Update from the Board
At this time of the year, we would typically be entering the final few rounds of the season. Some teams would be on the brink of securing a coveted title and others would be chasing down every ball to avoid relegation. Preparations for vote count nights and other end of season celebrations would be underway. Students would be trialling for a trip to Uni Nationals. But as you are all acutely aware, nothing about 2020 has been typical, and 2020 has brought its share of challenges to the club as well as each of our members individually.
Responding to coronavirus restrictions has been a challenging exercise for the volunteers who run MUSC. The Victorian Chief Health Officer’s directions have changed a number of times since March, and each time the club needed to spend a significant amount of time digesting the advice from DHHS, Football Victoria, Sport & Recreation Victoria, City of Melbourne, and the University of Melbourne to understand what activities could be done safely, when competitions might commence, and what the budget implications would be. It was not unusual for this iterative response to still be in development when the next major change to the directions was issued. This has made communication of club happenings difficult. Updates have been communicated directly to those affected instead of more generally and publicly like this. Hopefully the downwards trend of this second wave continues, and the below update has some longevity as we look towards summer and the 2021 season.
By this stage of the year, the club typically has 360-380 members. These are our registered players and volunteer coaches. While there are no competitions to participate in, it is still important that MUSC has members. The club will still hold an Annual General Meeting later in the year, most probably online. Members will still have their say on the direction of the club, be presented with the club’s annual financial statements, and elect the club’s office bearers.
The board has decided that any player who paid their $40 training fee is considered a 2020 club member.
To date around 260 players have made this payment. Another 70 players who trained regularly before the first suspension of football in March and returned to training afterwards will be given a final opportunity to pay that fee and become a 2020 member. For those who have been asked and are yet to pay, please consider doing so to help cover costs incurred by the club to provide you with football opportunities and in fairness to your teammates who have contributed.
2019 members from the club’s Masters teams (Men’s Over 35s and Men’s Over 45s) who were expecting to play in 2020 will each be given the opportunity to opt in for 2020 membership at no cost. These two squads did not have any pre-season so have not been provided with any football opportunities by the club in 2020.
Registration Fee Refunds
Football activities were first suspended by FFA/FV on 17 March. By this time, MUSC had already participated in the FFA Cup and we were only 4 days away from Round 1 of the Men’s State League competitions. Just over 50 players had paid their full registration fee to participate in these competitions.
Despite uncertainty as to what refunds will be given to the club by Football Victoria, all MUSC players who had paid their full registration fee have since been offered a refund by the club, less the $40 training fee that all other members have since paid. More than a dozen of these players have very generously donated part or all of the remainder of their registration fee to MUSC. Their support is greatly appreciated.
Financial Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 has had a major impact on community sporting clubs and associations. It is estimated community sport in Australia has lost $1.5 billion since the start of the pandemic and that up to one in four community sporting clubs are at risk of folding.
MUSC has been impacted. The full extent cannot yet be calculated, with Football Victoria still to announce a refund policy for team entry and player registration fees paid by clubs.
It is likely the club will make a loss of several thousand dollars for the year. This is despite minimising expenditure and the generosity of City of Melbourne waiving Princes Park hire fees and Melbourne University Sport still providing a significant portion of the club’s subsidy. With no season going ahead, not receiving expected income from sponsorship, canteen and bar takings, and player registration fees has had a significant impact.
Due to good management of the club’s finances by many committed volunteers over many years, MUSC will remain in a healthy financial position despite COVID-19.
MUSC has an Operating Reserve- a designated rainy-day fund set aside to ensure the stability of the club. The Reserve is intended to provide an internal source of funds for such scenarios as we find ourselves in this year when usual sources of income are impacted by abnormal events.
MUSC will come out the other side of this pandemic in a financial position to continue to operate as normal, albeit with a reduced cash reserve. Progress on some longer-term projects or the club’s ability to make some big-ticket equipment purchases may be set back several years.
Donate to MUSC
A number of players who paid their full registration fee have already generously donated all or part of that fee to the club, less their $40 membership fee.
If you wish to further support MUSC this year, please consider making a tax deductible donation to the club via the University of Melbourne’s giving program. Instructions and a link to the online donation form are available at https://www.musc.com.au/donations/. Donations from alumni and other supporters are also greatly appreciated.
Any donations will help offset the impact of COVID-19 on the club and allow us to bounce back to providing the best experience possible for members as the conditions allow. Donations will also be put towards achieving the club’s long-term strategic goals such as securing more access to better facilities.
If you have any questions about donating to the club, please get in touch with the board member of your choice or [email protected].
Another way to support the club is to purchase MUSC-branded gear from our Ultra Football online store (https://www.musc.com.au/musc-merchandise/). The club receives a small rebate of sales made by people who have signed up through our special link and it’s always great to see people repping club merch.
Thank you to all the volunteer coaches and committee members who’ve contributed to the club so far this year. It’s been a challenging year made more difficult by not having the reward of being able to play much football. To everyone who has done anything to keep their clubmates connected and engaged during these trying times, thank you.
Stay tuned for another update in the coming weeks which will communicate progress being made on the club’s 3-year strategic plan. The board will be seeking feedback from members on several strategic initiatives.
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on behalf of the Board of Directors
Anna Leonedas, Angela Christian-Wilkes, Christian Bianchi, Karoline Bernacki, Lachlan Boughton, Michael Owen, Philip Aitken