Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Fool's Gold

Given all the glowing publicity surrounding the new Gold Coast United franchise early in the season, including a cloying puff piece on Channel 9's 60 Minutes, this makes particularly depressing reading.

Yes, stadium deals are tricky things. Sydney FC, for one, suffered from an onerous deal with the SFS (Aussie Stadium, as it then was) in the first A-League season, one which was largely responsible for the loss the club made in 2005/06. Brisbane Roar, too, have had problems aplenty with Suncorp.

But if the Skilled Park deal is forcing Clive Palmer to take such absurd, counter-productive steps in order to stop the cash haemorrhage, then one has to wonder what on earth Palmer and his cohorts were doing getting into such a deal in the first place.

The ticket prices at the club are obscene by Australian standards, and given that one of the promised benefits of membership (see here) was free public transport to the ground, members who will be deprived of this (to the best of my knowledge) under the 5,000 cap have the right to be mightily peeved.

It is another salutary lesson for the A-League as a whole: lone, messiah-style investors, particularly those with only tenuous links to the game, are a mixed blessing at best. Plenty of pundits were frankly fawning over Palmer only a few short months ago, but the demeanour of the man throughout has been that of someone savouring a new which might be dispensed with in short order.

As for the supposed ructions in the dressing-room, it is no secret that Miron Bleiberg is a handful to work with, and Paul Okon - a prickly character himself, if his recent history is any guide - could well jump ship before long. There may be concerns, too, over Jason Culina's faltering form; his fluent performance in the season opener against Brisbane seems a long time ago now.

All is not lost. The team is still riding high in the league, and there is plenty of residual goodwill towards one of the new franchises which most neutrals are desperate to see succeed, for the sake of the competition. But a compromise agreement on the Skilled Park deal needs to be made pronto, and Archie Fraser should take to heart the lessons of dealing with a pugnacious new owner with little prior interest in football.

Particularly gauling is that pre-season Brisbane season ticket holders from 2008-9 were offered a 20% discount in 2009-10 Gold Coast tickets.

And now the decision by the Roar board not to accept FFA help is in contrast to Gold Coast's successful backmail.

I think Brisbane fans, last year the 2nd largest in the A-League, have a right to ask why the FFA hasn't pushed aside its Board and started forcing the club to serve its customers. After all Brisbane's potential is at least 3x the size of Gold Coast.

People seem to have forgotten that Gold Coast boycotted the opening of the A-League.
It's been a very strange season up on the Gold Coast. Lots of drama and its still only November!
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