The Glory, and the fury

THE Fremantle City Football Club is seething over a deal between Fremantle council and Perth Glory, saying the city was “dazzled” by professional sports stars at the expense of ordinary folk.

The council’s finance and policy committee on Wednesday approved the terms of a lease for Glory to take over its temporary offices at Fremantle Oval when it moves back to Walyalup Koort.

While the soccer club hasn’t got a problem with that, president Mark De Luca hit the roof when the he discovered a note in the agenda that council staff “are also in discussion with the club regarding the use of Ken Allen Field”.

Front runner

“For a good five years or longer we have been rallying around the Fremantle council asking them to be the front runner for Ken Allen Field,” Mr De Luca told the Herald.

The field is currently used by the Fremantle Roosters rugby league club, which will move out next year when its new clubrooms in Treeby are finished by Cockburn council.

Mr De Luca said as recently as two months ago club members met with councillors to show them a draft document outlining plans to expand and diversify the club using Ken Allen.

But the first they heard about Glory’s interest was the council agenda.

“We are bursting at the seams and our grounds are quite average,” Mr De Luca said.

“One of the other strategies for the club – which is not just football as we do darts and bingo – is to increase our diversity and we want to introduce Indigenous girls’ touch rugby and walking football for seniors.

“This deal impacts on providing this diversity and giving back to the community, and Glory will not provide any of that.”

Mr De Luca said when the club first submitted an EOI in 2017, it was knocked back by the council because it lacked diversity. He said after rejigging the plans to address that problem, it was pretty gutting seeing Glory get a look-in with an all-soccer plan.

His deputy Alex Ricciardi agreed: “We feel like we have been blindsided and totally put out of the picture,” he said.

“The council has done no due diligence and there’s been no correspondence; I think the council saw $312,000 a year in rent and were dazzled by a professional sporting club, just like they did with the Dockers when they gave them a 21-year lease with no consequences written in if they did what they did and walk away.”

A large contingent of club members attended the meeting and made a quick delegation.

It earned an amendment to the motion by Hilton warder Sam Wainwright that ensured they were kept in the loop over any discussions about Ken Allen.

A spokesperson from the council said while there had been “general conversations” with Glory about Ken Allen “there is no current EOI process.

“Fremantle Roosters have indicated they wish to depart Ken Allen Field in April 2022. The city will continue to assess options for the field and talk to interested sporting clubs and community groups.”

by STEVE GRANT

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