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PROTRACK » STAWELL GIFT CRISIS » Stawell Gift in Crisis - Luke's Resignation letter to Stawell Athletic Club

Stawell Gift in Crisis - Luke's Resignation letter to Stawell Athletic Club

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Luke Versace


It is with great sadness that today I informed the Stawell Athletics Club (SAC) I would be resigning from my position as Club Patron, effective immediately. Being the SAC Patron and performing the associated duties is an honour I have and will continue to cherish. Performing this role however also brings with it a responsibility to do everything in my power to ensure the Stawell Gift Carnival maintains its place as an iconic event on the Australian sporting calendar.

Unfortunately discharging this responsibility now requires me to publicly state that I have lost faith in the SAC Committee to act in the best interests of the event, as opposed to in the interests of themselves.

I have formed this view after attempting, in my role as SAC Patron, to help the club and the State Government finalise a funding agreement after negotiations broke down in November this year. This funding is vital and would secure the future of the event, both in the short and long term. Unfortunately, this has not occurred and although there are numerous reasons why this is so, the biggest is simply that the SAC Committee is unable, or unwilling, to accept that change is necessary if the Gift is to survive. Crucially, it is the club’s inability to share or cede control in areas it has previously had full autonomy, in exchange for life saving funding which has prevented a deal from being reached. From my perspective this is completely unacceptable and an unjustifiable betrayal of both the history and future of an event that means so much to so many.

If a deal cannot be reached between the State Government and the SAC in the next couple of days, the Stawell Gift as we know it will be forever gone. In the short term, it will lose its national broadcast slot on Channel 7, reduce its prize money dramatically and relinquish its status as a truly iconic Australian event.

While the situation is bleak, there is still hope the event can be saved if an agreement can be reached in the coming days. For this to happen, it is up to each and every individual who loves the event to do what they can to help encourage the negotiating parties to reach an agreement. This may include contacting the SAC or your local Member of Parliament or utilising social media to ensure that as many people as possible are aware of the existential crisis facing this beloved event. Put simply, anything that can be done to put a public spotlight on this issue and by extension help encourage the SAC to aggressively pursue an agreement with the Government would be beneficial at this time.

I would also encourage any sponsors who are interested in helping to save the Stawell Gift to step forward now as the event desperately needs a ‘White Knight’. If a sponsor or sponsors were to appear, they would be doing more than just sponsoring a race, they would be helping to save an Australian treasure.

Finally, I just want to say that making this statement is not something I take lightly, especially given the fact that in my opinion the SAC, its members and team of volunteers have for many decades performed the role of ‘custodians’ of The Gift with aplomb.  It is even more difficult to make given the kindness and generosity the club and its members have bestowed upon me since I won the race in 2014. Although I understand they may find the position that I have taken upsetting and disappointing, I hope that they understand my actions were motivated by upholding the club motto ‘Ever Foremost’. I now ask that they do the same.

Regards,

Luke Versace Former Stawell Gift Winner, former Patron of the SAC.

Steve Buscemi


Sad news Luke Sad - Will you still be around to share a beer with?

youngy

youngy
Admin
Admin
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/stawell-gifts-future-in-jeopardy-over-funding-dispute-between-organisers-victorian-government/news-story/9ef047b35941ebf845349b525f774016

Stawell Gift’s future in jeopardy over funding dispute between organisers, Victorian Government


By Scott Gullan
The Australian
Thursday December 19th 2019


Stawell Gift in Crisis - Luke's Resignation letter to Stawell Athletic Club 591dc5c92183d681b38538642cb9110e?width=650
IDhruv Rodrigues-Chico (fourth from left) wins the 2019 Stawell Gift in Central Park, Stawell, Victoria in April. Picture: AAP

The Stawell Gift is on the brink of collapse, with fears Australia’s richest footrace could be gone within five years.

Negotiations between the Victorian Government and the Stawell Athletic Club about a rescue package have broken down.

Sports Minister Martin Pakula is a major fan of the event and has offered a five-year sponsorship deal which would ensure the historic race’s future.

The sticking point is the club’s refusal to embrace a new committee being formed which would include local council, government, marketing and sponsorship experts who would take over the running of the event, Stawell Athletic Club would retain three to four seats on the new board and would also have the power to disband it in the future if necessary.

However, the local committee is unwilling to embrace the new entity which would mean the Gift would effectively disappear with no TV coverage and minimal prize money.

