Melbourne Cricket Club - From the Chief Executive
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From the Chief Executive

Stephen Gough The below article was published in the 2009/10 MCC Annual Report:

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The 2009/10 year was one of significance with regard to the club’s future, containing several initiatives and agreements that will extend our tenure at the MCG and help achieve our strategic aims.

On the field, we again delivered a consistent, high-quality program of events for our members, patrons and corporate clients, as well as further consolidating the National Sports Museum and MCG Tours as key tourist attractions.

AFL-Victorian Government Agreement
In September 2009 the MCC, together with the MCG Trust, reached agreement with the AFL and the Victorian Government on some important developments concerning the future of the MCG and the surrounding Yarra Park precinct. The main aspects were:

1. The licence agreement between the MCC and the AFL has been extended by five years, ensuring football (and the AFL Grand Final) is played at the MCG until at least 2037.

2. AFL clubs playing home games at the MCG will receive at least an additional $4.6 million a year – or $100,000 a game – for the next 10 years from MCG revenues. Furthermore, an incentive program based on attendances will see the clubs receive $1.50 per head for attendances between 2.1 million and 2.5 million, $2 per head for attendances between 2.5 million and three million patrons and $3 per head for attendances in excess of three million. 

3. The management of Yarra Park has been transferred to the MCG Trust, which in turn has delegated operational management to the MCC, with a key water and landscaping project to secure the future of the trees in the park and preserve existing car parking entitlements.

4. The Victorian Government will deliver a capped contribution of $30 million towards a refurbishment within the AFL Members Reserve in the Great Southern Stand and $6 million towards the project in Yarra Park.

This is a beneficial outcome for all parties as it reinforces the connection between the stadium, the code, the clubs and the MCC for an additional five years to 2037.

YARRA PARK
Yarra Park has a significant indigenous history and is also noted for both its landscape and sporting heritage, dating back to the 1850s.

In recent years, the grounds and trees in Yarra Park have deteriorated, largely due to Melbourne’s continued drought. Urgent attention, especially through the harvesting and application of non-potable Class A water, is required to restore the health of Yarra Park.

From March 15, 2010 management of the parkland has become the day-to-day responsibility of the MCC, following the delegation of this role by the MCG Trust.

As part of the agreement outlined above, the MCC has developed a Yarra Park Master Plan to greatly improve the parkland and protect it from the effects of the drought. 

We will invest $16m in Yarra Park to undertake the water recycling project and implement the master plan, providing 180 million litres of non-potable water on an annual basis.  This will provide adequate water for a revitalised Yarra Park as well as significantly reducing the MCG’s water usage.

The plan will see the re-establishment of avenues of trees and the introduction of tree protection measures, selected tree planting and additional mulching, new garden beds, lawn upgrades, playground improvements and new pedestrian paths.

This is a landmark project for the club as we work to achieve our vision of a sustainable, multi-use Yarra Park precinct.

GREAT SOUTHERN STAND REFURBISHMENT
The Victorian Government has committed $30 million for a refurbishment of the Great Southern Stand and a detailed scoping study by the MCC has commenced.

The scoping works will investigate how best to revitalise some of the entry points to the ground, including more streamlined ticketing areas as well as upgrades to food and beverage areas and basement floor food courts.

It will also look into replacement and upgrades to seating, public concourses, amenities and a refurbishment of function and dining rooms for greater patron comfort. These works could then be considered for staging in the future as part of a Great Southern Stand master plan.  Work is planned to commence during the latter part of the 2010/11 financial year.

OPERATING RESULTS
The club recorded a net loss for the financial year ending March 31, 2010 of $4.68 million.  This result is impacted significantly by payments made to AFL clubs playing home games at the MCG, as detailed earlier in this report. 

The club continues to meet its obligations with respect to the northern stand redevelopment debt.

AFL
The 2009 AFL season at the MCG was highly successful.  For the second consecutive year, the ground hosted seven finals (including the grand final), attracting 2,791,061 people through the turnstiles. 

This represents almost 40 per cent of the AFL’s season aggregate of 6,985,633, which again underlines the importance of the stadium to Australian football.

The grand final was an absorbing duel between the two best teams, St Kilda and Geelong.  The cold and wet conditions did not detract from the contest, as the Cats avenged their defeat by Hawthorn in 2008, edging out the Saints by 12 points before a crowd of 99,251. We congratulate Geelong Football Club on their triumph.

The MCG hosted 18 of the 19 best-attended home and away matches, which is well above the AFL’s minimum requirement to schedule 10 of the best 12 games at the MCG. The continued improved performance of the Victorian clubs contributed to this result.

Melbourne Football Club

The MCC, together with the AFL, continued its financial assistance for Melbourne Football Club in 2009-10 as the MFC officially returned as an MCC Sporting Section. This support for 2010 is set at $1.25m, while the AFL has also allocated $1m.

A viable MFC is important to the MCC/MCG and the competition as a whole. More than 20,000 MCC members are Melbourne supporters. The club was delighted that nearly 9000 of them elected to take up dual MFC/MCC membership in 2009.

