When the Fremantle Dockers players run onto the MCG on Saturday, they will be implementing coach Ross Lyon's game plan, but behind the scenes, chief executive Steve Rosich has been busy implementing his operational plan.
When the Fremantle Dockers players run onto the MCG on Saturday, they will be implementing coach Ross Lyons’ game plan, but behind the scenes, chief executive Steve Rosich has been busy implementing his operational plan.
Mr Rosich told Business News the club’s success in recent years meant it was well prepared for the pressures of grand final week.
“In terms of planning for that possibility, it’s something we’ve done regularly for a number of seasons,” he said.
“The first time we put together a detailed finals operational plan was in 2006 and we have essentially been updating that each season.
“We are one of only 6 teams that has played 3 AFL finals series in the last 4 years, so we are getting not just more rehearsed at playing finals football but well-rehearsed at planning for finals football.”
Mr Rosich, a former Deloitte accountant who joined the Dockers in 2004, estimates the club has been at least 50 per cent busier this week compared to normal, as it manages the demands of sponsors, fans and the media.
“It’s anything but normal, and that’s great,” he said.
“The staff are embracing it, they are working incredibly hard, getting in early and finishing late, but doing it with a smile on their face. “
Mr Rosich said the football operations team has maintained its standard schedule, including its normal 3pm departure yesterday (Thursday) for Melbourne.
“Every meeting, every planning session is exactly the same as they would have done for each and every game through the season.”
The one change was the use of a charter flight, to accommodate a travelling party of 140 players and staff.
“All staff have the opportunity to get to the game if they wish. We will have only a skeleton number of people remaining in Perth and the rest will be descending on the MCG.”
Mr Rosich said one of the main challenges for his staff was to ensure the football operations department, and the players in particular, were not distracted too much by external influences.
“We’ve put a lot of systems and procedures in place to ensure they are protected to a degree from the distractions that might occur.”
Another major challenge has been maximising the number of fans able to get to the game at the MCG.
That includes managing expectations, since Fremantle, and opposition team Hawthorn, were allocated only 14,000 tickets each.
The club has also been kept very busy accommodating fans wanting to make last minute purchases of Dockers merchandise, with queues spilling out of the club shop this week.
Mr Rosich expects the big crowds, television audiences and media interest will flow through to its sponsorship support.
“We anticipate two things. The corporates that have aligned with us for some time will get great benefit out of this year’s finals series, and in particular grand final week.
“We also hope and envisage that other corporates will take the opportunity to get on board for next season.”
The one “key property” that is still available is sponsorship of the players’ shorts.
The financial impact of the club’s on-field success remains unclear.
“It will vary significantly depending on the result from Saturday.
“The reality is the extra cost and logistics that are required for participating in the finals series, you don’t actually see much uplift unless you are lucky enough and good enough to be number one after the game on Saturday.”
He believes the club is performing well off the playing field.
“We have been, for some time, ranked somewhere between two and six in all off-field metrics.”
Its membership of about 44,000 ranks it number eight in the AFL but Mr Rosich said it ranks much better in terms of member revenue.
“That will place us somewhere between second and third in actual membership revenue, so we’re commercialising our stadium relatively effectively.”
The difference arises because, in contrast to Melbourne clubs, nearly all of its members have reserved seating at Patersons Stadium.