To our valued club members and families,
On Sunday, 29th July, once our relegation from the National Premier League was confirmed, I immediately felt the need to pen an open letter to you, our loyal supporters. My first reaction is to apologise to you all, for what has been an extremely disappointing campaign. While I am disappointed and saddened as I am sure many of you are, I have now had time to collect my thoughts and reflect on the season.
My apologies are delivered not only from myself but the Club Board Members and the current coaching staff. You have continued to support us throughout the season despite the results and performances which have not been good enough; we thank you and assure you that it is, and has been, very much acknowledged and appreciated.
As I reflect on the season and what has led to this situation, it will, without a doubt, go down as one of the most challenging seasons we have seen at Birkalla, in recent times. We started the season very positively with the appointment of Simon Catanzaro as Senior Coach and his staff, Barney Smith, Emanuel Pais and Neil Tate.
We were confident in this team as one that could not only get the best out of experienced players, but as a team that could develop young players with potential, and provide them with opportunities to prepare for senior football. However, quickly we were challenged with some unexpected events. Some of these being:
- Losing 3-4 long-term and stable players to other clubs as they sought alternative opportunities;
- Serious player injuries, including to one of our new signings
- Issues with visa that had prevented another new signing to remain in Australia to play
- Finding other players at short notice
- Change in coaching staff at the U18 and Reserves level
- Shortage of volunteers
- The loss of Joe Gauci to A League Club, Central Coast (although while a great loss to our club, this is by far, much more a positive point!)
- Delays to the upgrade works to Jack Smith Park grounds and club rooms which has caused detriment for the entire club from our Juniors to our Seniors. We cannot under-estimate how having no permanent base, moving week on week to different grounds, has had impact.
As Chairman, I have had to reflect on my own decisions, particularly around player recruitment. Did I question the coaching staff enough around certain acquisitions? However, my intentions have and will always be, to back the First Team management and be guided by their knowledge and experience. Even in June, when the opportunity to sign new players was possible, as a Club, with reduced income and unforeseen expenses particularly for ground hire, we could not financially support this.
But these are all excuses. What it comes down to is that we didn’t perform as well as we should have and we now face relegation to State League 1. It is more than disappointing, we are gutted!
However, we now have to turn our focus to next year, learn from our mistakes and move forward. I have already seen glimmers of hope this season, as I watched a number of younger players get the opportunity to train and play in the First Team. I convince myself we must be doing something right.
Rest assured that we will now work to prepare for next season to give our senior teams the best possible chance of bouncing back to the NPL at the first opportunity. Our Junior program continues to be strong and we continue to develop these players, to one day, play at their highest level.
What we ask from you now is to stick with us, continue to support us and help us. Together we will come back to where we belong. We are fully committed to bringing exciting football back, to a new and improved, Jack Smith Park.
With sincere thanks