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Appetite for soccer merger

A merger between Cobram’s two soccer clubs has never been more likely, but according to club presidents no firm actions have been planned.

ROB HENSON June 18, 2014 3:36am

A merger between Cobram’s two soccer clubs has never been more likely, but according to club presidents no firm actions have been planned.

Cobram Soccer Club president John Ventri said during the years there had been ‘‘a bit of talk’’, but momentum for the merger was now growing.

‘‘I would say we’re a lot closer now than we’ve ever been,’’ he said.

‘‘I think at both clubs, people have come to the realisation, it’s too hard with two clubs in Cobram, the resources aren’t there.’’

Ventri said a lot of the off-field ‘‘rubbish’’ behind the local rivalry had finished.

‘‘People have matured a bit more and are over all the rubbish,’’ he said.

‘‘The rivalry still exists... I think now it’s more to do with the sport on the field.

‘‘That’s not to say that it’s definitely going to happen, but there’s a better chance now than ever before.’’

The president said it was ‘‘getting harder’’ to raise sponsorship.

‘‘In a small town, you look at the number of clubs around, they’re all targeting the same businesses and it’s harder to get any sponsorship.’’

While there are plenty of juniors coming through the ranks, most leave the area for further education or employment, he said.

‘‘That’s where we run into trouble in a country area, this isn’t just a soccer issue, but all sports in general.’’

Cobram Victory Football Club president Tony Startari said the rumours of a merger had been around for 10 years, but there was recent talk of holding a meeting.

‘‘It’s very early stages, there’s nothing new. We’ve gone down this path four other times, it was the same story — merger talks, then nothing,’’ Startari said.

But the Victory president said the climate was right for the move, with ‘‘not enough players at the senior level’’.

‘‘We’re very strong at junior level, but for various reasons a lot drop out in 15s to 18s age groups,’’ he said.

He acknowledged there were less resources available to pay for a successful team.

‘‘To be competitive costs a lot of money, to be successful it costs a lot more; $50000 to $200000, depending on how well you recruit,’’ Startari said.

‘‘There’s no real line in the sand on price, if you recruited really well in the past, it can be done very cheaply.

‘‘Even chasing $40000 a year, that’s hard work in a small country town.’’

Startari said in the past seven years seniors squads had reduced until this year was ‘‘the bare minimum’’.

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