No idle threat!
By STEVE SPINKS
SOCCER Far North Coast general manager Matt Kelso has reiterated that unless his organisation is better supported with facilities and funding by Lismore City Council he will move the organisation to Ballina or Byron Bay.
Kelso took aim at council in Saturday's Northern Star, declaring SFNC had had enough of broken promises and poor facilities.
His outburst stemmed from the city council's retraction of funding for stage one of lighting improvement at Riverview Park, which had been used by SFNC as an elite junior training facility for the past four years.
"It's certainly still there (the option to move)," Kelso told The Northern Star.
"We require a training venue."
As reported in The Northern Star in November, the capital works program for sporting grounds in the financial year of 2003/04 had included the first stage of improving the lighting at Riverview Park.
However, at a meeting on August 10, 2004, councillors passed a motion allowing the remaining capital works money, set aside for Lismore sporting facilities, to be used to cover a blowout in the Parks and Gardens maintenance budget.
Compounding SFNC's problem is the fact that their organisation is continually expanding.
"We grew 10 per cent last year to 6600 registered players," Kelso said.
"With a compulsory merger we have to go through in the next six months with Tweed we're going to have an extra 1000 players to accommodate.
"It's not just a challenge for Lismore, but every region."
According to Kelso, the floodlights at Riverview Park are substandard, as is the electricity supply.
On Saturday he said SFNC had sourced funding to the tune of $300,000 for the improvement of the facility, but now that was in question because of the council's failure to provide the first stage of the redevelopment.
"We want to set the place up as a regional soccer centre which would be a big bonus for the community and for us as well," Kelso said.
"It would have given us the scope to bring in high-profile matches.
"The reality is that the possibility of getting internationals are now almost nil."
Kelso said Oakes Oval was unsuitable for top soccer events because of the cricket pitch.
"Requirements for hosting big events are now far more stringent," he said.