South Melbourne FC acknowledges the article published this morning (Tuesday 18 February 2020) in the Sydney tabloid media relating to the clubs relationship with former players and containing accusations of players not being paid.

The club was requested to provide a comment on the allegations however was not provided any information or specifics as to who or what they were about. Club representatives asked the author on a number of occasions to provide such details enabling a meaningful response to be outlined however the author refused to do so. This ensured the club was unable to provide a factual and accurate response to the allegations, or even verify if those players involved have ever played for South Melbourne.

The article refers to the club withholding the wages of multiple players. The author of the article reports this as an accusation but continues without providing any substance or evidence to support the claim. More so when South Melbourne advised the author it has not had any contact from the PFA or Football Victoria on any such player dispute, the author simply noted that the PFA has contacted Football Victoria. The fact no contact has been made with the Club adds to the intrigue of the veracity of the accusation and the real motivation behind fabricated stories such as this.

The Club is appalled with this type of journalism and the lack of integrity and transparency demonstrated by the author and publisher. On face value the article appears to be aimed at discrediting NPL clubs and the biggest, South Melbourne FC, in particular rather than an accurate representation of the facts.

South Melbourne has an extensive history of having its Senior Men’s players on professional contracts. This approach ensures consistency, transparency and accountability for both players and the club.

South Melbourne FC welcomes the opportunity to fully professionalise the league and establish the National Second Division. The club has and continues to work proactively with the FFA, the PFA and the AAFC to achieve this. The National Second Division is critical component of Football’s survival and development in this country. It will serve as the peak in a Whole of Football framework whereby any club in any state or territory can embrace aspirational football and, under the promotion and relegation system, make their way to play at the national level. It appears there may be forces opposed to that objective and the growth of the game in Australia.

The club is very comfortable with its position regarding all past and current players. We believe in and welcome the establishment of an independent grievance process for players and clubs to deal with legitimate disputes as they may arise from time to time.

The club notes the statement provided in the article by the PFA does not relate to South Melbourne FC but to NPL clubs generally. South Melbourne has had no correspondence from the PFA dating well back over at least a year relating to any form of player dispute.

Similarly the statement in the article by Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos does not mention South Melbourne FC in any way. The club has received no requests from Football Victoria on any form of player dispute.

The club maintains a positive and constructive working relationship with the PFA and Football Victoria.

The club will continue to support its current and former players with their professional football careers. The club will vigorously defend the integrity of its brand and its players from defamatory publications, in particular where the facts have been knowingly omitted and/or the club is not provided the opportunity to contribute a meaningful response.