St Kilda has become the first AFL club to appoint an overseas based director to its Board with the appointment of Wellington based Liz Dawson.
Ms Dawson’s impressive governance credentials span a three decade long professional and non-executive career in trans-Tasman business and sporting organisations which will strengthen the link between the Saints and New Zealand.
St Kilda has hosted games on Anzac Day in Wellington for the past two seasons and is set to return to the New Zealand capital again in 2015 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.
Ms Dawson joins the Saints board as a replacement for Victorian Supreme Court judge Jack Rush who recently resigned from his Club directorship due to his judicial responsibilities.
“Liz brings an extensive background in sports administration and governance to our Board while also giving us a distinctively New Zealand perspective,” Summers said.
“This appointment adds to what is already a diverse Board with a rich mix of business and sporting backgrounds.
“Having a New Zealand based Director will also give our club a stronger foothold in Wellington, where we continue to build our home away from home.”
Summers also paid tribute to outgoing director Jack Rush.
“We are enormously grateful to Jack for his contribution to the club and we look forward to continuing to draw upon his support, albeit not as a Club director during his tenure as a Supreme Court judge.”
Ms Dawson has had more than 30 years of experience in senior executive and governance roles. Her new position on the St Kilda Board will be combined with roles on the Boards of New Zealand Cricket, the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Rugby Super 15 team the Hurricanes.
Ms Dawson is also a trustee of Wellington’s Westpac Stadium and has previously served on the Board of the Central Pulse (Central Regions Netball Ltd), the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association and the South Australian Greyhound Racing Association.
Ms Dawson’s sports administration background includes work on the successful New Zealand bid for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and roles with Rugby League teams New Zealand Warriors, North Queensland Cowboys and former Super League team Adelaide Rams where she served as CEO.
The Saints have completed a review of their New Zealand match this year, and talks are underway with the AFL and Wellington City Council to grow the game in 2015.
One option on the table is to play the game during the day as a way to increase attendance after 13,409 fans saw the Brisbane Lions win this year’s Anzac Day clash at Westpac Stadium.
“We’d like to get more people attending the game, not just from Melbourne but also from domestic cities in New Zealand, such as Auckland where there is actually quite a good AFL footprint,” Matt Finnis said.
“We’re also putting a strategy together around how we link in with the centenary of Anzac Day next year and the opening of a new Australian war memorial in Wellington on the same day.”
St Kilda’s opponent for next year’s Anzac Day match is yet to be confirmed.
In 2013, the club made as much revenue playing one match in New Zealand as it did playing eight games at Etihad Stadium or two games at the MCG.
The Saints have a strong recruiting presence in New Zealand, with Joe Baker-Thomas and Giovanni Mountain-Silbery holding international scholarships.