FFA board nominee Remo Nogarotto says Australian football should aspire to promotion and relegation and if elected believes he can help end the 15 years of bitter relations between fans.
At Monday’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney the expanded FFA congress will vote in four new directors to the Board as well as a potential new Chair to replace the outgoing Steven Lowy.
Among the 11 candidates is former Chairman of Soccer Australia Remo Nogarotto who has 30 years’ experience in football administration.
This includes being on the committee which established the A-League as well as working with the Italian FA and advising Inter Milan and Juventus on stadium redevelopment projects.
He is a also a former director of the NSW Liberal Party and Managing Director of the CT Group which provides corporate advice to large companies across many geographic markets.
Nogarotto told FTBL his experience in football, politics and business will be of great benefit as football moves away from the Lowy era.
“All this experience has given me a wonderful panorama beyond Australia”, he says.
“It allows me to look into to how these clubs and governing bodies work and to pull out of that what I believe is world's best practice.
“Australian football needs to be inward looking not outward looking and it needs to understand and take advantage of the fact that we are the world’s biggest game.
“Around the world there are practices that represent world’s best practice and we should be borrowing from that.
“Expansion, second division, promotion and relegation, that’s part of it and so is how commercial relationships and media contracts are struck.
“We should be using our relationships inside this huge family of football to advance our game locally. We shouldn’t always look to the AFL or the NRL for guidance.”
In terms of growing the game, Nogoratto believes that expansion and a national second division with promotion and relegation are inextricably linked.
“You can’t have any of those conversations in isolation,” he said.
“So we need to start making decisions about the independence of the A-League, in context to what it means to expansion, a national second division and how aspirationally any idea of promotion and relegation can work inside that context.
“It’s a really big threshold conversation for the game to have and then for the Board to make a decision around.”
When then-FFA CEO John O’Neil's uttered the phrase ‘old soccer versus new football’ at the advent of the A-League it caused an 'us versus them' mentality amongst many NSL supporters.
Nogoratto, who served on the board of former NSL clubs Marconi and Northern Spirit, believes that if he is elected to the board it would help bring an end to the 15 years of division.
“My appointment in itself would bring with it some strong symbolism,” he said. “It would show that there is a genuine desire on the part of the FFA because my football CV straddles both eras.
“But more importantly you have to move symbolism into action and it would be my task around the board table to provide context to decisions that we make.
“It is difficult to make decisions moving forward unless you understand where the game has come from and everything that I have done for the game prepares me for the challenges of tomorrow."
As well as running the national teams, the role of the FFA Board is to appeal to governments for funding, negotiate sponsorship deals and bring in broadcasting revenue.
Nogoratto believes his corporate and government experience will help the board achieve its financial goals.
“The single biggest non business challenge for the board is more affective stakeholder management,” he said.
“The management of stakeholders over the past couple of years has not been good enough.
“Obviously an understanding of those stakeholders and empathy with the challenges that they all face, as well as an ability to communicate with them will be key in that area and I have plenty to offer.
“With that comes relationships but relationships aren’t enough if we aren’t going to build a sustainable business model.
“So we really need to understand what we are offering to the market and work very closely with our commercial partners so that any outcome has a mutual benefit around it.”
Lastly Nogoratto believes that supporters should be excited about the what the future will hold for Australian football.
“Fans should expect a new era of transparency and more effective engagement with all stakeholders,” he said.
“We live in a day and age where fans feel a sense of empowerment, want to feel a sense that their voice is being heard, so it’s not unreasonable for fans to expect this board to be more transparent and consultative than perhaps previous boards.
“I’d like to think that this board will take some pretty bold decisions such as the expansion of the A-League quickly and not prevaricate over decisions but can signal very clearly to stakeholders on the key issues where it stands on the game.”