Why clubs hate Melbourne City

Melbourne Heart was asked on countless occasions: “When are you going to get a women’s team?” Their answer was always the same: "When we can do it properly and treat the women as well as we do the men."

Melbourne City W-League team

Melbourne City after winning the 2016 W-League grand final Source: Getty Images

This was something I thought was a fairy tale… something that was never to come to fruition because in what world does a female team get treated as well as the men?

Well apparently it happens all over the world. Countless clubs are now seeing the value in treating their women as well as their men. Why? Well, why not?

Melbourne Heart saw a vision before they had the means.

In 2014 The City Football Group took over the club and Melbourne City was born.

Backed by the Abu Dhabi United Group, the club acquired the land that they, up until that point, had been borrowing in partnership with Latrobe University.

Melbourne City paid $15 million to construct themselves a state of the art training centre and not long after it was dubbed The City Football Academy – Melbourne Campus.  

2015 saw the inception of Melbourne City into the W-League.

From the outset Melbourne City were serious. Acquiring the former head coach of Melbourne Victory, Joseph Montemurro - a man with vision and a strong sense of what the women’s game needed. “Why treat them any different?”

Pep acquired an array of Matildas from Victoria and interstate. As well as many local home grown players from the premier league in Victoria.

If you asked them, the players wanted to stay and be loyal to their clubs but the City brand just had too much to offer.

Being paid a decent salary for the first time in their careers was a big lure and we aren’t talking about just for the the local girls but for the Matildas both locally and interstate, who had been so undervalued.

Now was an opportunity to not only earn a wage befit their talent but also be treated as a professional.

A professional environment meant that players were prepared to leave teams where they could get a starting position, to come to a club that would see them often sit the bench or not even make the team sheet. An environment that made you better just by being around it.  

City used up all of their salary cap – the first team to ever do so in the W-League, but it wasn’t the thing that kept the players happy.

It was the sense that they were footballers. Not female, not girls but footballers.

Every footballer was treated the same. From medical to nutrition to their kit being washed and ready for them to put on every morning. They had somewhere to eat and study and hang out if they wished.

Players all over the country were crazy with jealousy. Clubs were worried.

They saw what City were doing off the pitch, which then translated to dominance on the pitch. City was undefeated throughout their entire first season. Smashing all records along the way.

Whilst many clubs have been wondering how they will reel in the 2015-16 champions in this, their second season, Melbourne City has been finding a way to increase the gap.

On the 24th November, City Football unveiled their new training facilities for their Championship-winning footballers.  A space solely dedicated to the W- League squad.

This may seem small, but they even have a space to hang their boots!!

The reaction on social media has been full of praise, especially from rival footballers in opposing clubs.

Players applauding the work of Melbourne City and the City Football Group. Showing what players want most, is to be treated as a valued member of the club.

Most clubs spout a one football family philosophy but at Melbourne City they are doing it. Right down to the volunteer equipment lads who chase balls at training sessions.

Clubs say they value all the players at their club, yet don’t allow their female team to train on the same pitches or allow them the same medical expertise or strength and conditioning programs.

The problem is that most clubs believe it is down to money. Whilst I understand it is to some point. It really isn’t.

It’s about a mentality. That a footballer is a footballer no matter the package it comes in.

Setting standards.

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4 min read
Published 28 November 2016 at 8:39am
By Melissa Barbieri