By Grant Jones
While general manager Michael Clancy seemed the obvious choice to take over as CEO after the shock resignation of 30-year Bankstown Sports Club veteran Mark Condi last year, it has taken a little while for the board of Bankstown Sports Group to confirm his appointment. A year, in fact.
But a 24-year Bankstown Sports man himself, Clancy said he understood it was a process the club needed to go through after Condi resigned.
“The board asked me and I was extremely grateful to even have the opportunity,” he says of the interim role. “They have been very supportive from the outset, and we have certainly continued in our vision for the future and focussed on our core business and, as you know, it hasn’t come without its challenges in the past year.”
Now that his role is official, it’s time to get the ball rolling for the club group and its 135,000 members.
“It will give me a lot more clear air,” he says. “It allows me now to put my stamp of authority on things moving forward.
“When I first got into the interim role and looked at it, I thought more focus in the near future needed to be on reinvestment in our venues,” he explains. Among them are Birrong Sports, Bankstown Bowls, Acres at Greenacre and the newly-merged Bankstown Golf Club.
“Birrong has outgrown itself. It’s full and busy all the time, so whether that means expanding into one of those greens, we are looking at that. We are also looking at what we do at Baulkham Hills Sports, too, which was last renovated in 2008.”
Clancy is also looking to finalise several existing plans for other clubs in the group. Acres, at Greenacre, recently received DA approval for a deck on the front green and another kids’ area, fenced off for ball sports, including a basketball hoop.
“Internally, we are going to do a kitchen update, because it needs it, massively,” he says.
Other internal works include lifting the low roof and improving the gaming room with more alfresco space as existing members have urged. While pizzas from the woodfire are still on the menu, Clancy is looking to reinstate food from the two smokers.
“It’s very hard to get a skilled chef who can do that.”
At Bankstown Golf Club, the over-55s accommodation plan has been shelved since the merger as the site was on bio-diverse land and can’t be built on. The focus now is on viability of the proposed distillery and scale of the brewery, given several breweries have gone under recently.
“We are currently working on the master plan. That will be a process to work through,” he says. “We are still working on feasibility for the big brewery and distillery and what that actually looks like down there and whether it can fit,” he says, as part of the merger MoU included keeping the 150 car spaces.
“We are very engaged to do a very good food and beverage concept down there and a new clubhouse,” he says. That new clubhouse would also tap into a residential growth corridor, with Mirvac’s housing development of Riverlands Golf Course and Western Sydney University Bankstown Campus also being turned into residential accommodation.
“Golf is always going to be very important. It’s a beautiful golf course. [But] the facilities are tired and perhaps they [the old management] didn’t have the skills set to bring it up to the standard that they would be happy with.”
The club will going to the market with an EOI. Up the road from HQ, Bankstown Sports Bowls has had a facelift: new carpet, paint and furniture.
“It has really lifted it up to a standard we are quite happy with,” he says. Closer to home, the redevelopment of the three-storey concrete-cancer riddled car park across the road from HQ is still a long way off. A highline vision, working within the local council masterplan, has been proffered with first-responder and over 55s-housing plus retail and open parkland in the mix.
As busy as it gets, a thriving community club is a club that stays open, says Clancy.
“You can have a hard day here,” he explains, “but as I always say, ‘We are not closed’. People have short memories.”
With smaller clubs on the brink, the group’s administrative ability and resources offer merger solutions.
“I think amalgamations will be a big part of our future. I think there is a fair amount of consolidation in the industry,” he says of the upside.
This is an excerpt from a larger interview with Clancy in the current issue of Club Management. You can read the rest below.