11 April 2024

ACT Government urged to 'put our money where our mouth is' with filing of 5000-strong petition for Canberra United

| Claire Fenwicke
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women holding Save CU sign

A petition with more than 5000 signatures calling for the ACT Government to commit to the future of Canberra United has been tabled in the Legislative Assembly. Photo: Facebook / Save Canberra United.

The ACT Government has been compelled to answer a petition calling for it and Capital Football to prioritise the sustainability and growth of Canberra United.

The petition, which originally started on change.org, contains more than 5000 signatures and was formally tabled to the Legislative Assembly by Brindabella MLA Laura Nuttall on Wednesday (10 April).

The petition also calls on both the government and Capital Football to ensure adequate funding and resources are allocated to the team.

Ms Nuttall said there was a history of women’s sport being sidelined, and the ACT Government needed to “put our money where our mouth is”.

“A good way to test that is wondering whether, in fact, you would say AFL or AFLM,” she said.

“Women and girls in elite sports continue to face systemic challenges and prejudices. The discrepancy in resources, in recognition and support between men’s and women’s sports, is glaring, and it is unacceptable.”

It follows a groundswell effort by Save Canberra United to raise $300,000 so the club can afford to field the team for the 24/25 season. As of this morning (11 April), more than $57,000 had been raised.

The petition contains signatures not only from Canberrans but also from the UK, New Zealand, Fiji and Iran.

Ms Nuttall said given how much money the ACT Government gives to other sports, such as $2.85 million to the GWS Giants, more needed to be invested in the local side.

“Their future hangs in the balance. Without adequate support and investment, we risk not only the success of Canberra United but also the dreams and aspirations of countless women and girls across our region,” she said.

“We need to rally behind our women’s A-League team with unwavering support. Their success is not just a matter of sporting achievement but a testament to the ACT’s commitment to equality and inclusivity.

“Canberra has always prided itself on being progressive and forward-thinking, and now’s the time to prove that once again.”

READ ALSO Don’t let Canberra United die: The push to stop Capital Football from falling into a $500,000 hole

Sports Minister Yvette Berry has previously been vocal in her support of Canberra United to continue as well.

She said she was “thrilled” to see so much support on this issue and assured the community the government was working hard to find a way to not only provide short and medium-term certainty to players, but long-term security for the team.

“It would be an absolute shame to see this club fold,” Ms Berry said.

She filed another round of petition signatures, which included the names of everyone in the ACT Labor caucus to signify their support.

The ACT Government had previously doubled its investment into Canberra United from $125,000 to $250,000 per year.

Canberra has also been flagged as the home of an A-League men’s team, but Ms Berry has made it clear she doesn’t want this at the expense of Canberra United.

An ACT Government spokesperson said the men’s team appeared to be the “model preferred” by investors.

“[Ms Berry] has been working with stakeholders for several weeks to try and find a solution, including Capital Football, A-League Investors and Canberra United Supporters,” they said.

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When asked why the government had given much more money to other sporting teams, the spokesperson said the government considered a range of factors when considering partnerships with elite teams.

“[These considerations] include the opportunity for broader economic benefits to the Territory through encouraging visitation and providing promotion and exposure for Canberra as a destination, as well as pathway development opportunities for the local community,” they said.

Referring specifically to the multi-year, multimillion-dollar GWS Giants deal, the spokesperson said it provided much more to the ACT than at least three AFL matches and at least two AFLW matches to Manuka Oval each year.

“Nearly 45 per cent of the funding provided through this agreement is for a tourism partnership through Visit Canberra,” they said.

“Through this component of the agreement, Canberra is promoted as a destination in our largest markets, Sydney and Melbourne, and the regional areas between those cities and ours.”

Ms Berry has three months to formally respond to the petition. As it has more than 500 signatures, it will also be automatically referred to the relevant Assembly committee for consideration.

