WAFL: West Perth financial investigation highlights history of mismanagement

West Perth Football Club.
West Perth Football Club.

AN administrator’s investigation into the West Perth Football Club has outlined how “systemic” financial mismanagement has put the WAFL club’s survival in doubt.

West Perth went into administration under the control of restructuring firm KordaMentha with about $800,000 debt last month.

KordaMentha’s investigation revealed a history of “shortcomings”, including one occasion when the club thought it had more than $100,000 of sponsorship money that didn’t exist.

The misreporting became apparent last year when $110,000 of sponsorship invoices were created in the club’s accounting system but were not supported by current sponsorship arrangements.

“This has been attributed to personnel issues and inadequate internal supervision,” the KordaMentha report said. “As a consequence, WPFC’s debtors are overstated by $0.11 million in 2017 accounts.”

The administrator’s report also mentioned that the WA Football Commission (WAFC) had identified poor bookkeeping at the club in 2016 after an audit of the Falcons’ Total Player Payments.

The club was aware of the WAFC’s concerns but the audit was never considered at a board meeting until about two years later when new chief executive Linda Hamersely requested a copy after learning of its existence.

KordaMentha criticised the club for not giving immediate attention to the audit.

“Steps could have otherwise been taken sooner to address various shortcomings inside the association (West Perth),” it said.

As part of the administration process, the club’s directors were required to complete a questionnaire identifying the key reasons for West Perth’s failure.

The KordaMentha report summarised the directors’ responses in three points:

  • Inadequate governance around financial management and financial reporting.
  • Lack of fundraising pursuits through sponsorships, memberships and functions.
  • Cultural behaviours.

The administrator found “these characteristics are not recent” and appeared to date back to at least 2016 when a board “substantially different from the current one” was in place.

A decision on West Perth’s future will be made next week.