PERTH Glory's Football Director Dave Mitchell has been axed by the club immediately after the internal independent review was scathing about his performance in his role.
The review was welcomed by owner Tony Sage who renewed his commitment to the club for the long-term after wading through its extensive contents and recommendations.
But he acted swiftly to terminate Mitchell's contract after the review delivered a scathing verdict on his achievements.
"There is no doubt that recruitment over the past two years has been largely unsuccessful,” Western Australian sports administrator David Hatt told Sage.
“More needs to be done in the recruitment area to guard against the presence of players who simply seek a superannuated end to their careers.
“There is nothing more important than good recruiting outcomes for the Perth Glory in its present state.”
As a result, Mitchell's job was abolished and the club's former head coach - who stood down early this season to allow his assistant Ian Ferguson to step up - was released immediately.
The independent review came after Glory finished second last after an appalling season despite expensive recruitment and an encouraging start.
The rot set in under Mitchell however but continued long after Ferguson took over. Ferguson currently holds the title of the club's most unsuccessful coach in its history, but he has so far survived the review process.
The comprehensive review examined all aspects of the club’s operations, including the administration and football departments, and involved lengthy discussions with key stakeholders, including staff, supporters, players, coaches, sponsors and the media.
In all more than 20 people were interviewed, some several times, said the club.
It specifically looked at the priority areas of club structure (administration and football), player recruitment and youth development, resourcing and relationships with key stakeholders including the FFA, Football West, WA Government.
The club said it released key findings so mistakes from the past "can be acknowledged publicly and actions taken to ensure the club can be re-built in a fashion that will ensure sustained success in the future."
“There’s no denying, it has been a disappointing season for everyone involved in the Perth Glory," said Sage.
“In my view, the release of this report and the collective passion of everyone involved with the club to embrace and institute its recommendations, will ensure we raise the bar and ensure a successful future for Perth Glory.”
Sage added: “This review was not about blame.
"It was about having an honest look at ourselves and determining what actions needed to be taken to ensure the Perth Glory regained its position as one of the WA’s leading sporting teams and a credible force in the A-League.
“We are drawing a line in the sand for Perth Glory and moving forward with a revitalised spirit and a new and positive direction."
Key findings of the review included the need:
- for the club, as a matter of urgency, to establish a combined training and administration facility with Football West, most likely at a tertiary facility,
- to establish an Advisory Board, made up of high-calibre experts, to provide strategic direction, oversee and assess staff performances and determine ways to maintain growth and success,
- to identify and create a well structured development pathway for Western Australian youth that supports progression through the local competition to the Perth Glory A-League team (and beyond where appropriate),
- to refine the existing player recruitment function, to focus on youth as a priority, and where possible WA youth, and ensure all new recruits are thoroughly tested (physically and physiologically) prior to contracts being executed,
- to enhance relationship with peak WA and national football bodies, Football West and FFA, to ensure significant initiatives (i.e. combined facility, development pathway, etc) can progress in a timely and mutually beneficial manner, and
- to introduce a leadership group, made up of no more than six players from within the playing group.
Key discussion points:
Factors inhibiting Perth Glory’s viability:
Travel costs: Already discussed in detail, with Mr Hatt, FFA and Perth Glory, the club’s additional travel costs due to the extra nights accommodation on interstate trips. The amount is in excess of $200,000 per annum compared to the average of all other A-League clubs.
- Discussed with FFA, an equalisation account similar to the AFL and NRL and better targeted fixtures.
Venue costs: Identified costs in excess of $700,000 per annum that can be saved.
- To discuss with the State Government, the Town of Vincent and Allia to alleviate these identified costs.
- To explore alternative venues
Combined training and administration facility
The review found that the lack of combined administration and training facility was a factor likely to impact on the sustained success of the club and created a physical division between the football and administration departments, which negatively impacted on communication within the club and the overall club culture.
The football department currently utilises office and training facilities at AK Reserve, with the administration department some distance away, having recently relocated from unworkable facilities at nib Stadium to the offices of owner, Mr Tony Sage, in West Leederville.
