Proposed relocation of the North Melbourne Football Club

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The Proposed relocation of the North Melbourne Football Club has been an ongoing issue involving the North Melbourne Football Club since the mid-1990s. It has involved proposals that the club, during financially difficult times, move to several locations most notably the Gold Coast which was supported by the Australian Football League and put to a club member vote.

Early merger and relocation proposals[edit]

In 1996, North Melbourne and the Fitzroy Lions agreed to merge, but their plans were scuttled by Richmond who feared the creation of a 'super club'. Fitzroy was sent to the Brisbane Bears, who in turn became the Brisbane Lions.

Sydney and Canberra[edit]

The Kangaroos then signed an agreement to play some home games at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1999 until 2001. Following this the Kangaroos played home games at Canberra's Manuka Oval from 2002 until 2006, when the Kangaroos received a better offer to move home games to the Gold Coast.

Gold Coast[edit]

In 2006 the Kangaroos agreed to play 3 home games at Carrara Stadium in the Gold Coast throughout 2007, which fuelled speculation of a possible relocation there by 2010. With 10 of the 16 AFL clubs based in and around Melbourne, the AFL has always pushed for more involvement interstate. The Kangaroos, much to the dismay of the very loyal North Melbourne fans, are one team that many suggest may be the next to move, due to their smaller membership and poor existing Melbourne training facilities.

The Kangaroos had full AFL backing for their Gold Coast experiment, and the team had filmed a television commercial shown in South East Queensland promoting their team and the game. The AFL had stated that it wanted one game a week played in Queensland by 2015.[1]

The club denied speculation of a permanent move to the Gold Coast, but things could have been re-assessed based on how well the team was accepted there over the next few years.[1] In an after match at AAMI Stadium vs Port, Roos CEO Rick Aylett mentioned that the Kangaroos or the AFL have never mentioned the much despised "R" word (relocation), but it has been the work of the media. He also said that they will begin work on the Arden Street ground soon, and it will begin the roos push to become a 21st-century club. Aylett then finished by saying that the Kangaroos would never leave their Victorian faithful, and therefore wanted the name "North Melbourne" to be cemented for the next 100 years despite their almost certain move to the region from 2009 onwards.

On 2 December 2007, media reports from The Age stipulated that the AFL had garnered support from 75% of the Kangaroos Board to move the club to the Gold Coast. With the club having a unique shareholder 'system' which gives members little say in the matter, the fact that the majority of the board saw the future of the club on the Gold Coast did not bode well for opponents of a move.

The Kangaroos answered their critics with a 24 point win in their first "home" game at Carrara against the Lions. Hamish McIntosh picked up 20 possessions while Leigh Brown kicked three goals. Jess Sinclair, Glenn Archer and Daniel Wells were the Kangaroos best.

During October, supporters started to mobilise in opposition to the proposed relocation. A group called We Are North Melbourne emerged and launched a public campaign, calling for the Club's shareholder structure to be wound-up and for ordinary members to be given the final say on the relocation issue. The group also raised questions about the viability of the AFL's relocation offer which grabbed national media attention.

Another group, created by Shane Lidgerwood, staged a "Roosistence" rock concert, headed by You Am I frontman, Tim Rogers, to raise funds for the club to remain in Melbourne.

On 6 December, the North Melbourne board rejected the AFL proposal to relocate to the Gold Coast.

On 7 December they announced an intention to return to the name North Melbourne (instead of being known only as "Kangaroos"), underlining their desire to stay based in Melbourne.

The club announced a major upgrade to their Arden Street facilities in an attempt to remain competitive off the field.

Shortly after, Rick Aylett quit as CEO of the club, citing personal reasons and an inability to work with a board which was split on the issue of relocation to the Gold Coast.[2] Following the announcement, James Brayshaw named a new board, committed to remaining in Melbourne.[3]

On 8 December news of a new major sponsorship deal broke, suggesting Vodafone will put up to A$2 million into the club over the next 2 years for primary naming rights.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Interesting year ahead for AFL". WorldFootyNews.com. 1 January 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2007. 
  2. ^ Aylett quits as Roo boss
  3. ^ Chairman James Brayshaw names his North Melbourne board
  4. ^ "Roos reject AFL deal". kangaroos.com.au. 8 December 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2007.