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The case for Eastern Suburbs

E-Subs captain Thomas Shaw giving the cup a pash

By Chris Ruffell

During 2015 NZF undertook club input throughout the country around the preferred structure of the current National League. One common theme throughout was a desire to have promotion / relegation at the core of any changes. Based on 2015 results Eastern Suburbs AFC, Napier City Rovers and Cashmere Tech would have entered a playoff to replace Southern United. In the application process currently underway, only Eastern Suburbs AFC from that group has expressed an interest in joining the league.

Whilst performance on the field in most leagues in the world is the single determining factor in promotion / relegation, history has taught us here in NZ that financial sustainability and participation are not always linked. Sensibly, for that reason NZF are looking at a much wider range of criteria including facilities, player pathways, crowd generation and financial feasibility.

Currently ESAFC have enough money in the bank to play in the league for three years without requiring $1 of income. Spending that money however is not part of the plan. We currently have an annual turnover of $1.2M and employ 10 people full time in administrative and coaching capacities, including a UEFA pro licence DOF. Aside from providing coaching to our 2300 registered players, we also run programs in 5 local Secondary Schools.

Eastern Suburbs will base our home games at Ngahue Reserve which is currently under construction. The two fully floodlit international sized artificial turfs and complimentary changing rooms are part of the stage one development which has been completed. The stage 2 development which is scheduled to be completed in Nov 2016 includes; Oceania Football Confederation offices, a full sized international Futsal Court, changing facilities for 4 teams, physio rooms, clubrooms with bar, media facilities, gymnasium, creche’, floodlights to TV requirements, two separate warm up areas and car parking for 300 cars. The stage 3 development involves a 260 bed accommodation facility on site.

It has taken a phenomenal amount of work over the past 6 years to get the club into this position. We are certainly hopeful NZF see our current status as suitable to compete at the next level as we potentially transition back to a club based National League.

[This is the first in a series of guest posts from bidding entities stating why they would make great ASB Premiership clubs. If you are bidding for a spot and would like to participate in this feature, e-mail me via casagiordani at orcon dot net dot nz – I have already been in touch with some but don’t have contact details for everyone. I’m not leaving you out on purpose! 🙂 ]

Categories: NZ Men's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

9 replies

  1. Hi Chris (and Enzo).

    Thanks for outlining the Eastern Suburbs case. (I was actually surprised that with such a strong administrative wing and large base that you hadn’t already made a public statement about your bid on the Suburbs’ club website.)

    From a “production of the game” perspective your points are compelling, with on-field performance, administrative strength and finance covered off, and a decent venue (traditionally Suburbs’ Achilles heel) seemingly well underway. The East Auckland experiment of a generation ago will also sit you in good stead.

    But let’s play devil’s advocate anyway…

    From a “consumption of the game” perspective your presence would appear to bring comparatively less to the table, with players and fans in Auckland already well served (it’s not like many games are sold out) compared with other parts of the country.

    To borrow a football watch-word of the moment, could you comment on how your inclusion would assist the overall ‘metrics’ of the national league?

    As an “expansion” club how would your inclusion assist the growth and footprint of the national league?

    How many new fans would you bring to the league who do not already follow it (or have a geographic opportunity to do so)?

    How many players would you be providing with a “national league opportunity” and pathway who would not otherwise have it?

    Taking a dispassionate macro view of the national league, I suspect that your inclusion would make the most sense if an existing Auckland-based entity was to withdraw.

    I acknowledge that is beyond your remit, and under the terms of the competition review is not going to happen, but would nevertheless welcome any broader comment it may trigger. 🙂

  2. Hi CB,

    We have deliberately kept a low profile with respect to the bid until our submission was made to NZF on Saturday. The need is to gain NZF’s attention, and not public attention. Many people within the club are aware of what is going on as well displayed all the application documentation at the recent AGM.

    There is a good argument for three Ak teams in an eight team league, let alone a 10 team league. The competition in its current state has never had a winner from outside of Auckland. This year is somewhat of an anomaly with respect to Waitakere starting so poorly, but a number of Franchise teams out of Auckland have a number of Auckland players featuring. I

    With respect to bringing more fans to the games, at least we have 2300 members that have a connection to a club. With our ground at Ngahue we are able to schedule large numbers of kids games to start and finish before, during and after National League games as there is another ground alongside. We hope to encourage them to stay (or come early) and watch the elite players for whatever their attention span is, and create activities for the whole family to stay. We outlined the crowd generation strategy to NZF and the feedback was positive.

    NZF have a clear plan which supports strong financially viable clubs having the opportunity to play at the highest level. At the end of the day performance on the field is paramount. Our role is to do the absolute best for our club members, and giving our kids the opportunity to stay at our club on their way through NYL and onto National League is what we are trying to achieve. Off the field our volunteer administrators are motivated just like players to be the best they can be. They get just as much enjoyment from the club being successful and performing at the highest level they can.

    Lastly with respect to the overall “metrics” of the league? I have no idea what that means sorry.


  3. I just want to say thank you so much to Chris, and the other clubs who have so far agreed to participate in this. I know it’s not an easy call, especially going first!! While it’s NZF you need to convince, and not the football public, I strongly believe that the more transparent this is the better. The more information us plebs have the more likely we are to understand and go along with whatever decision NZF ultimately makes. So it is really useful to get our heads around what makes this bid, and others, tick.

  4. A good article and well done the ES for putting such work into their club, not many would be able to do so.. I would like a bit of clarification about who actually own the Ngahue Reserve Grounds, is it ES or Oceania or a joint venture as I thought the newly formed Orakei Utd used them or has that changed?

    1. The Ngahue ground development has been undertaken by Oceania Football Confederation, with the land supplied by the Auckland Council for a peppercorn rental. In return 70% of usage is provided for “local community use” which is distributed by the Local Orakei Board. They have seen fit to allow ESAFC, Ellerslie FC and AFF 16 hours each per week (shared over the two fields). Orakei FC was set up by OFC and is not considered a community user by the Orakei Board so doesn’t get access to the community allocation. Outside of the 70%, OFC can do what they like with the ground with respect to using themselves or renting out to other users.

  5. Hi Chris,
    Congrats on getting a spot – I’m looking forward to seeing National League played in our neck of the woods.

    One question I have been asked by my members and other interested people is what are your plans for NRFL – will you retain a team in the Premier League as effectively your reserves and to play in the Chatham Cup, or are you not allowed to do this?

    Would be interested to hear what your thoughts on that are.

    Cheers and congrats again!

  6. Very surprised that suburbs got in, I would have picked either Shore or Auckland United, they show more long term potential – couple of concerns:
    – the best players at Suburbs are not exactly setting the world alight at a struggling Waitakere, further diluting talent pool in Auckland unless more cash on better quality imports
    – big playing numbers doesn’t mean big support – at the Chatham Cup final wouldn’t have been more than 100- 200 suburbs fans there. How many do you expect to pull in at a windswept hill that.

    Good luck, you’ll need it

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