Geelong members were able to pre-submit questions to be answered at Wednesday night’s annual general meeting.
Here are some of the more interesting questions and their responses.
Has the administration lost its mojo? Do we still have the determination to make the tough decisions and pursue greatness?
“Has the administration lost its mojo? Do we still have the determination to make the tough decisions that we should? I think that’s what people are after. I’m not sure what ‘has the administration lost its mojo?’ really means, to be honest.
*The question-asker interjects from the floor to clarify his point, asking if the club still had the determination to win a flag or whether the club was just happy competing and breaking even. What is the ambition? What are we here to achieve?*
“You’re referring to winning a premiership, right? Your question is: why don’t we win a premiership every year?
*Is the club really challenging itself to be the best it possibly can every day to win a premiership?*
“I think we’re a highly performing elite organisation in relation to our outcomes. There’s lots of them – I won’t go through them all – but we missed out on winning the premiership this year and had we won the prelim final I think we might have won the grand final, so it’s not easy winning a premiership. I can assure you, over 30 years’ experience I have. It’s bloody hard making the eight. You ask Gold Coast, Fremantle, Melbourne, Carlton. We’ve made the finals 14 of the last 16 years. If you’re saying, ‘Look, it’s not good enough to just make the finals; you’ve got to win it’, I’ll say, ‘You can’t do that every year, mate’. It’s hard enough making the eight, you then need to take an extra step to make the top four, then you make another elevated step to make the grand final, while there’s injuries and players are falling over and all sorts of things. And then if you make the grand final, you’ve got to bust your boiler to win it. That doesn’t happen every year. I wish it did. It just doesn’t happen. Are you saying are we satisfied with finishing fourth or fifth or third – we’re not. We want to win it. But if we don’t, we don’t cry. We gather ourselves, get the troops together, work out a strategy for the following year and put it into place. We do that every year. We always have a one-year plan and a five-year plan in terms of our list management, in terms of our membership strategy. In terms of list management, you could put all your eggs into the one-year basket and get rid of all of your draft choices, pick up senior players and you’re gone in three or four years’ time. We’re always trying to balance that, and by doing that, rebuilding our list, trying to win games and win premierships, it’s difficult. You don’t always get there. By doing both, I think you’ll finish in the finals most years. If you said, ‘Cooky, why don’t you just get rid of 12 players, go to the bottom, get another good 12 players, and build a premiership up like we did in 1999 and 2001’, I’d probably say, ‘I’m not so sure we should’. It’s not great for the club. It’s a big risk. It’s high risk. In particular, if we finished on the bottom two years in a row, we couldn’t survive financially. So there’s lots of issues at play. – CEO Brian Cook
Chris Scott has said he’s not in the business of explaining coaching decisions and has said that anyone who thinks he should is just wrong. Does the board fully endorse this no-transparency approach and, if so, why?
It’s a difficult question, and I’m not sure that what I say will satisfy everyone. First of all, we don’t have a policy. We do try to be as open and transparent as possible. And we always want to tell the truth. If we don’t want to say something, we’d rather not say it than tell porkies. Personally, and I’m giving a personal view, I don’t believe Chris has to explain everything in public, particularly in the moments after a heart-wrenching loss like we had in the finals when people were asking him those questions. And that’s not when you want to have people talking, because that’s when your judgement might be clouded. I guess much of this discussion stems from the decision to play Mark Blicavs in the ruck and on the wing in those finals. Obviously, it was controversial, but I noted that even the experts on television and radio were divided on whether it was good. It wasn’t all in one camp. We did thrash the Eagles, and we were within a goal of Richmond at three-quarter time in a prelim, so there were a bunch of things in terms of team selection that we got pretty right. I want to say that our board never questions football-specific decisions. We don’t have the expertise, and it would be a great danger for us to do so. But what we are really interested in is the process by which the decisions are made. The question I’m always burrowing around on is not who is the best footballer and who should be playing on the half-back line rather than the ruck, but rather whether decisions are well discussed by all of our coaches, and whether all of their views are being taken into account. We have a team of very good coaches.” – President Colin Carter
Inferences about fans having “success fatigue”.