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Martin Keast9:10 am 13 Apr 24

Funding any sports club/team by the government is a misuse of taxpayer funds. First, the purpose of government is not to fund ‘feel good’ projects but to maintain protections for citizens, keep the peace, justice and law enforcement, and so on. Secondly, this is very discriminatory – why soccer? why not rugby, tiddly-winks, chess etc?
We are forced under threat of punishment to pay our taxes and this is a slap in the face when they are used for this sort of thing.

Heywood Smith10:21 am 12 Apr 24

Why is no one asking Capital Football where all the money is? I have 2 kids who play CPL/NPL, and between the two of them, its several thousands in rego fees.. Multiply that by X number of kids who play at the CPL/NPL level and its quite a substantial amount. No doubt administration costs and big salaries are chewing it all up! CAPITAL FOOTBALL ARE PATHETIC!!

That’s a ridiculous amount of money for kids’ sport! Sadly too many sporting clubs spend most of their money on their stars and their execs, with no concern for everyone else.

Last game ALW Canberra United vs Sydney FC. Crowd? 957
That’s a bit more than friends and family.

So out of the 5000 who signed the petition, less than 20% are actually going to come and watch.

There is no interest so why invest in it?

And the comment about AFLM – if you build a league as wildly popular as AFL, you get dibs on the name.

I don’t see people crying about underinvestment in a Male Netball team.

Attendance figures for the season can be found at https://www.austadiums.com/stadiums/mckellar-park/crowds. About 14-15k across the 11 home games or about 1,400 average per game

The ‘last’ home game was a mid-week game that started at 4pm. It was a catch up for a game that was cancelled due to lightning. Stop being disingenuous.

Heywood Smith10:24 am 12 Apr 24

Still poor crowd figures in general, no matter what rose colour glasses you wear.

It’s really not.

“[These considerations] include the opportunity for broader economic benefits to the Territory through encouraging visitation and providing promotion and exposure for Canberra as a destination.”

If that was the case, you would have pushed for being part of the Women’s World Cup, but we know this government is anti-football (professionally) – Men’s or Women’s.

Sports should be funded equally by taxpayers, or not at all. Funding one gender’s sport over another is discrimination. Surely the purpose from the perspective of the Canberra community, is to offer our children (no matter their gender) sporting opportunities and futures. Government can fund accordingly. Private investors can fund in their own interest.

Heywood Smith10:25 am 12 Apr 24

Professional sports organisations are a ‘business’. Why would you invest money in a business that is failing?

Usually to improve it. If you want to increase your income and profits, you have to develop your products, support and promote them so the customers can see their value. Currently, many sports associations are failing to do that, throwing money at declining sports and going broke, instead of supporting ones that will grow.

“The petition contains signatures not only from Canberrans but also from the UK, New Zealand, Fiji and Iran.”

So, they have people from around the world sign a petition and they could still only get 5000 signatures? What percentage of the signatures are even from Canberra?

Maybe those 5000 people could open their own wallets to fund their passtime rather than demand that taxpayer’s funds it? If there was sufficient interest in the team in the first place, there would be no need to beg for even more government funding but this clearly isn’t the case.

Fix our roads and fund essential services like education and health etc before you give a cent to sporting teams. Priorities people.

We should claw back some of those generous tax concessions given to ‘self funded’ retirees. Fix our roads and health etc, priorities people.

Raph – It’s certainly an arguable point that the tax concessions given to retirees are overly generous, but I don’t see how this is relevant to this particular conversation given that’s a federal issue; We’re discussing funding from a local government that should be prioritising delivering critical services which are clearly lacking in this city.

Capital Retro8:35 am 12 Apr 24

What exactly are those concessions, Raphael 88?

You are aware that self-funded retirees don’t get the aged pension and associated perks that cost the Federal purse about $50k per person per annum.

Capital Retro8:49 am 12 Apr 24

Overly generous compared to what, Bob?

Heywood Smith10:39 am 12 Apr 24

As a pensioner, you get to drive under the speed limit, and stay in the right lane even if not overtaking.

Capital Retro,
You have heard of Superannuation yes?

The speed limit is a ceiling, not a floor, so everyone is required to travel under the speed limit.

Only morons stay in the right lane and that behaviour is not about age. It is about low intelligence.

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