There is no doubt that Gold Coast owner Clive Palmer’s outburst at the weekend was damaging to football, but if we take the glass half full approach, it may hopefully be just the jolt the game needs in Australia.
If we are all honest how many of the owners of A-League clubs are dyed in the wool genuine football supporters? In truth very few, and that is apparent within five minutes of conversation with them. One owner has actually claimed to have supported five different clubs as a boy to various media outlets; How many true fans switch clubs as regularly as they change shoe size?
“The Hyundai A-League is a Billionaires club for Millionaires” is how one short- term investor put it, and as time passes his summation is bang on the money.
Let us be honest with ourselves, if the majority of these owners could buy a Rugby League club, A Rugby Union franchise or an AFL franchise would they have purchased an A-League club?
As the English Premier League has proved, far more due diligence needs to be done by the game’s governing body into the motivation behind these wealthy individuals buying into football. If it means delaying expansion of the A-League in order to secure its future by ensuring that those who come on board understand the game and are there not purely for their own publicity purposes, then so be it.
To lose two clubs within the first seven seasons of the A-League is nothing short of a catastrophe, and if we include the acceptance and subsequent withdrawal of the Western Sydney bid, it is an even greater blow to the game moving forward.
It is time that the fans found voice and demanded that people are held accountable for bringing our game into disrepute. Such backward steps must also make the Federal Government, who has supported the game beyond the call of duty, question their loyalty, as they too become implicated.
It is time we looked at who was at the helm when North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United were accepted into the league. Who felt that the time was right for expansion? Who was in charge and accepted the bid from Western Sydney?
In baseball it is a case of three strikes and you are out; one has to wonder how many more strikes fans of the game are going to have to witness before the right decision is made to replace the man at bat.
It is time for the fans to find voice, as they should have when FFA chose to endorse Sepp Blatter for another term as FIFA President after the debacle of the World Cup bid.
Clive Palmer was correct when he said “What I don't like about football is that everything's based on who you know. None of it's based on how you perform.”
Football is very much run and influenced by a small group. Fox Sports are gagged to a certain extent as they are deemed to be ‘partners in promoting the game,’ so cannot often say what the person sitting in their lounge room knows to be the truth.
Rupert Murdoch started the style of reporting that influenced the way people thought, in order to get the outcomes he desires. The same is true in a lot of cases with the reporting on football. The media has the power to influence the future of a coach and who his successor will be.
Sadly those few who choose to speak out against the powers that be find themselves very much on the outer, accused of sniping. If we cannot acknowledge our mistakes as we move forward and learn from those mistakes football will remain a second tier sport and the Crawford report will have been for naught.
It has always been a game for the people, not for a select few with money or power. We must never forget that. Clive Palmer may move on, but we must ensure that we find the right people this time around to replace him.