Whitford City Football Club ousted for Joondalup United in Craigie

Whitford City Football Club ousted for Joondalup United in Craigie

JOONDALUP United Football Club will call Warrandyte Park in Craigie home from next season.

The City of Joondalup had first proposed upgrades at Forrest Park in Padbury to allow for a second soccer field and enable expansion of the predominantly senior club, which currently spreads itself across Forrest Park, Beldon Park and Charonia Reserve in Mullaloo.

Local residents and other users of Forrest Park opposed this proposal, with the City receiving a 334-signature petition against it.

At last month’s meeting, councillors were to consider applying for the Department of Sport and Recreation’s 2017-18 Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund (CSRFF) for sports floodlighting upgrades at Warrandyte Park in Craigie – the home of Whitford City Football Club – and the Forrest Park upgrades.

Instead, the council voted to defer its decision until this month’s meeting to enable negotiations on a possible merger of Joondalup United and Whitford City to allow the new club to operate from Warrandyte Park.

However, Whitford City – a predominantly junior club of 41 years – voted to remain an independent club.

In the meantime, Joondalup United won the state league division one championship and has the opportunity to join the National Premier League (NPL) – WA’s highest level of soccer.

To allow this transition, Joondalup United president John Stone said the club must meet Football West standards including “a fully fenced-off pitch surrounding the whole perimeter, seating for up to 200 people, dugouts and a referees room.

“A move to Warrandyte would give us the potential to meet the criteria required at the NPL level,” he said.

“It has the correct facilities and with some improvements, can be a vibrant venue for us in the future.”

Last Tuesday, councillors revisited the City’s CSRFF application and were recommended to discontinue the Forrest Park upgrades, still apply for $176,194 for sports floodlighting upgrades at Warrandyte Park and to request a further report on relocating Joondalup United.

But Mayor Troy Pickard moved an alternative motion to allocate Warrandyte Park and Prince Regent Park in Heathridge to Joondalup United from next season, relocating Whitford City to Beldon Park, Charonia Park and Korella Park in Mullaloo.

He said while he respected Whitford City’s decision to “remain a community-based club”, the City now had the challenge of finding Joondalup United a clubroom suitable for an NPL club.

“I don’t think it’s feasible for us to allocate $3 million to build a new facility for the club; it’s not in our budget nor do I know the site where we could place such an asset,” he said.

“We need to be smart abut how we utilise our facilities.”

“It’s a significant clubroom with bar, kitchen and kiosk facilities… but what happens with the community clubs, and I’ve seen it firsthand, the teams go to the ground, it’s a great atmosphere and supportive of the boys and girls and the parents get together and socialise and they leave.

“People don’t go back to the clubroom and engage in club activities and that’s definitely not happening at Warrandyte, whereas Joondalup United need to utilise such a facility to help them manage their continued growth and success.

“I’m not suggesting Whitford City has not been successful but we now have a club that’s clearly in a different league and we do need to accommodate that.”

He said Beldon and Charonia parks were in better condition than Warrandyte and while there were no clubrooms, there were toilets, changerooms, kiosks and “some floodlighting” available.

He said Korella Park had a significant grassed area that would give the club flexibility to grow.

Part of Mr Pickard’s alternative motion recommended listing floodlighting at Beldon Park to be listed for consideration in 2019-20 in lieu of floodlighting at Forrest Park that will no longer go ahead.

It also allocated a preliminary budget of $629,000 in 2017-18 to upgrade Warrandyte Park’s clubrooms including two additional changerooms and storage, subject to Joondalup United contributing $140,000.

This would be made up from the $225,000 already listed for Warrandyte Park in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and the $264,000 proposed for the Forrest Park upgrades.

“This is not about cutting and running from Whitford City and we’re still conscious of ensuring they can access some quality grounds,” Mr Pickard said.

“This is a very tough decision to make.

“In 10 years as mayor of the City of Joondalup, I’ve never suggested that we should relocate clubs in the City without their complete endorsement.

“That hasn’t happened and I apologise to Whitford City if you feel aggrieved by this decision but I honestly believe this is in the best interest of the City of Joondalup and our ratepayers, the sporting fraternity and the appropriate and sustainable use of our limited fiscal resources and our limited asset resources.”

Mr Pickard’s motion was passed unanimously, with strong support from Cr Nige Jones.

“Only last week, the winners of the NPL this year – Perth – staged a game at Dorian Gardens with Devonport from Tasmania so that put them in the national arena and that’s where Joondalup United could be this time next year if we support them,” he said.

