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St Kilda's blueprint for pre-2020 flag

Chris Pelchen announced detailed plans to return Saints to top of the ladder - ${keywords}
Chris Pelchen announced detailed plans to return Saints to top of the ladder
ST KILDA has outlined plans to win its second premiership before 2020 as part of a long-range strategic outlook that includes increasing membership, reducing debt and creating an "admired culture".

The Saints unveiled their "strategic framework" for 2014-2018 to the club's members and key stakeholders at their season launch on Thursday night.

The vision is to ensure the club is "admired as a competition leader in recruiting, player development and coaching" by 2018.

The plan is to deliver Grand Final success before 2020 – which will be the Saints' second flag after their sole 1966 triumph – and ensure the club is in the top four by 2018.

Captain Nick Riewoldt spoke at the launch, held at St Kilda's National Theatre, and mentioned the importance of the entire club working towards the goals laid out in the blueprint.
At 31, the skipper is realistic about his time left in the game but is encouraged by the past in regards to how quickly fortunes can change in football.  
"Incidentally, if we can get there a bit before 2018, that would be great," Riewoldt said.
"I'd like to play in a finals series before I hang up the boots.
"In 2002, we finished second bottom of the ladder and two years later, we were a kick off a Grand Final against Port Adelaide. Two years later.
"For the next nine years, we were the only team in the competition to win 12-plus games every year.
"From second last, that's a pretty mean feat and what that does show is things can change quickly and I implore anyone that loves St Kilda, let's make that change happen."
Still, the club is under no illusions about the immediate future, in particular, the next two years.

The Saints accept the next two seasons will be "very challenging", with director of football Chris Pelchen likening their current list position to that of Hawthorn in 2004.

The Hawks finished 15th on the ladder in 2004 with four wins. In the following two seasons, they finished 14th and 11th with five and nine wins respectively.

In 2007, the Hawks played in two finals and the following year won the premiership.

With a firm plan to rebuild through the national draft, which began this year when they traded to create three selections within the top 20, the Saints are confident they have the framework for a similar build and timeframe.

Free agency isn't on the agenda for the next two seasons but they expect to be serious players in the market in 2016.

They are also aiming to boost membership numbers significantly. By 2018, the Saints plan to have more than 50,000 Australia-based members, and a further 10,000 in New Zealand.

They have already extended their partnership with the Wellington Council to play one game a year at Westpac Stadium on Anzac Day for the next five seasons, and added their second New Zealand-based international rookie – Giovanni Mountain-Silbery - to their list this week.

The "Saints Marching Fund" has also been launched, which is centred on raising money for commercial and on-field success, much like Richmond recently did with the "Fighting Tiger Fund".

While there are no plans to leave their Seaford base, the Saints will refurbish Moorabbin into a football, community and retail hub.

The weekly "captain's run" training session will usually be held at the ground while the Saints' standalone VFL team – to be established in 2016 - will play there.

The returned presence to the club's spiritual home comes with a desire to establish two "Bayside embassies" as part of the growing presence in the region.

As the Western Bulldogs have established their footprint in the western suburbs, the Saints have been vocal in their aim to grow their supporter base "from Port Melbourne to Portsea".

The plan extends to the football department with coach Alan Richardson keen to ensure players such as Jack Billings are managed this season with the future in mind.

The much-talked about No.3 draft selection is no guarantee to play in round one as the Saints place more value on his long-term outlook than his immediate debut.

Rebuilding the tarnished culture is another key element of the plan. The restructuring of the club's executive and board has been significant, as has the installation of consultancy businesses Bluestone Edge and Leading Teams.

With president Peter Summers strong on the club having an "accountable" mantra, the aim is to build an "admired" culture on the foundation of respect.

CEO Matt Finnis will start in his role next month when his AFLPA responsibilities conclude.

The Saints will kick off their season on March 22 against Melbourne.

Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan