Nelson expecting NZ Football decision soon
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio remains “hopeful” that the top of the south's bid for a national league franchise will get the go-ahead from New Zealand Football in the next two weeks.
Sources have told the Nelson Mail that the bid has informally been approved, prior to ratification, but that a team won't take the field in the ASB Premiership this coming season.
Miccio would not confirm that the bid had been accepted, saying there would be an announcement either way in two to three weeks, but he did add that the primary focus was on securing the franchise licence.
"What we want to do is to develop pathways for our youth and our players. So whether we are successful this year or next year or the year after, the success is securing the licence."
The licence is for a youth under-20 team and senior men's team, each with 25 players.
However with the ASB Premiership due to start in October and a final decision still at least a week away, it is hard to see how a proposed team with no players or coaches could be ready inside two months.
In comments made to Fairfax Media earlier this week when revealing that Wairarapa's bid had been unsuccessful, Wairarapa United coach Phil Keinzley also suggested there would be no new teams added this year.
"They were talking about an expanded league but, in the end, nothing's changed," said Keinzley.
When asked yesterday to confirm whether the top of the south bid was still alive, NZF chief executive Grant McKavanagh said: "What I will confirm is that we are still in communications with Nelson regarding it.
"Everything is pretty imminent. We've got to get it to our players' committee next week, and from there it's just the board's sign-off, so it's not too far away from everything being settled."
With a successful bid pending, the attention has changed focus to where the money will come from to fund a franchise that will cost about $300,000 a year to run.
Miccio would not discuss exact figures but was forthcoming on the structure of the bid's funding and sponsorship model.
Throughout the process, the concern for the local clubs and Nelson Bays Football was that having a national league side might jeopardise funding at a grassroots level.
Nelson Bays Football general manager Clive Beaumont said that point has always been the major concern for stakeholders in Nelson.
"The bid is supported in principle as long as it does not cannibalise funding which goes into grassroots in the game in Nelson."
The presidents of the three major clubs in Nelson - consortium member Nelson Suburbs' Jason Lavington, Richmond Athletic's Stu Reid (a former member of the consortium) and FC Nelson's Martin Byrne (speaking from a personal standpoint) - all echoed that sentiment.
Lavington added that the reason he originally became involved with the consortium was to “make sure we are not robbing Peter to pay Paul".
Miccio said that while the bid would still seek funding from donations and grants, the consortium would sooner pull out than take existing funding away from the region's football community.
He also reiterated that no funding would come from gaming machines.
"Categorically, it has been a focus and a commitment we have been making as a franchise consortium in conjunction with working with the local football community - there won't be a levy, and there won't be funding coming from existing sources.
"There will be no funding from pokies. There are a number of places where you can apply for grants that aren't pokies, but at this stage we don't want to disclose where those are."
Miccio said there would be no new player levies but that teams would be given an opportunity to contribute through a team donations funding line, which had been included in the proposal's budget.
"We are not seeking, nor have we ever formally asked, the clubs to consider a player fee. It's nothing we will be pursuing and it's not in our bid.
"Yes, there has been a conservative estimate [listed in the proposal budget] for a club donation figure and from fundraising evenings and events. But that is voluntary and up to the clubs."
In terms of financing the franchise, there are two sponsorship funding streams - a corporate funding stream which includes a VIP membership programme for corporates and individuals, and a premium sponsorship funding stream, typically a naming sponsor.
There is also a proportion of "in kind" sponsorship, which involves the sponsor providing equipment or resources in place of cash, such as playing gear and laundry services. The "in kind" sponsorship is 100 per cent confirmed.
Corporate funding is currently only 50 per cent confirmed, but there could be a full year to fill those gaps. Most importantly for the bid, the premium sponsorship is 100 per cent confirmed.
Two premium sponsors have been secured, but their identities will not be revealed until there is an official announcement and launch.
One of the sponsors is locally based, while the other is an international with local links.
In total, 75 per cent of cash sponsorship has been confirmed, with a large proportion of the remainder being sought through fundraising from at least two planned major events, should the bid be formally endorsed.
"If we get everything that is budgeted, there is more than we need and there is a considerable amount that will go to reserves, so we do have that flexibility."
Miccio said this sponsorship model was "unique" and had stood up to scrutiny from NZF.
He said the sponsorship model was distinctive not just because it would not rely on any funding from pokies but because there would be no gate take, meaning entry to games in a national-level competition would be free of charge.
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