“No disrespect to Whitford City, their 350 junior members are very strong however, they have no senior team to aspire to.

“Good junior players wish to play in the NPL.

Joondalup United are in a position where they can filter their own junior players through to an NPL senior team for their development.

“Joondalup United are very progressive club and in a short time, they’ve achieved a lot more than a lot of the established clubs such as Whitford City have done over a long time and I strongly support we back them as best we can so they can concentrate on maintaining their success.”

Whitford City Football Club unhappy with Joondalup council decision

AFTER 41 years, Whitford City Football Club will no longer operate from Warrandyte Park in Craigie and the club is not happy.

At last Tuesday’s Joondalup council meeting, councillors unanimously voted to allocate Warrandyte Park to Joondalup United Football Club from next season, relocating Whitford City to Beldon Park, Charonia Park and Korella Park in Mullaloo.

Whitford City treasurer Andrew Ward said the club was “blindsided by the unexpected decision”.

He said he believed Joondalup United was aware of the proposal, with many members of the club attending the meeting and giving two statements in support of the alternative motion before the item was presented.

“Whitford City was not advised this proposal was on the agenda and so was not able to present a dissenting view,” he said.

“There is obviously an emotional response from our members to being moved from our long-standing home, amplified by the feeling this has been done in a less than open and honest manner.”

The City told the Times Whitford City and Joondalup United were advised via email before the council meeting that the report would be on the agenda.

“There is also much disappointment that the City seems to have prioritised Joondalup United ahead of Whitford City despite the two clubs having similar player numbers; the more elite senior club is apparently a better fit for Warrandyte than the more grassroots junior club,” Mr Ward said.

“It is my view the City should value community-focused clubs like ours very highly because we are making a difference in the community, providing our local kids with very affordable access to organised sport in a safe, friendly, inclusive environment.

“We welcome boys and girls into our club regardless of their abilities, focused more on giving kids opportunities than assembling winning teams.”

Mr Ward said the club also had practical concerns about being moved to three different locations including extra volunteers to run home games concurrently at three venues, storage of game-day equipment and having to move it between venues, reduced flexibility of scheduling fixtures, loss of canteen revenue and possible sponsorship and families having children playing at different venues.

At the meeting, Mayor Troy Pickard said it was the standard in the City of Joondalup for clubs to operate at more than one venue.

“I think there are two, maybe three that play and train at the same site so it is not unusual to be dislocated as a club,” he said.

Mr Pickard has also said if Whitford City “feels their needs are best served operating out of another venue within the City, and it is available for use, we would be more than willing to work collaboratively with the club to explore alternative arrangements”.

Whitford City has organised a meeting for 11am tomorrow for members, families and residents.

“We are engaging local councillors to seek a reconsideration of the decision and will be submitting a petition in support of that,” Mr Ward said.

Craigie residents object to home ground decision

CRAIGIE residents are concerned about Warrandyte Park being used as the home ground for a National Premier League team.

At last Tuesday’s Joondalup council meeting, councillors unanimously voted to allocate Warrandyte Park to Joondalup United Football Club from next season, relocating Whitford City Football Club.

As a NPL club, Joondalup United must meet Football West standards including a fenced-off pitch, seating for up to 200 people, dugouts and a referees room.

Mayor Troy Pickard said the City had identified Warrandyte Park as the most suitable location because of the “extensive playing fields that could accommodate up to three pitches, large clubroom facility, sufficient parking and proposed lighting upgrades”.

“The City will now work with Joondalup United and Football West to ensure Warrandyte Park refurbishments meet the requirements to host NPL football and reflecting the fact that it is in a residential area,” he said.

However, residents and dog walkers are concerned about how this will affect their amenity and access to the park.

“It is anticipated there will be minimal increase in Warrandyte Park’s usage for organised sport,” Mr Pickard said.

“ It is currently booked by Whitford City every night of the week for training as well as Saturday mornings and much of Sundays.

“Joondalup United will also train weeknights and hold games Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

“Outside of Joondalup United’s organised bookings, Warrandyte Park will remain accessible to the general public, including dog walkers, as is currently the case.”

Residents have also expressed disappointment in the lack of community consultation.

“The City has detailed community consultation protocols when it relates to construction of new facilities or installing floodlights, however it does not consult with the community when allocating clubs to facilities,” Mr Pickard said.

However, he said some future refurbishment works proposed for the Warrandyte Park facility could trigger community consultation.

Other Warrandyte Park user groups such as the playgroup and girl guides are not expected to be affected.

The Save Warrandyte Park Facebook group was created yesterday and already has 400 members.