Media Response Ashburton United

Questions & Responses

I am doing a story on Ashburton United Soccer Club not being allowed access to Batesford Reserve any more.

From what I understand, the decision was made because of the works at Ashwood Reserve, resulting in Harlequins needing a base while that work is ongoing.

Is this correct?

Yes, Harlequins Rugby Club will increase its usage of Batesford Reserve for at least the 2019 winter season while the rugby pitch at Holmesglen Reserve in Ashwood  is upgraded. This project is expected to take 12 months.

Could I please get clarification of council's position on Ashburton United Soccer Club and its use of Batesford Reserve?

Batesford Reserve is one of around 9 training and match day venues that we understand Ashburton United Soccer Club uses across three municipalities. The soccer club is a massive club with more than 800 players and we recognise its growth, success and the effort that it takes to coordinate the logistics of  training and matches on such a large scale. The decision not to renew the club’s seasonal use of Batesford Reserve comes as a result of the ongoing pressures from Monash-based clubs and our objective to prioritise and promote their growth and success. These are not easy decisions to make but we believe providing facilities for Monash-based clubs has to be our first consideration.

What is council's relationship with the club?

Council has a strong relationship with all its sporting clubs which included the Ashburton Women’s Soccer Club, which was the original club located at the reserve before merging with Ashburton. Council continued to support the club to use Batesford as a training and playing venue under the terms of its licence agreement (as the Ashburton Women’s Soccer Club) and had a number of discussions about the future use of the ground and the need for our facilities to support Monash-based clubs.

Given work at Ashwood Reserve is expected to be completed by the start of next season, is this likely to be a one-year issue? And if so, could Ashburton United then return to that site?

It’s unlikely that Ashburton United will be able to use Batesford Reserve due to the current and future pressures on Council’s resources from Monash based clubs and codes. Like most Councils in metropolitan Melbourne, a high percentage of our reserves are already operating at capacity. There is also pressure on Council around the need for more maintenance of playing fields because of growing use. These pressures are unlikely to improve.

As well as the difficulty in finding a new venue, the club appears to be upset in the manner of communication of the news considering a relatively long relationship (since 2004). Does council have a response to this?

We believe we kept the club well  informed about the likelihood, and ultimately, the decision that we could no longer accommodate them at Batesford Reserve.  We understand the club is disappointed with this decision however our priority has to be supporting Monash-based clubs. 

Issued: Thursday 6 September 2018

Provided to: Monash Leader

Quoting: Mayor Paul Klisaris