game as one of the most difficult in its long history in Australia.

“These are extraordinary times, which call for extraordinary action to ensure the financial viability and long-term sustainability of our game across Victoria. It’s gut-wrenching for everyone involved in the game, and I’m acutely aware of the impact that stand downs will have on the lives of our people”, he said.

“However, it’s vital that the organisation is fit-for-purpose during this period, and remains agile and responsive so that we’re in a position to get through the significant challenges facing us right now and be able to resume football activities down the track.

“Over the past couple of years, the team’s been working hard to develop and deliver on our strategic plan, FootbALLways. I’m immensely proud of them, and I’m humbled by the way the Victorian football community has responded to this unprecedented crisis by taking the appropriate precautions to ensure people stay safe and healthy”, Mr Filopoulos said.

“As an organisation, we’ve had to take measured action quickly and we’ve sought to keep our staff and clubs fully informed during this challenging period, with the absolute focus being on their health and well-being, and to support them as well as we possibly can.”

Mr Filopoulos said Football Victoria looked forward to welcoming back those people whose roles are affected by today’s announcement.

“The COVID-19 health crisis continues to evolve and challenge us with many uncertainties and unknowns. Our focus at this time is to look out for our people and clubs so they can take care of themselves and their families, and we will support our staff however we can if they choose to seek alternative employment during the period of the shutdown. Hopefully, the Federal Government’s latest income relief package will go some way to stemming the number of people we have to stand down.”

“Beyond that, we’re working tirelessly in the background in anticipation of resuming football activities as soon as we can overcome the significant challenges facing us right now. This involves comprehensive scenario planning in consultation with member clubs, local government and the broader community to enable the reactivation of as many of the 40,000 fixtures we stage each season across all levels of football”, he said.

“In the meantime, we appreciate the patience and incredible support of the Victorian football community, the lifeblood of our game.”

Mr Filopoulos said Football Victoria was working closely with FFA, Member Federations, and government agencies as it seeks the best advice on a path forward. He said the governing body was also engaging with the federal and state government in relation to financial support during this difficult period.