Is the sporting landscape already on the verge of change? Many believe that the ways of the past are going to have to change dramatically in the next couple of years if amateur or recreational sporting bodies are to survive.
In October 2013 Cycling WA, the State’s competitive cycling administrative body was forced to wind up when it was revealed it had lost $53,408 in the past financial year, taking its total accrued deficit to $79,395. At the time WestCycle chief executive Clint Shaw said Cycling WA had been operating with an unsustainable business model. The sport created a new governing body called Cyclesport, and its members will now be taking a far closer interest in the day to day running of their sport.
News that Mandurah City Football club was left with a debt of around $7,000 after hosting Perth Glory v Melbourne Heart in a pre-season friendly has apparently led to meetings with Government officials; as the aim of the game was to promote football in the Mandurah region. Apparently Perth Glory and Melbourne Heart, – two privately run clubs, – have walked away with the Government’s money (Royalties for Regions) and left a local community club struggling to cover costs imposed on them for security staff, public toilets and the like. It is believed questions are being raised as to how the game’s administrators could allow a regional club like Mandurah to be left having to bear the costs on an event that was supposed to benefit them and their local community.
News that another state sporting body is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and is likely to be facing a full audit is not good news for sport in Western Australia, as this sport is one of many other sporting organisations also doing it tough.
Many are saying that the Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR) needs to have a far more hands on approach with the sports that it hands money to. That it needs to make these bodies accountable for the money given and how it is spent. However does the DSR currently have the man power to do this? In fact is this really their role?
According to their website “the Department of Sport and Recreation is the lead agency responsible for the implementation of government policy and initiatives in sport and recreation.” So maybe the Government and Sports Minister need to implement a policy where it is the department’s responsibility to monitor the use of monies given to the various sports in order for the DSR to fulfil its role, which is to “contribute to the healthy lifestyle of Western Australians by increasing physical activity in the community through sport and recreation.” Surely this statement means funding promotion and events that see more people participating.
What is happening according to many insiders in sporting organisations across the state, is funds that are being received from the DSR are not being spent on promoting the various sports and increasing participation, but on paying staff salaries. The word is that most sports are struggling to find sponsorship in the current economic climate. The cost of living has risen, and therefore so too have staff salary expectations. Some staff and members of various sporting bodies have stated confidentially that the salaries being paid to some organisations Chief Executives are unrealistic, and need to be trimmed back to more realistic levels.
There is no doubt that many of the sporting bodies in the State are doing it tough, the question is should the DSR or the Office of the Minister of Sport be paying closer attention to the ways in which these bodies spend tax payers money in order to ensure that it is indeed spent on increasing physical activity in the community in those sports that receive funding? Should they be carrying out quarterly audits? Or should those at the top of the various sports, the Board members and the CEO’s be held more accountable? They are after all the custodians of these sports and it is their responsibility to ensure that funding received is spent in the appropriate and intended areas. Should they therefore not be the ones policing the expenditure and reporting back to the DSR?
One thing is certain, if as indicated, another sporting body does go the way of Cycling WA, and has to be wound up, reconstituted, and re-financed, alarm bells should definitely be ringing. Change must happen in the way this money is allocated and spent, before more associations go the same way. At the same time the DSR needs to assist the various sports in finding ways to attract more sponsorship. Sadly some of the restrictions placed on Healthway related sponsorship is in fact detrimental in terms of finding supporting sponsorship; what is also frustrating some sports are the restrictions are not uniform across all sports, especially in terms of alcohol service.
In the today’s world sponsors want to see a return on their investment and sadly with very little media coverage given to sport below the full time professional competitions few sponsors can see any value in supporting the lower tier competitions. That is why these organisations are doing it tough.
Rest assured change needs to happen and it needs to happen quickly, whether it does will depend on whether the Minister’s advisors having their finger on the pulse. If they don’t that pulse may well stop for one sport before they realise it.