WAFL: West Perth financial crisis claims first scalp in director Russell Ellen

stock image.
stock image.

BREAKING

The financial crisis enveloping WAFL club West Perth has claimed its first scalp.

Club director and former Essendon and Falcons player Russell Ellen has resigned from the club’s seven-man board, citing disagreement over the club’s direction.

His resignation came a week after the board voted 5-2 to enter voluntary administration as a condition of receiving more help from the WA Football Commission, which this week agreed to loan the Joondalup club $250,000 to pay players.

Russell Ellen.

It also came after former West Perth president Colin Rockman told Community News that West Perth members should have been given a say on whether to enter administration.

The Falcons president from 2003 to 2008 and former prominent car dealer was one of about 130 members at a club briefing on the club’s financial woes at Joondalup Arena last night. They heard the debt was not about $600,000 as reported this week but nearly $800,000.

“The board are elected to represent the club. It doesn’t belong to the board, the club belongs to its members,” Rockman said.

“I believe the board should have consulted the members and told us where the financial position was.

“I think at the time we could have raised what we knew or were told that it was about $300,000. It’s now blown out to $780,000.

“If we’d been notified earlier it would have been possible with the amount of passion that runs red and blue and the Garlic Munchers and all the old time from Leederville Oval, we could have probably raised $400,000. Now the horse has bolted I’m not certain whether people will add good money to bad.

“I think the majority of people are very, very upset with what’s happened with the subcontractors in the building industry lucky to get 20c in the dollar.

“I believe we are committed to ensure all out creditors get paid 100 cents in the dollar.”

West Perth president Scott Ballem said the club’s independent financial audit was authorised by the board in May when chief executive Linda Hamersley first identified issues upon her appointment.

“The report was presented to our board on July 2 and the WAFC on July 4,” Ballem said.

“The report found the club was on the brink of insolvency. The severity of our position required immediate legal advice and the board resolved to proceed to this outcome quickly to allow the club to secure support from the WAFC and buy time to generate the funding necessary to trade out.

“There was no time for consultation and any delays in proceeding to this action would have jeopardised the viability of the club.”

Rockman said the club’s biggest problem stemmed back to the circumstances around West Perth’s move from Leederville Oval to the Venues West-run HBF Arena at Joondalup in 1993.

“We were promised certain things to go,” he said.

“Unfortunately the venue was not given to the football club in the manner in which it was agreed upon.

“The cost of running the club is higher than most other clubs.

“We have had marvellous facilities but no clubrooms. We now have a clubroom but we can’t afford it.

“We don’t have the revenue. We are restricted in how we can use facilities.

“We have enormous costs put on to us by Venues West; the security and restrictions on what we can do and can’t do which limits this club in how it can use its facilities to make money.

“The State Government, the football commission and the AFL need to have a real good look at what they’re doing to volunteers who have committed hours and hours of their time with no remuneration other than the love of the game and love of the club.

“Because of this we have a board which has made a decision rightly or wrongly, but they wear the costs of the imposition that Venues West has put on to the club.”