Former winner Luke Versace has resigned his position as Club patron because he fears the event is doomed unless there is a dramatic change in thinking by the locals.

“I have a deep respect for the Stawell Athletic Club but they are making decisions in the interest of the committee and not everyone who loves the race,” Versace said.

“The consequences of this are grave. If they don’t take the money and embrace the new board then I don’t have confidence that the Gift will be run at Central Park in the future.”

"I have my fingers crossed the stories are wrong about the demise of the Stawell Gift, as I know the Vic Government are desperate to help the Gift survive & prosper."

Another former winner, Channel 7 presenter Jason Richardson, described the club’s stance as “tragic”.

“It’s tragic that this great race is being killed off because of people’s self-interest.”

The Gift has been around since 1878 with last year’s winner receiving a $30,000 cheque. It was also televised live on Channel Seven.


_________________
"Let's Go While We're Young"

4Stawell Gift in Crisis - Luke's Resignation letter to Stawell Athletic Club Empty Statement On Stawell Gift In 2020 on Thu Dec 19, 2019 3:57 pm

youngy

youngy
Admin
Admin
Statement On Stawell Gift In 2020

◾Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade

The Andrews Labor Government recognises that the Stawell Gift holds special meaning for many Victorians.

On 22 February 2019, the Government announced that it would provide an additional $138,000 to restore prize money levels and retain broadcast arrangements for the 2019 Gift.

The Government publicly indicated that future funding support would be conditional on significant changes being made to the commercial, governance and non-racing elements of the event, and the Government, Stawell Athletic Club (SAC) and Northern Grampians Shire Council signed a memorandum of understanding to that effect.

The SAC acknowledged that the operating model for the Gift required major reform and agreed to participate in an independent review.

In May 2019, following the running of the 2019 Gift, the Government engaged Matthew Mahon from Royce Communications to undertake the review. The review recommended an operating model that delivered key elements of the MoU, including:
◾The event being held in Stawell over the Easter long weekend
◾Retention of a live free-to-air broadcast
◾Prizemoney being held at similar levels
◾SAC retaining event-day management and Gift intellectual property rights.

The recommended operating model proposed a committee of management including representatives from the SAC, the council, Victorian Athletic League, Grampians Tourism and independent members with expertise in event management and marketing.

The purpose of the new committee was to improve the event experience for participants, visitors and viewers by leveraging the TV broadcast, the tourism offerings in the region and the entertainment offerings at the carnival.

On 20 November 2019, the Government offered $280,000 to support the 2020 Gift and implement the new operating model.

The SAC has subsequently notified the Government that it had resolved not to accept the review recommendations and as a result, the associated offer of funding from the Government.

The Government thanks the SAC and council for participating in the review and respects the decision of the SAC.

The Government is proud of its support for the Stawell Gift, including providing more than $700,000 towards the event since December 2014.

It remains open to the Stawell Athletics Club to accept the review recommendations and associated funding support. The Government will continue to work with the Victorian Athletic League to support professional running in Victoria.


_________________
"Let's Go While We're Young"

Admin

Admin
Admin
Admin
https://www.smh.com.au/sport/athletics/stawell-gift-in-peril-after-organisers-reject-victorian-government-bailout-20191219-p53liq.html


Stawell Gift in peril after organisers reject Victorian government bailout


By Michael Gleeson
The Age
December 19, 2019


Australia’s most famous athletic event, the Stawell Gift, is in danger of collapse after the race’s organisers rejected a $1.4 million rescue package from the Victorian government.

The historic Gift, the richest and most prestigious footrace in Australia, has struggled for years and now faces an uncertain future.

The Gift needed a $140,000 Victorian government bail out this year to run but a long-term state government financial package and management overhaul has been rejected by the Stawell Athletic Club, which organises the race.

The decision to reject the government proposal prompted Stawell patron, Luke Versace, to quit his post claiming Gift organisers had put self-interest ahead of the event.

“Unfortunately discharging this responsibility (as Patron) now requires me to publicly state that I have lost faith in the SAC Committee to act in the best interests of the event, as opposed to in the interests of themselves,” Versace said in an open letter of resignation.

Versace, a lawyer and former Gift winner, had become involved in November in trying to broker a deal between the athletic club and state government after talks broke down.

The state government had offered the club a financial bailout worth $280,000 a year for five years to help salvage the race as an event and set it up for the future.

The government proposed a new board of management be installed, comprising members of government, the SAC, local council, tourism board, marketing and broadcasting experts.