I know our past success does make it a bit harder for our people to keep everybody happy. We saw a survey recently that said 98 per cent of our supporters believe that we are going to make the finals in 2020 and 72 per cent reckon we’re going to make top four. So in other words, our supporters are setting the bar very high, and we accept that, and in many respects, we love that. But that also makes it very hard for our football people to meet everyone’s expectations. We came in third this year and for some of us that was a great achievement and for others that was disappointing, and that will always be the case. – Carter
Criticisms of the coach and game plan
We don’t, to our knowledge, ever criticise our supporters for not understanding the game plan. On the other hand, we do hear from a number of supporters that our coaches don’t have a Plan B and when I tell Cooky that, he says that’s nonsense because Plan B, Plan C and Plan D are often used within the one game. And the bit about not loving the coach enough. Coaching is a pretty tough game, as you can imagine, and you could possibly be shocked if you saw some of the stuff on social media. It’s not just our coach – it’s players and coaches across the AFL. I actually received letters attacking our coach. I don’t mind questions if they’re expressed respectfully – because that’s how they should be expressed. I did go on radio a while back, which I think has caused a little bit of this commentary, and criticised some of our supporters for the way they were talking about some of our people on social media. I even got a letter a week after the finals from a member who used a stream of four-letter words to describe our coaching staff, and that’s the sort of stuff I was pushing back on. One of the reasons it is important to push back on this is because it’s become a huge issue for our industry. Hardly a week goes by now without some elite athlete in a various sport saying they need to step aside. We had three of our top cricket squad. Dayne Beams last week. We’ve obviously got people in our own club who are struggling with mental health issues. Max Gawn, the Melbourne champion, was quoted in the paper pleading with football supporters to understand, in his words, that not all players have thick skins. The attacks on social media do hurt. The industry knows we have a big problem. – Carter
How are we moving forward with the 11 home games and home finals situation at GMHBA Stadium?
The issue around how many home games here has been an issue for this club for a long time – certainly before I arrived (in 1999). We’ve been struggling to work out what our ideal number is, and whether we can get that ideal number of home games through the AFL. So, it’s been a challenge identifying our own position and getting solid support behind it from all of the directors and members. And it’s even more difficult to try and convince the AFL to play more games down here. In 2019, we asked for 11 games. At the turn of the century, we asked for seven games down here and four at Colonial (Marvel Stadium) because we felt that there was quite a deep purse there for us. In the end, we found out there wasn’t. We also found out it wasn’t attended as well as we thought it might be. The AFL find it difficult to find more than nine home games at GMHBA due to minimum game agreements they have with state governments who provide lots of money, with clubs who want to have games in Tasmania, and the stadium owners and managers. So the AFL have three lots of agreements. And when you put them all together, we think there are only three games out of 198 that are available right now. So if there’s only three games available and we want to go from nine to 11, we take up two of those three. And the AFL may wish to keep games for India, for China, for a few others things. So, we have that to beat as well. This is not a simple issue at all. It’s not as if we say, we want 11 games and we get it – we don’t.
In relation to our finals position, our starting position is if we have earned a home final, then we should play at our home ground in Geelong. That’s where we start from. The AFL believes in the “best fit” crowd policy. If Geelong play Collingwood in a final, and we had an expected attendance of 80,000 people, where is the best fit? The MCG, so that’s where it’s played. If Geelong plays West Coast Eagles in a final, where should that be played? The expected attendance would be what? 55,000? Where should that be played? The MCG. Possibly Marvel. If Geelong plays GWS or Fremantle Dockers, what’s expected the crowd? 40,000? That’s when I believe the AFL might give us a go. Best fit policy. Last year we offered the AFL a compromise about three-quarters of the way through the season and requested that if we played any interstate side – and we had earned the home final right – that game should be played at GMHBA Stadium. We thought that would be a compromise, and they refused to accept this recommendation and stuck to their “best fit” policy. I’m not so sure if the “best fit” policy is a national one – if the “best fit” policy is the same in NSW when GWS play, or in Brisbane. So we’ve got a fair amount of work to go in that area. – Cook
Is the club considering offering concession prices to events?
We do always try to consider concession prices for all events. The Season Launch in 2020 will be the first time we offer a concession price, which is a really great start. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get the best-and-fairest (Carji Greeves Medal) a concession price just yet. It’s just a really expensive event to run, so we’re still walking towards that. But having a concession price at the season launch is a very good start. And, remember, all events have a members’ price as well. – Chief Operating Officer Braith Cox
Will the club reintroduce permanent reserved seats in the Social Club to recognise the loyalty of our “rusted-on” members and reduce the highly unsafe scramble at gate opening time?
The difficult part of the Social Club is that everyone wants to experience football differently – different times you arrive, different food offerings, different seats or the same seat. With the Social Club, it is a non-reserved product. There is an ability to have a reserved seat outside of the Social Club. And one of the difficulties with the Social Club is that we have 67 per cent show rate. So, if we had a reserved seat option in there, then that’s going to impact on the show rate. – Cox