By Nick Creely
The Frankston Football Club will return to the Peter Jackson VFL in season 2018 after having its licence application granted by AFL Victoria.
The club presented a strong case for a return to the competition to AFL Victoria Board and Executive representatives on 24 July, with a focus not only on re-establishing the Dolphins’ important role in the talent pathway in the south-east region, but also a long-term management and financial strategy for the club.
Since late last year the new Frankston FC Board has worked at strengthening relationships with all key stakeholders in the region – including local clubs, leagues, Dandenong Southern Stingrays, council, government and AFL South East – while significantly improving its governance and developing a sustainable business model.
AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper said Frankston FC has an important role to play in the region, with time away from the competition enabling the club to prioritise and focus on its off-field structures.
“AFL Victoria was always committed to continuing to work with key stakeholders in the region – including Frankston FC – to ensure there would be a state-league presence there into the future,” Reaper said.
“The Frankston FC and all involved have shown their commitment to regain their licence in the VFL, establishing a strong strategic plan focused on governance, community engagement, sponsorship and membership that will assist the club and the region into the future.”
The club was not granted a licence for the 2017 season after being in the hands of administrators in September 2016, with significant debts in excess of $1 million.
“Frankston FC has worked closely with AFL Victoria and on local relationships that will see the club become a central part of the talent pathway in the region once again, with a strong commitment to playing a broader role in growing the game in the Frankston and Peninsula area,” Reaper said.
“The club now has over 1200 paid members and a timeline in place to remove its remaining debt over coming years, providing a more sustainable VFL presence moving forward and, like all VFL clubs, Frankston FC will need to continue to meet criteria for the continuation of a VFL licence into the future.
“With Frankston FC returning to the competition, another 40 players will experience training and working towards playing senior VFL football in a standalone club environment.
“By making this announcement now, the club can start to work on appointing a coach, building a playing list, locking away sponsors and taking the first steps in its new history.”
Frankston FC will join North Melbourne as the two new clubs in the competition for next season, while Werribee will continue as a stand-alone VFL side in 2018.
“The VFL competition will continue to have a place for all alignment models, from AFL to VFL standalone clubs as well as aligned AFL/VFL clubs,” Reaper said.
“This is what makes our competition unique with our clubs continuing to provide state-league football opportunities for players across Victoria.”
The Stingrays – who have been involved in a long and fruitful partnership with Frankston – are set to be the main TAC Cup club to benefit from the reinstatement of the Dolphins’ VFL licence.
Many players graduating from the Stingrays U18 program into Frankston have gone on to play AFL football with current stars Michael Hibberd (Melbourne), Nic Newman (Sydney) and Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs) all starting their careers at the Dolphins.
Stingrays coach Craig Black is thrilled to have Frankston back in the VFL competition.
“One thing it does do is give our TAC Cup kids an option.
“A lot of our boys go to Casey and now there’s another opportunity for the kids who live down south,” he said.
“It’s exciting for our area and for our young men to get an opportunity if they don’t great drafted to go back and ply their trade for a couple of years.
“It’s just a good result for everyone.”