SAC president Neil Blizzard rejected Versace’s criticisms and said the club was still in negotiation with the government and hopeful yet of reaching a funding arrangement.

“I have no idea why he [Versace] made those comments, we are still talking to them [the government]. We are putting our view across and still negotiating. We will have a clearer plan in January,” Blizzard said.

Versace said the club’s decision imperiled the future of the event.

“Although there are numerous reasons why [they rejected the proposal] … the biggest is simply that the SAC Committee is unable, or unwilling, to accept that change is necessary if the Gift is to survive.

“Crucially, it is the club’s inability to share or cede control in areas it has previously had full autonomy, in exchange for life-saving funding which has prevented a deal from being reached.

“From my perspective this is completely unacceptable and an unjustifiable betrayal of both the history and future of an event that means so much to so many.

“If a deal cannot be reached between the State Government and the SAC in the next couple of days, the Stawell Gift as we know it will be forever gone.

“In the short term, it will lose its national broadcast slot on Channel Seven, reduce its prize money dramatically and relinquish its status as a truly iconic Australian event.”

In 2018 the winners of the men’s and women’s 120m Gifts won $40,000 each.

The prize money was poised to be cut this year to $25,000 in each event, with the winners earning $17,000, before the state government funding allowed the prize money to remain untouched.

https://protrack.forumotion.com

ToM

ToM
ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
http://www.stawellgift.com/2019/12/a-statement-from-the-stawell-athletic-club/

A STATEMENT FROM THE STAWELL ATHLETIC CLUB

Date: 20th December 2019
Friday December 20, 2019
This morning, the Stawell Athletic Club Committee conducted an extraordinary meeting at the Stawell Athletic Club offices in Stawell.
At this meeting the Stawell Athletic Club Committee voted to continue to engage in discussions with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions regarding funding and the future operating model of the Stawell Gift. This decision has been reached following correspondence between the Ministers office and the Stawell Athletic Club on Thursday December 19, 2019.
The Stawell Athletic Club has advised the Honorable Martin Pakula MP of this decision and looks forward to further fruitful discussions with the Victorian Government regarding the Stawell Gift.
The Stawell Athletic Club would like to acknowledge the efforts and contribution of the Victorian Government, Royce Communications, Northern Grampians Shire Council, and, the Victorian Athletic League in these ongoing discussions.
The Stawell Athletic Club Committee maintains its commitment to the sustainable conduct of the Stawell Gift. The 2020 Stawell Gift will be held on April 11-13, 2020.
Neil Blizzard
President, Stawell Athletic Club

ToM

ToM
ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/statement-on-stawell-gift-in-2020/

Statement On Stawell Gift In 2020

Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade
19 December 2019
Media Release
The Andrews Labor Government recognises that the Stawell Gift holds special meaning for many Victorians.

On 22 February 2019, the Government announced that it would provide an additional $138,000 to restore prize money levels and retain broadcast arrangements for the 2019 Gift.

The Government publicly indicated that future funding support would be conditional on significant changes being made to the commercial, governance and non-racing elements of the event, and the Government, Stawell Athletic Club (SAC) and Northern Grampians Shire Council signed a memorandum of understanding to that effect.

The SAC acknowledged that the operating model for the Gift required major reform and agreed to participate in an independent review.

In May 2019, following the running of the 2019 Gift, the Government engaged Matthew Mahon from Royce Communications to undertake the review. The review recommended an operating model that delivered key elements of the MoU, including:

The event being held in Stawell over the Easter long weekend
Retention of a live free-to-air broadcast
Prizemoney being held at similar levels
SAC retaining event-day management and Gift intellectual property rights.
The recommended operating model proposed a committee of management including representatives from the SAC, the council, Victorian Athletic League, Grampians Tourism and independent members with expertise in event management and marketing.

The purpose of the new committee was to improve the event experience for participants, visitors and viewers by leveraging the TV broadcast, the tourism offerings in the region and the entertainment offerings at the carnival.

On 20 November 2019, the Government offered $280,000 to support the 2020 Gift and implement the new operating model.

The SAC has subsequently notified the Government that it had resolved not to accept the review recommendations and as a result, the associated offer of funding from the Government.

The Government thanks the SAC and council for participating in the review and respects the decision of the SAC.

The Government is proud of its support for the Stawell Gift, including providing more than $700,000 towards the event since December 2014.

