THE TRUTH: AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CARAVELLA FAMILY. A LONG BUT IMPORTANT READ.
As you might know, we recently sent out a statement regarding the operation of FNQ Fives, the five-a-side tournament we started back in 2015. We came up with the concept and business model while Zenon was still playing in the A-League. In June 2015, we registered the business name and started looking for locations in Cairns to eventually build our own facility. This was before we even started training at Edge Hill with the academy.
We agreed the club would receive and control all proceeds of the tournament as a goodwill gesture from ourselves – we didn’t feel comfortable profiting in this manner off a not-for-profit club and with the intention of us ultimately “re-homing” the tournament to where we eventually moved, we thought it was a fair compromise that would benefit the club greatly.
Our discussions were always with the Club President and we believed wholeheartedly that all funds being received for FNQ Fives were allocated and disclosed in a crystal clear and transparent manner as any ordinary person would when dealing with a not-for-profit club.
And while it might seem odd to some that we are issuing statements based on what happened a few years ago, we would like to clarify that it was only when the former club president – who later became a trusted employee of ours – departed our workplace we made concerning discoveries. We found emails in his work account dating 2019 where we (“The Caravella camp”, as we were described) were vilified for receiving a substantial amount of money across the four years of FNQ Fives at Tiger Park using “volunteer labour”. This statement was made by the current club secretary and followed a long thread of emails from the committee clearly unaware how/where the proceeds for the tournament went.
To say we were personally devastated to see these emails only three months ago was an understatement; we just could not understand how for four years the club itself was not aware we had given the total control of the proceeds to Edge Hill United and were blindsided at the disdain directed towards us. After all, not only did we not personally benefit from the tournament, we put significant money, resources and profile into it to make it a success.
ANZ BANK – FNQ FIVES
This discovery was, understandably, alarming to us. It became clear that the then president had used our business name with his own personal bank account and upon questioning the bank as to how he could do this, they advised us that the “account name field” can have anything when transferring money, as long as the BSB and Account number was correct.
If that wasn’t enough to totally destroy us, we then discovered that in the Edge Hill United FC club minutes, there is an entry in 2016 with the following:
“The committee agreed that an off-season five-a-side would commence this year from October to December with final dates to be decided. The committee agreed to rent the fields to FNQ 5’s for xxx per night for 10 weeks with all bar and canteen proceeds going to the club and player registration fees going to FNQ 5’s”
To reiterate, ZenKat family trust own FNQ Fives. The minutes have incorrectly stated that our business earned the proceeds of this tournament and from my understanding there is no documentation ever clearly stating the recipient of the income was the former president.
It all started to make sense. When you combine these false and misleading minutes with the payment requests falsely bearing our name as the account holder, it became clear that all signs led to us making the income, as late as September 2019, four years after the first FNQ Fives. Who knows how much resentment from within the committee and outside Edge Hill United built over those years.
This of course led to many, many discussions with the executive committee of Edge Hill United FC starting in July this year. To say the conversations were disappointing is an understatement. We were asked “what we wanted from this” and accused of “being under severe financial pressure”, implying we were bringing this up now because we wanted money. These were just a few of the accusations directed at us, among others.
How extraordinarily offensive. We never wanted the money then, nor do we want it now.
All we wanted ever was some accountability for the fact we were widely judged (and to a degree condemned) for profiting off this tournament using not only the labour of volunteers but the resources of a not-for-profit club. And while you, reading this, might have not judged us, I can tell you there were many that did. I know this because of the phone calls and emails myself, Zenon and Angelo have since received. Influential people from other clubs have said that this perception created a stain on our reputation and for that I am extremely saddened.
While the former president has finally disclosed it was he that received the tournament income, what he hasn’t explained is why:
– It was not ever revealed in the minutes that he, as the then club president, was receiving the income. A “verbal” discussion is not only insufficient when in a committee position but it was clear by the emails in 2019 that this “verbal” disclosure was not clear enough.
The former president also says CFA knew the registrations were going into his account in the latter years. There are many things wrong about this statement:
– He has now admitted that we did not know from the very beginning the financial arrangements of the tournament. Why would you not disclose that you were receiving the income to the tournament owners until 2018, four years after the first event? To clarify, we only were officially aware he was receiving “an” income from the tournament during his own contract negotiations for his new position with us at The Grounds. We question whether he would have revealed this otherwise.
– Despite us knowing then he was receiving an income, we did not know it was going into a personal bank account with our business name as the “account holder” We were of the firm belief EHUFC were aware to the very dollar what was being received by FNQ Fives and did not even think to question that the former president wasn’t completely transperent.
As I write this, Edge Hill United have just released another distasteful statement with very specific and clear reference to a “police investigation” initiated by us that they have been “cleared” of. This police complaint only commenced after it was clear Edge Hill United were not acknowledging our concerns – despite the written and damning evidence we had at hand – and after legal advice. The police have came back to us and said that in order for there to be a “crime”, there has to be a victim. While Edge Hill United are saying they are not victims (as the money was intended for them), and are content that the former president received this money in this manner, there is no crime. But the police were very quick to say that despite there being no “crime”, it doesn’t mean there is no “wrongdoing”.
To see this kind of behaviour occurring from within a not-for-profit club that represents hundreds of members is beyond concerning. Add to that, I do wonder why the current club secretary does not seemingly have a problem with the former club president ‘making a tidy sum off volunteer labour’ (as he accused us of in 2019) now the truth of who has actually profited has been revealed.
How EHUFC now answer the members questions – which no doubt they will have – will be a direct reflection of the culture and governance of the club.
Lastly, we want to thank the many of you who have supported us throughout this ordeal. You have no idea how much it has meant to us!
Yours in football,
© Caravella Football Academy 2020