CRICKET
The MCG hosted one Test, a Twenty20 international and two one-day internationals in the 2009/10 cricket season, attracting 257,322 patrons, down slightly on the previous summer.

Australia defeated Pakistan by 170 runs in an entertaining Boxing Day Test, which attracted 156,267 fans across the four-and-a-half days.  Rejuvenated Aussie batsman Shane Watson was named man of the match for his innings of 93 and 120 not out.

Pakistan entered the final day at 3/170 chasing 422 for victory, but Nathan Hauritz did the damage as an off-spinner should on a fifth-day pitch, taking five wickets as the visitors fell short.

While the two 50-over contests involving the West Indies on February 7 and 19 failed to attract large numbers, there is little doubt that the Twenty20 format has arrived as an entertainment package for cricket fans.

The Twenty20 international between Australia and Pakistan on February 5 saw 60,054 people watch Australia win a tight contest. Perhaps more significantly, the Victorian Bushrangers’ matches in the Twenty20 Big Bash competition in early-January produced some phenomenal attendances.

On January 15 the Bushrangers hosted the Tasmanian Tigers at the MCG and attracted an Australian domestic attendance record of 43,125 – another record for the MCG.  The huge crowd followed a very healthy 28,052 who attended the Bushrangers’ first match on January 2.

The Bushrangers enjoyed another stellar season, winning Victoria’s 28th Sheffield Shield (and back-to-back titles) and the Big Bash trophy, as well as reaching the Ford Ranger Cup Final.

Our congratulations are extended to captain Cameron White, coach Greg Shipperd and the team on their continued dominance at domestic level.

OTHER EVENTS

The MCG hosted two international football matches involving the Socceroos in the past 12 months, against Japan (June 17, 2009) and New Zealand (May 24, 2010). 

The events attracted 74,100 and 55,659 respectively, with the latter a chance for Australians to farewell the Socceroos before their FIFA World Cup campaign in South Africa.

Following the agreement between the AFL and Football Federation Australia, the club was able to confirm the availability of the MCG should Australia host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The AFL released the MCC from its contractual obligations to host AFL home and away matches during a 10-week period in 2022. Once the outcome of Australia's bid is known, likely to be at the end of this year, we will keep members informed of any developments.

NATIONAL SPORTS MUSEUM AND MCG TOURS

The National Sports Museum completed its second year of operation in strong shape despite challenging global economic conditions that affected many tourist attractions in Australia during 2009 and a series of large-scale competing exhibitions in the marketplace.

More than 147,000 visitors undertook an MCG Tour or visited the National Sports Museum (incorporating the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum) in 2009/10.  Pleasingly, more than 40,000 of these visitors were school groups, increasing the prospect of return visits by these children with their families in future.

A significant development during the year was the launch of the National Sports Museum Creative Arts Fellowship to further foster a connection between art and sport in the community. Prominent businessman and philanthropist, Basil Sellers AM, donated the $50,000 prize and Stewart Russell and Kate Daw were selected as the first recipients of the fellowship.  Basil’s interest in art and sport is well known and we thank him for his ongoing support.

A number of temporary exhibitions were hosted in our exhibitions gallery, including League of Legends – 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia, The Long Ride – 100 Years of Australian Surfing, Driving Force: The Australian Grand Prix Program Collection and a series of commemorative grand final posters by renowned cartoonist, William Ellis Green (“WEG”).

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games – Australian Olympians Display brought together a series of objects of significance to Australian Olympians during their time in Beijing. 

Volunteers play an important part in the tourism product on offer at the MCG.  To that end, we were delighted that our MCG guides and NSM volunteers were recognised with a Melbourne Award for their “Contribution to the Profile of Melbourne” in September 2009.

Our volunteers were lauded for the quality of the MCG visitor experience and the important role they play in welcoming visitors to Melbourne.  We thank them for their tireless work and support.

In addition to our foundation sponsors Coca-Cola, Grocon and Spotless, we welcome new sponsor United Group Limited, which pioneered the idea of sponsoring a visit to the NSM for one Year 9 class from every Victorian state school. We have also been well supported by our partnership media such as the Herald & Weekly Times, Ticketek and the Australian Football League and their broadcast partners.

Finally, we are very pleased to be welcoming the Champions-Thoroughbred Racing Gallery to the NSM. The agreement with the Australian Racing Museum will see this gallery open in October 2010.

MCC MEMBERSHIP

Membership intake
The election of Full members in July 2009 comprised candidates on the waiting list nominated from May 1, 1988 to September 30, 1988.

Waiting list candidates nominated from November 1, 1994 to January 31, 1995 inclusive were offered Restricted or Restricted Junior membership, while those nominated prior to November 1, 1994 and who turned 15 years of age prior to September 1, 2009 were offered Restricted Junior membership. 

Members by category at August 31, 2009
Full                                     60,286
Restricted                            39,994
Total                                   100,280

Waiting List                        194,097

Functions
The club again held a wide range of functions for members and guests. These include luncheons for our volunteers and 50-year members, induction functions for new members, a football season launch, Members’ Dinner and a Brownlow Medal night with the Coodabeen Champions.