It remains open to the Stawell Athletics Club to accept the review recommendations and associated funding support. The Government will continue to work with the Victorian Athletic League to support professional running in Victoria.

ToM

ToM
ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
https://www.val.org.au/News/tabid/132/ID/1252/VICTORIAN-ATHLETIC-LEAGUE-OFFICIAL-POSITION.aspx

VICTORIAN ATHLETIC LEAGUE OFFICIAL POSITION
posted on December 20, 2019
Victorian Athletic League Official Position

The Victorian Government has been a major partner of the Stawell Gift and on behalf of the Victorian Athletic League (VAL) we are grateful for the support for this iconic event. We would strongly support an agreement between the State Government and the Stawell Athletic Club. Working with the State Government is crucial to ensure the Stawell Gift remains the jewel in the VAL crown. The VAL support the offer put forward by the State Government and while ultimately the decision rests with the Stawell Athletic Club, the VAL will continue to avail ourselves to all parties in the hope that support for the iconic Stawell Gift event is secured.

Regards
Stephanie

President
Victorian Athletic League

Manikato


I think some don't care if the race is worth 17500 to the winner or 40000. They just enjoy running in the race and having a weekend away. Believe me, you probably get the same amount of entries anyway.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
manikato anyone that 'just enjoys going for a run and having a weekend away' are people that have no chance of making the final let alone winning. I don't think changing the money will make entries plummet straight away, but each year they will slowly drop as there is no TV coverage, the quality of running will drop as athletes will not have the same motivation to win a race that wont be shown on TV, and that is less then half the amount of prize money. And in a few years time it will be just another race on the VAL calendar that no one in Australia will care who the winner is. You can forget bout international athletes, amo athletes will be gone, its not worth their trip out to Stawell. The wave of little aths kids coming through sadly don't know or care for the history of Stawell and it will be buried will all the members of the SAC who think their saving Stawell but they are doing the opposite.

People say its about the sash not the cash, and i'm one of those people. But pump 40k into Ballarat and put it on channel 7 and drop Stawell to 17k, put them on the same day and watch every man and his dog drive down to Ballarat.

Manikato


Bill Clinton wrote:manikato anyone that 'just enjoys going for a run and having a weekend away' are people that have no chance of making the final let alone winning. I don't think changing the money will make entries plummet straight away, but each year they will slowly drop as there is no TV coverage, the quality of running will drop as athletes will not have the same motivation to win a race that wont be shown on TV, and that is less then half the amount of prize money. And in a few years time it will be just another race on the VAL calendar that no one in Australia will care who the winner is. You can forget bout international athletes, amo athletes will be gone, its not worth their trip out to Stawell. The wave of little aths kids coming through sadly don't know or care for the history of Stawell and it will be buried will all the members of the SAC who think their saving Stawell but they are doing the opposite.

People say its about the sash not the cash, and i'm one of those people. But pump 40k into Ballarat and put it on channel 7 and drop Stawell to 17k, put them on the same day and watch every man and his dog drive down to Ballarat.

The people from Ballarat stage a great event every year. The problem with the event is people running under the ceiling time the heats at Stawell when other athletes are handicap not to run the ceiling before the heats are run. Those people are worth their weight in gold and the people who turn up each week putting their hand in the pocket and getting nothing back.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
Manikato I do agree with you, I have not ran the gift for a good few years now with my last run being watching the back of Nathan Allen in 2007, I was one of those runners who ran week in week out and never held back, which meant I never got to have a crack at the big one, but that was okay. I ran because I enjoyed it, and I encourage my 2 little ones to do the same. Hopefully Stawell sorts this all out and the history of Stawell can live on.

Manikato


Bill Clinton wrote:Manikato I do agree with you, I have not ran the gift for a good few years now with my last run being watching the back of Nathan Allen in 2007, I was one of those runners who ran week in week out and never held back, which meant I never got to have a crack at the big one, but that was okay. I ran because I enjoyed it, and I encourage my 2 little ones to do the same. Hopefully Stawell sorts this all out and the history of Stawell can live on.

Well said. That is nice and you walk away with pride. Very Happy That is what I teach Jody and Steph.

Dmac


Any official update on the SAC and governments catch up?

AussiePro


This sentence says it all... "The Andrews Labor Government recognises that the Stawell Gift holds special meaning for many Victorians."

Perhaps over the years VAL should have encouraged more of the rest of Australia? Sad to see the pro's dying a fast death!

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