One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

by Ashley Morrison on Jan 21, 2012

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Perth Glory have started 2012 in fantastic form, unbeaten in five games and recording two consecutive wins and a draw in three away games, results that since the first season of the Hyundai A League have been unheard of.

These results have given the club a serious chance of contesting the finals series for just the second time in A-League history. One would expect Perth, a city with a strong football following to be buzzing; yet sadly the mood is decidedly muted.

There are many speculating as to the reason why, but the cause is probably best encapsulated in a line from fellow blogger Francis Leach’s piece entitled “Welcome to the A-League Circus.”

Mr Leach says “Unless the A-League clubs deliver a dividend of involvement and inclusion with their local community, they are doomed to be empty husks, meaningless and irrelevant and eventually gone.”

Sadly Perth Glory’s supporter base has been eroded over recent years as many former fans no longer feel a part of the club, and have become disenchanted with the way the club sees itself within the football community.

One move that is currently causing major ripples with in the football community is the alliance that appears to have been brokered between the Perth Glory, and one State League club, Inglewood United.

With the State League being the second tier of football in Western Australia, one would have thought that the club should be trying to keep all state league clubs on side in order to draw players to the club, rather than putting all of its eggs into one basket.

What has stoked the fire of discontent is the way in which this arrangement has been put together. News broke of the possible alliance in May 2011, yet no details were forthcoming until late 2011, with the Pre-season Night Series just over a month away. It appeared this arrangement was to be bulldozed through at a time when there would be least resistance, because of the upheaval rejecting it would cause.

So what was the agreement? First it was to be a takeover, then it was to be an alliance, and now we understand that it is simply a sponsorship agreement. Albeit one that sees three Perth Glory staff implanted as coaches of the first team, reserves and Under18’s.

With many clubs rumoured to be owed development fees from Perth Glory for players signed from the state league, it is understandable that such a move would leave a bitter taste in many people’s mouths.

However it is the way that this deal has been put together that has angered the football community the most. There has been a lack of communication and consultation with the game’s stakeholders, it has almost been bullied into place, and many are still skeptical that it is a move that will ultimately benefit the game as a whole.

The Perth Glory hierarchy may see this as ‘involvement and inclusion with their local community,’ but no community likes a bully. Community is about pulling together and trying to make the environment that the community operates in a better one for all concerned.

Maybe this is why the team and the coaching staff are not being rewarded with the supporter enthusiasm and praise they deserve, because for every step forward they take on the park, off it the club takes a step back. Which is a very sad state of affairs for all fans of the game in the West.