Champion New Zealand all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee was a wonderful guest speaker at The Bradman Luncheon, which celebrates the life of Australia’s greatest cricketer.  Hadlee touched on his experiences with the infamous MCG Bay 13 crowd, personal encounters with Bradman and his fears for the future of Test cricket.

In addition to the annual functions offering, several additional initiatives were developed during the year.  In October, the club recognised the 25th anniversary of the first intake of female members with a cocktail party in the Members Dining Room.  More than 350 lady members celebrated a quarter of a century of involvement with our famous institution.

The National Sports Museum opened its doors for a series of five cocktail parties designed to showcase the museum to members. The response to these functions was highly encouraging.

Finally, members were treated to hospitality in an exclusive MCC marquee over the four days of the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath in November, where Tiger Woods won his first Masters before record crowds.

MCC Cricket
The 2009/10 Premier Cricket season was one of immense satisfaction for the club, as our First XI broke a premiership drought stretching back to 1997/98 with a hard-fought win over St Kilda in the final.   Captain-coach Adam Dale and his team are to be commended on their efforts.

The captain was outstanding in the final, capturing 6/44 from 38 overs to complete a fabulous season in charge.  Batsman Robert Cooper was awarded the John Scholes Medal for best player in the final, following his 105 in a team total of 230.  To cap off a great season for the club, the Third XI also won the premiership. 

Fast bowler Robert Cassell capped an inspirational comeback from injury by winning the Club Champion Trophy, following an outstanding season that netted 47 wickets at 14.31 and a two-year contract with South Australia. We wish him well.

The club continues to develop and produce first-class cricketers. In addition to the consistent performances of Brad Hodge and Andrew McDonald on the domestic scene, it was encouraging to see batsman Michael Hill make his Victorian debut and talented teenager Alex Keath receive a Bushrangers contract for the next three years.

Our Winter Olympians
The MCC had two of its members competing in both the Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in Vancouver earlier this year. Katya Crema and Dave Morris represented Australia in the Winter Olympics (February 13-26) while Mitchell Gourley and James Millar featured in the Paralympic Winter Games in March. The club congratulates these athletes on their achievements.

Sporting Sections/Special Interest Groups
The club’s 11 Sporting Sections - baseball, bowls, croquet, football, golf, hockey, lacrosse, real tennis, target shooting, squash and tennis – produced another commendable year of performances.    The club’s website examines these in greater detail than can be recorded here.

The most notable achievement perhaps was that of Real Tennis Section member Rob Fahey, who recently won an amazing 10th world title.

Fahey has been the world champion since 1994, which places him as one of Australia’s most successful sportsmen.  He has won 11 Australian Opens, 10 French Opens, eight US Opens and eight British Opens, including three grand slams (2000, 2001 and 2008) and three world doubles titles.

The club’s special interest groups – Bridge Club, Long Room Wine and Food Society, War Veterans Group, Women of MCC, XXIX Club and Young Members Club – continue to grow and prosper. We encourage members to become involved with the various activities undertaken by these groups. 

PARTNERS/SUPPLIERS
The club welcomed a fourth Icon partner during the year when Foster’s Group joined Coca-Cola Amatil, Herald & Weekly Times and National Australia Bank as the ground’s key commercial partners.  We are very grateful for their support.

We also maintained strong commercial relationships with a number of licensees, partners and suppliers, among them Stadia Media, The Promotions Factory, Patties Foods, Cadbury, Tabcorp Holdings, Nestlé Peters Ice Cream, Internode, Sharp, Simplot Australia, Mars Food Australia (Masterfoods), The Smith’s Snackfood Company and Don KRC. We also welcomed Tetley, Douwe Egberts and Closed Loop as new preferred suppliers during the course of the year.

COMMUNITY ACTIVITY
In addition to our high-profile role as a venue manager and tourist destination, less widely known is the MCC’s active role in community events.

Examples of this include the facilitation of the Melbourne Marathon, allowing participants the chance to grace the hallowed MCG turf as they crossed the finish line, holding the annual Rite of Passage day for families and sponsoring grass-root AFL Victoria programs to deliver statewide competitions, coaches’ education clinics and the promotion of girls’ football.

This year, our involvement extended to supporting the Field of Women LIVE event at the MCG to raise breast cancer awareness, the RSL’s Raise a Glass Appeal and the annual Dreamtime at the ‘G match, which recognises the significant role the indigenous community has played in shaping Australian football.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I am pleased to acknowledge the support and guidance provided by MCC president David Meiklejohn and his committee throughout another busy and challenging year. The countless hours of voluntary service given by our committee members is greatly appreciated.  The same can also be said of the MCG Trustees, led by chairman John Wylie.

I also wish to acknowledge the club’s management team, staff and volunteers for their outstanding contribution during the year, as well as the support provided by our key stakeholders - the AFL, Cricket Australia, Cricket Victoria and the State Government of Victoria.

Finally, to the members, I thank you for your contribution to the club and trust that you continue to enjoy the many benefits of MCC membership.

Stephen Gough
Chief Executive Officer

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