Melton thrust by dirk in corporate mutiny

Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Seven seasons of the Hyundai A-League and six Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have been turned over at Sydney FC. Who’s going to be lucky number 7? Whoever it is, he or she should consult with the previous men in the job and fight over which of the Seven Deadly Sins they are: gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust or envy. According to some, Dirk Melton should take wrath. Melton’s inability to get on with key members of staff led to his dismissal by the club this week.

According to Sydney FC’s media statement, “The unanimous decision of the board follows a number of formal complaints of a serious nature by employees which were investigated and revealed behaviour in Mr Melton’s management of staff which was completely unacceptable.” The statement then went on to pull the proverbial and give praise to his enthusiasm and passion. Where’s the bucket?

The sacking seemed abrupt. Only those inside the walls at Moore Park will really know the culture he established. Although, Melton came with high praise from the NRL’s Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Bulldogs CEO, Todd Greenberg said on losing his Chief Operating Officer, “Dirk has played a major role in the growth and development of the Bulldogs brand and significant credit is due to his hard work, dedication and astute eye for detail and process. His efforts to develop a sound business strategy, and to streamline the procedures and practices across our entire commercial department has seen the club enjoy record numbers in every commercial program.”

Keep in mind, his achievements at the Bulldogs were during a time when the club was recovering from numerous off-field issues, and a code whose media reported PR nightmares for club and league administrators every other week. Scampering claims of players urinating in public, sex scandals and pub fights were all in a day’s work for these corporate firefighters.

Why did Sydney FC take a chance on a non-football person?

Under Melton’s leadership at the Bulldogs, the club underwent a successful brand revision and re-launch, and increased their numbers in the areas of: sponsorship, corporate partnership, community, game day attendance, merchandise, and membership. The Bulldogs reported, “An increase from just over 3,000 in 2008 to in excess of 14,500 in 2011.”

This is what Sydney FC needed and desperately. Melton fit the mandate.

Somehow, it all went terribly wrong.

Melton released a statement through his lawyers which said, “I will not be commenting on the circumstances that have purportedly given rise to the Board’s decision other than to deny strenuously any allegations that have been made against me suggesting that I have engaged in unacceptable management of staff or any other form of inappropriate behaviour.”

He did, however, post some emotive tweets about his sons on Twitter.

“Read some Harry Potter to my eldest son and kissed him goodnight. Couldn’t tell him that Daddy was sacked today. A new adventure begins…”

“Told [my] eldest son this morn[ing] that I’m not working at Sydney FC anymore. He said it will be nice to see me more because I haven’t been at home much.”

“[My] son asked why I’m not at Sydney FC. I told him a couple of men don’t like Daddy very much. He said, ‘I know Brett, Nicky and Terry like you!'”

If only we could all still see the world through the innocent eyes of a child.

Unfortunately, being “liked” isn’t really that relevant when running a football club.

A CEO has a job to do. He or she must please the stakeholders, yes. However, meeting KPIs in football, or any professional sport for that matter, requires time. Melton feels, as he should, that he didn’t have enough time to deliver on his five core values: courage, [to] inspire, [to] be passionate, excellence and family.

Although, upon his sacking, Melton said he had, “many proud achievements that have helped contribute to the success of the club off the field, including the growth of consumer satisfaction, significant improvement in communication, professionalism and community focus, an improvement in attendances of more than 40%, an increase in merchandise sales of more than 30% and new member growth more than 25% ahead of forecast.”

Melton stands by his claim that his club plan was ahead of schedule.

So, who are these affidavit-signing faceless employees? Furthermore, what did Melton do so “inconsistently” and intolerably to cop a dirk to the back like amateur darts night at the local pub?

What role did Sydney FC Chairman, Paul Ramsay (pictured above, right) have to play? What facts were presented to Russian owner, David Traktovenko? We’re hearing now that his son-in-law, Scott Barlow, will play a bigger role in the club’s administration.

Apparently, when Melton came on board in May, he was one of a hundred applicants. For a job so highly sought after, why a sixth sacking in seven seasons?

All is not well at Sydney FC.

Melton made some headway in key areas such as, community programs and membership. However, his sacking was related to his inability to manage his staff. The vote to move him on was “unanimous” for a reason. We’d all love to know. How about some transparency?

It would appear no matter how many CEOs run Sydney FC, it’s not the captain.

It’s the ship.

4 Responses to Melton thrust by dirk in corporate mutiny

  1. I’m currently writing an article on the importance of club culture (Anthony- I would love you your opinion before i send it off ).

    For a board with so many successful business men the lack of accountability has been astonishing. While the problems may have been known in some circles, the public fan perception was that he was doing a good job.
    If the board had respect for those holding these perceptions they would have offered more by way of explaination/justification.

    Sydney and Melbourne are so obviously vital to Australian Football that its essential that Sydney FC gets it together.

  2. Eric says:

    The problems at Sydney FC and this sacking seem to raise more questions than they answer.

    Another great article too Anthony.

  3. peter says:

    I’ve always compared Sydney FC to Chelsea; seems like the timing is also spot on between the two clubs AVB (Chelsea) gone along with Melton.

  4. Ruby says:

    Scott Barlow taking an even greater role at the club. Great.

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