- A key priority for the club should be, together with peak football body Football West, look to establish a combined training and administration facility for the code in Western Australia
- The parties should actively explore housing this facility at a major Western Australian tertiary institution,
- In the past 24 hours Perth Glory CEO, Mr Paul Kelly, has met with Football West CEO, Mr Peter Hugg, regarding the establishment of a working group to review a process to deliver to the sport a combined training and administration facility for both groups,
- In consultation with Football West Perth Glory will commence meaningful discussions with WA’s leading tertiary institutions to determine their interest in housing a facility as detailed above.
The Perth Glory Football Division encompasses coaching, support staff and medical and sports science personnel. It is currently housed at AK Reserve.
Mr Hatt stated within his report that:
“Anecdotal and initial research suggests that Glory’s football section certainly holds its own in the A-League in terms of the financial investment.
“Currently, the division is under severe pressure but the impression given is that the staff have held together reasonably tightly, which is quite an achievement.”
It was also noted that their was a disconnect between the Glory Youth squad and the senior group.
- The football department should be structured in such a way as to ensure a clear “chain of command”,
- The Head Coach to establish clear performance goals for players and staff, and ensure they are monitored and reported on regularly,
- Establish an internal Code of Conduct that provides guidance relating to players’ behavioural transgressions (largely yellow and red cards),
- The coaching staff, in consultation with the players, to appoint a leadership group selected from across the player group, not just senior players,
- Introduce a structured personal development program for all coaches,
- Engage in the services of a sports psychologist to assist in player profiling prior to recruitment, and to support players with their mental approach and the interaction between coaches and players,
- Build on the relationships with Perth Glory Youth and Perth Glory Women to be all inclusive.
- Position of Director of Football, currently held by Mr David Mitchell, has been made redundant effective immediately.
- Football department is currently being re-structured, with all staff within the division reporting directly to the CEO, Mr Paul Kelly, with Deputy Chairman, Mr Lui Guliani, working closely with Mr Kelly on matters relating to player contracts,
- In the coming months the football department will establish clear performance goals for the staff and players, with the Head Coach reporting directly to the CEO in relation to monitoring and outcomes,
- Together with the players, the coaching staff will introduce a Code of Conduct and prior to the start of the next A-League season will appoint a leadership group,
- In recent days a number of suitable sports psychologists have been identified and the club will be looking to appoint one of these people in the coming weeks,
- Glory coaching staff and players to visit and encourage young players in the various age groups of the player pathway to be established between Football West and Perth Glory.
As part of the review process, and in relation to player recruitment, Mr Hatt found that:
“There is no doubt that recruitment over the past two years has been largely unsuccessful.”
“More needs to be done in the recruitment area to guard against the presence of players who simply seek a superannuated end to their careers.”
“Their is nothing more important than good recruiting outcomes for the Perth Glory in its present state.”
- Establish an exhaustive needs analysis which identifies the deficiencies in the current player group and also identifies a best case scenario for Perth Glory,
- Look beyond and outside traditional ‘networks’, which have not worked in the past,
- With all things being equal the club should look first at youth and where possible Western Australian youth when making a recruitment decision and where appropriate err on the side of speed and agility (tested from a reliable source such as AIS, WAIS, VIS etc),
- Ensure players physical checks are rigorous prior to signing contracts.
The Perth Glory has relationships with key stakeholders, namely Football West and the FFA. The relationships are positive, but in the view of Mr Hatt more can be done to foster and improve these.
Perth Glory should work extremely hard to ensure it has a strong partnership with both of these groups, however in the case of Football West this relationship could lead to significant benefits to the club (i.e. combined training and administration facility) if progressed in a collaborative manner.
In relation to the FFA, more should be done to inform the FFA as to the significant cost impositions of some of their league-wide requirements (particularly related to travel and home ground requirements) to ensure all clubs have an equal “playing field.”
- Set up a formal mechanism for continuous dialogue between the CEO or a suitable Glory representative and Football West,
- Perth Glory to re-establish its links with football’s various stakeholders to ensure outcomes are aligned and mutually beneficial,
- Develop a program to identify talented youth.
- Establish and promote stronger Perth Glory presence in major regions of the State.
- Stepped up discussions