After a turbulent weekend of speculation and uncertainty for South Melbourne, the club has released an official statement fundamentally denying claims made by ‘FTBL’ that the NPL giants are guilty of wage theft.
The statement begins, “South Melbourne FC is aware of an article released at 5:30pm Friday 12 October 2018 by Clement Tito on FTBL.com.au, published by nextmedia Pty. Ltd. pertaining to matters between the club and current and former players/employees.
“Whilst the club avoids making public comment regarding these matters, the club provides the following information in the interests of accuracy and transparency.
“In circumstances where players have breached their contractual obligations, the club will continue to work with the players and the PFA to resolve any dispute.”
In reference to the specific case of former South Melbourne player Liam McCormack, the club denies McCormack’s allegations that they are yet to pay him for his time at the club, and they were forthcoming with evidence to substantiate their case.
“The club received a request from Liam McCormack to be released and the club agreed to the mutual termination of the contract to allow the player to play more regularly. The club has reviewed its records pertaining to the mutual contract termination with Liam McCormick and can confirm no amount was owing at the time it was signed,” the statement said.
“The club is disappointed by the comments made by Liam McCormack given the assistance provided by the club and the agreement made to release him early from his contract.”
In response to the accusations levelled by former staff member Despina Donato, the club responded by saying, “The club complied with all its obligations to Despina Donato in November 2017 and the club has co operated fully with enquiries from the Australian Taxation Office in that respect. The club always maintains its commitment to ensuring all of its workers are paid their lawful entitlements”
Perhaps the most damning point made in the statement was regarding the journalist who broke the article, Clement Tito, with the club claiming that “On two occasions over the last week the article author Clement Tito spoke to club President Leo Athanasakis.
“On both occasions, Leo offered to open up the club books to demonstrate appropriate payments being made and to show any associated documentation he wanted to see in relation to any of the claims and allegations he was making. On both these occasions, Clement declined this opportunity.”
There is little doubt that this story has not yet run its course, with South Melbourne stating that they will now be considering their legal options.