Spirit use review to chase success

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 19-Jan-2018

The Spirit's on- and off-court operations will be reviewed. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

CALLS for future planning for the Bendigo Spirit have been answered, with the administrative body that oversees the club to conduct a full review of its operations following a wooden spoon finish.

Coach Simon Pritchard made it clear after the season he believed the review was needed to find a way forward for the club, and the Bendigo Stadium agrees.

Stadium CEO Nathan O’Neill announced the review last week, which he says will encompass all of the Spirit’s operations, from marketing to coaching.

A wide-ranging restructure has been undertaken at the stadium in the past 12 months, with widespread staff changes.

Despite the changes, it was a poor season for the Spirit, both on and off the court. 

Crowd numbers and game atmosphere waned to almost lifeless levels this season, but could hardly have been inspired by the level of play on the court.

Not helping matters was the league’s compromised schedule to accommodate the wants and needs of broadcaster Fox Sports, meaning Bendigo copped three straight Thursday night matches after Christmas.

While the tenure of Pritchard will be the main talking point for many fans, O’Neill said the issues within the club run deeper than the coaching staff and roster.

He said no stone would  be left unturned in the review, expected to take several months to run its course.

“We want to identify and focus on what is required to return the Spirit to once again being a dominant WNBL club on and off the court,” he said. 

“We will benchmark ourselves against the leading WNBL clubs, with the aim of rising to their level.

“We need to identify what success means, set a deadline to achieve it, and work out what needs to be done between then and now to make it happen.”

He admitted the Spirit had been treading water financially for several years.

Pritchard has said that the worst thing the club could do was spend to get to the top, preferring a slow build to success.

O’Neill agrees, saying the review would be a guide to return to the top over the next decade, and include how to contend with the “aggressive approach for success” of other clubs.

“The review will be a guide to return to the top,” O’Neill said.


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