New Victory CEO will face fresh challenges

Whoever replaces Ian Robson as CEO at Melbourne Victory will have to hit the ground running as the club looks to finally put in place an academy headquarters, develop its infrastructure and become competitive on a regular basis in the Asian Champions League.

Robson is stepping down at AAMI Park just before Christmas to take up the post as CEO of Rowing Australia, bringing down the curtain on four-and-a-half years at the club.

Victory threw him a lifeline after he stepped down as CEO of Essendon when the AFL club became embroiled in the supplements saga.

A vastly experienced administrator who also worked with AFL club Hawthorn, NRL team Auckland Warriors and Sports Scotland in the UK, Robson will now add an individual Olympic sport to his portfolio.

Richard Wilson, a Victory shareholder, investor and board member, will take over on an interim basis while the search for a replacement begins.

Wilson previously held the full-time post of managing director at Victory for two-and-a-half years until Robson took up his position in the winter of 2013.

The club will test the market to see who might be available, but an obvious front-running internal candidate would be current Chief Operating Officer Trent Jacobs. He has worked his way up the management tree since he joined Victory almost a decade ago from AFL club Richmond, for whom he worked for almost five years.

Victory has been the A-League's best supported and one of its most successful clubs since its inception, but it does not face a number of challenges, not the least being to sort out its infrastructure.

It has announced plans to establish an academy headquarters at Footscray to host matches for Youth League, W-League and National Premier League teams along with a program focused on junior development. But so far nothing has eventuated.

Victory's lack of an academy base may be starting to affect its capacity to recruit the best juniors in the state.

Rivals Melbourne City has a purpose-built administrative and training headquarters at Bundoora, where youngsters from the youth teams and the women of the W-League train alongside the senior men's team.

City can also sell the dream - however difficult it may be to attain - that players developed in Melbourne, if good enough, could eventually find their way onto Manchester City's books.

Aaron Mooy, the current Socceroos midfielder, did just that - although he never played for City before being transferred to Huddersfield Town and was not developed by the Melbourne club.

At the weekend City's youth team hammered Victory's youngsters 9-2 in a youth league derby - the sort of humiliation that does illustrate a gulf in class that Victory is not used to experiencing.

The club is also determined to cement partnerships around the world with bigger clubs, perhaps to replicate the kind of pathway that City can offer in a bid to attract the cream of local talent. This is another task the new CEO will need to come to grips with quickly.

This story New Victory CEO will face fresh challenges first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.