Dockers dig deep to fund 2012 improvement
Fremantle plan to use a significant cash bonus to further beef up spending on football department improvements to help return to the finals in 2012.
The Dockers’ disappointing season ended with a 46-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but chief executive Steve Rosich revealed yesterday that Fremantle were already considering budgetary measures to ensure the club kept pace with the AFL’s best teams.
Rosich said an initial profit forecast of $200,000 had been overshadowed by an extra $400,000 over budget in injury payments. But a 7 per cent rise in membership, a 70 per cent boost in merchandise takings and solid corporate support had prompted a revised potential profit of up to $500,000.
All players will have fitness and medical tests over the next four days as well as meetings with coach Mark Harvey and his match committee which will shape the immediate future of several.
Fremantle have already secured many of their star players on long-term contracts and are expected to extend the tenures of defenders Alex Silvagni and Michael Johnson as early as today.
It is increasingly likely that veteran defender Antoni Grover will play on into a 14th senior season.
Rosich said the positive financial result would help fund the club’s drive and focus to quickly erase the bitter memory of this year’s injury-ravaged season.
He said the board expected to sign off on the extent of a fighting fund later this month.
The extra spending would be used to enhance key areas of the football department – adding more quality to the player list, adding to coaching resources, building a stronger link between the development program and coaching operations, sports science resources and leadership programs.
“It’s clear that we can make some enhancements across the five key areas in our football operations,” Rosich said.
“We’ve had a real focus of ensuring that we’re matching the competition in the resources that are available in the footy operations area to coach, develop and enhance our playing group.
“There’s no doubt that in the fiercely competitive nature of the competition we’re in, that we’ll need to go again this year in terms of the magnitude of the spend.
“The reality is that it’s the front-and-centre focus of our football club to ensure that we can improve our footy operations so that we can be a regular finals contender.
“What will drive us is the fact that we are disappointed we’re not playing consecutive finals series.
“But we have a very clear picture on what we need to enhance to give us the best chance of playing finals football next season.”
A stoic Harvey has forecast a brutal assessment of several players who failed to help the team – which lost the last seven games of the season – hold up as the year slipped away.
While he hinted wholesale changes would be difficult because of the compromised draft aimed at boosting Greater Western Sydney into their first year in the competition, he said hard decisions would be made on some players to allow Fremantle flexibility to chase players in trade week.
Roger Hayden and Byron Schammer have already announced their retirements.
Harvey listed players with speed in defence and the midfield, as well as a key forward, would be priorities.
His coaching contract, which expires at the end of next year, will be discussed by the board during the pre-season.
Rosich said Fremantle would not pursue the possibility of recruiting key forward Brendan Fevola.
While he would not comment specifically on Collingwood defender Leon Davis, if he decided to return home to play in WA, the 30-year-old is outside the ideal age bracket for the club’s list management model.
He said the club had yet to make a decision on whether to offer a new deal to out-of-contract midfielder Rhys Palmer, who has been the subject of much talk about a move to GWS.
Rosich said the list management model had been reviewed in May and he believed the club was “well advanced” in that area and scouting of prospective recruits from across the competition. “We’re setting ourselves up for some change to our list again at season’s end,” he said.
“We’ll be quite strategic and specific on the sorts of players we’re looking at, and we’ve started that process already.
“With the discussions that have been held to date with player managers, it’s clear that the Fremantle Football Club is an attractive option for AFL players to get to.
“But it’s about finding the right players who fit our list management model and our needs and ensuring that an appropriate arrangement can be struck.”
Rosich said the club was disappointed with the “significant level of injury” that had rocked it this year and the end-of-season review would include a thorough investigation of each incident as well as the conditioning program and preventative procedures.