01/12/2020 - 11:00

New chief for WA Football Commission

01/12/2020 - 11:00

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Tennis West chief executive Michael Roberts has been appointed to lead the WA Football Commission.

New chief for WA Football Commission
New WAFC head Michael Roberts has been CEO of Tennis West since 2016.

Tennis West chief executive Michael Roberts has been appointed to lead the WA Football Commission.

Outgoing CEO Gavin Taylor resigned after four years in the role in August and has since been appointed managing director of Ticketmaster, replacing new chair Maria O'Connor in the role.

Mr Taylor's leadership came under scrutiny in recent months after details of WAFC salaries were leaked to the media, sparking a parliamentary inquiry into the way the organisation spent its money.

That inquiry highlighted transparency issues in reporting by the WAFC, with particular regard to a funding arrangement between the commission, the state government and the AFL.

Mr Roberts has been CEO of Tennis West since 2016 and previously held senior roles with Tennis Australia in both Western Australia and Tasmania, with Cricket Tasmania and with Richmond Football Club. He will start in his new role on January 11.

In a media statement, WAFC chairman Wayne Martin said Mr Roberts' experience at Tennis West would prove highly beneficial to WA football, especially in the wake of the parliamentary inquiry findings.

“Michael will bring a fresh perspective and we expect he will transfer learnings and best practice from other sports over to WA football. His governance and financial management skills are highly relevant for the commission," Mr Martin said.

“We felt it was important to appoint a CEO that wasn’t necessarily aligned to any particular element of WA football and could bring an independent view. Michael has an excellent track record of sports stakeholder engagement including with government, sporting clubs, staff, participants and the fans.”

Mr Roberts said he was looking forward to getting started in the new role.

“Football is such an important part of WA’s social fabric and I’m genuinely excited at the prospect of playing a leadership role in the management of the game. It’s a responsibility that’s certainly not lost on me, particularly in the wake of COVID and the recent [parliamenary] inquiry," he said.

“It is ideal to commence a role like this outside of the playing season as it will give me an excellent opportunity to engage with as many members of the footy family as possible prior to the 2021 season getting under way. I plan to hit the ground running."

The WAFC said in its statement that Mr Roberts had achieved four years of budget surpluses while at Tennis West and had implemented a governance overhaul. The Hopman Cup had achieved record attendances and been awarded WA's best sporting event in 2018. While executive director of Tennis Tasmania between 2003 and 2011, Mr Roberts was named as Tasmania's sports administrator of the year.

He also had held roles as general manager of marketing and commercial for the Hobart Hurricanes (2011-2016), general manager of Coburg Football Club (2001-2003), and football technology coordinator at Richmond Football Club (1999-2001).

Meanwhile, the WAFC is in the midst of an election, with four positions available for commissioners. Former WAFC chairman Neale Fong and broadcaster Gareth Parker have withdrawn from the process, leaving nine candidates to compete for the available positions.

There were originally 23 nominations for the vacancies, but the list was culled to 11 by the WAFC. The nine remaining candidates are: current commissioners Grant Dorrington and Brian O'Donnell, marketing company boss Dixie Marshall, Noongar businessman Gordon Cole, former WAFL players Phil Lamb and Allan Stiles, WA Women's Football League president Carolyn Hills, Curtin University chief operating officer Ian Callahan, and public relations advisor Nicole Moody.

The voting is due to be held on December 3.

 

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