18 April 2024

Canberra United safe for another season after ACT Government injects extra $200,000

| Claire Fenwicke
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Michelle Heyman with two young Canberra United fans

Michelle Heyman with two young Canberra United fans. Photo: Save Canberra United Facebook.

Canberra United players will take to the field for season 17 after an injection of $200,000 from the ACT Government.

Sports Minister Yvette Berry wrote to Capital Football CEO Samantha Farrow on Wednesday (17 April) night to let her know she’d found the extra cash.

“I write to advise that the ACT Government has agreed to offer Capital Football an additional $200,000 as per your request, to further support the operational budget for Canberra United in the 2024-25 season, in addition to the early payment of the $250,000 partnership funding,” she wrote.

“This offer is in recognition of the ACT Government’s commitment to one of Canberra’s most beloved teams. We acknowledge the role that Canberra United plays in inspiring women and girls in our community.

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”

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Save Canberra United (SCU) has been a key part in raising community awareness and funds to keep the team going.

Their push has already raised more than $70,000 for the team.

Spokesperson and former Matilda Sue Read said the group was thrilled with the government’s support, but much more needed to be done.

“We still need a minimum of $30,000 more to reach the required amount to cover all the expenses of a season with minimal resources, so we are still raising funds,” she said.

“This means we can keep Michelle Heyman, who has been batting away offers from all over the world … but we’re still struggling to meet the minimum salary cap.

“For us to be competitive at the top, we still need about an extra $100,000 to $200,000.”

Ms Read pointed out that in many of Canberra United’s recent games, they had lost by one point by goals scored in the dying minutes.

She said if the club had more money, it could afford to buy more top-level performers.

“If we can purchase one or two better players, then we can actually be winning games, and suddenly, you’re at the top of the league.”

Michelle Heyman and Yvette Berry

Sports Minister Yvette Berry (right, with Canberra United’s Michelle Heyman) has been vocal in her support for the team. Photo: Save Canberra United.

Ms Read said SCU’s next focus would be getting more sponsors to give the club financial security.

“Research is showing [that] women’s sport is the hottest commodity at the moment for backers,” she said.

It also wouldn’t stop advocating for more government investment.

“The inequity of funding for women’s sporting teams in Canberra is astounding, and something we plan to focus our efforts on in the long-term,” Ms Read said.

Capital Football CEO Samantha Farrow also noted government funding was a short-term solution.

“We thank the football community for supporting Canberra United through the ‘Save Canberra United’ fundraising campaign, and that, coupled with this generous contribution from the government, certainly helps the club in our immediate requirements, but we still have some shortfall to cover costs for the new season,” she said.

“Having said that, the directors of the Capital Football board have agreed to field a team in Season 17, and we look forward to working with government, fans and commercial to give the club every opportunity going forward.”

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ACT Government funding comes with some conditions.

Ms Berry told Capital Football that, in return for the extra $200,000, the Territory was seeking “additional community engagement activities” to take advantage of women’s football’s profile since the Matilda’s World Cup success, more sponsorship and signage opportunities, and access to profile players to promote Canberra.

“Please note that this funding uplift offer will only be provisioned for one year in 2024-25 and will not form the foundation of, or set any precedent for, any future negotiation discussions regarding partnership fee funding,” Ms Berry added.

“Further, noting the current four-year agreement expires on 30 June 2025, any future agreement would require a financial due diligence to be undertaken to provide assurance that Canberra United is a viable ongoing concern.”

The announcement came as the Capital Football board is being consulted about the future of the club’s investment in a Home of Football in Throsby.

Ms Berry wrote she was looking forward to receiving a response on this matter so that the government could begin construction work “without further delay”.

Conversations also continue about securing a Men’s A-League team for the Territory.

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Canberra United are a failed project, who have a minuscule supporter base. They should not have been granted ACT tax payers money to save. The only reason that this occurred was that an incompetent minister in Yvette Berry, who has previously ignored the dismissive and reckless actions of capital football, saw an opportunity to get behind her female, rather than all constituents first, warped political ideology. The opposition were as usual eerily quiet on this one too.

Stephen Saunders12:36 pm 19 Apr 24

Only a short term fix. They have been great for the sport, but Capital Football doesn’t want to know them, neither does APL.

As for Football Australia, they refer all queries back to APL. Strictly not interested, in Canberra women.

Capital Retro8:16 am 19 Apr 24

Where are all the comments praising the ACT Government’s largesse from the thousands of Canberra United supporters?

William Newby10:35 pm 18 Apr 24

Another home goal for Labor, how could they deny funding this female team that none of us even knew about a week ago.
More of our money peed into the wind.

Capital Retro12:12 pm 18 Apr 24


No money for supporting the senior citizens with special needs who were tossed out of the Y at Chifley when the YMCA abandoned old people but plenty for professional sports people with lovely smiles.

ACT government funding is $450,000. Total attendance across all home games last season was just over 16,000. So the government funding is $28 per attendee at a home game.

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