Melbourne Knights have declared that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis represents Australian football’s moment to unite and move forward.
In a ‘letter to the footballing public’ posted on their website, the former NSL Champions and current NPL Victoria side became the latest in a string of high-profile voices to call for football to use the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as a platform to assess its preferred direction and how it intends to get there.
In the letter, Knights, whose favourite son Mark Viduka headlines the FFA’s recently announced ‘Starting XI’ advisory panel of Australian football legends, make clear their wish to see Australian football use the ongoing crisis as a chance to pull in a unified direction for reform and express a desire for the Sunshine-based club to be a part of that.
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It’s the latest in a string of releases put out by the club seeking to contribute to the discourse surrounding the direction of the game, with Knights having released its own, alternative Whole of Football Plan in 2015 and a response to the National Second Division Working Group’s white paper in 2019.
“This break has given us all time for pause and reflection,” Knights’ letter reads. “Even amongst those in the highest offices in the sport, it is unanimously agreed that football in this country has reached a crossroads.
“We believe we all want something fairly similar: a united game, pulling in the same direction, pushing for new heights.
“The silver lining to these difficult months is that all of us in society have realised what we can achieve together is far greater than what we can achieve divided. Put simply- we will never fulfil our potential when we remain so disconnected.
“Should we continue with our existing approach – stalemated and inward-looking as Australia’s only major truly global sport – there is no chance of progress. As a game, it is clear that every inch of energy has been exhausted and the A-League which has taken up the overwhelming majority of that energy has nonetheless ground to a halt.
“Disappointed as much as the Melbourne Knights have been to have been excluded from the pinnacle of the sport for almost two decades, we still aspire to be part of the movement that re-energises not only the A-League but the entire Australian football ecosystem.
“For that to happen, clubs like ours want to and need to start giving again to Australian football. Our history and culture is well-documented and we are thrilled that our contribution is being recognised within the court of public opinion. But now, we want to help lead and deliver, more than ever before.”
Founded in 1953, Knights – then known as Melbourne Croatia – joined the NSL in 1984 and secured back-to-back championships in 1994/95 and 1995/96. Since the collapse of the competition, the club has resided in the Victorian State Leagues; winning a Dockerty Cup in 2014 but yet to reascend to the summit of a state they won three titles in before joining the NSL.