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The Gold Coast disaster

by Sebastian Hassett on Feb 20, 2012

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What a mess at Gold Coast United.

If there was one decent thing left about that club, it was Miron Bleiberg. Now he has been turned on by Clive Palmer and understandably quit.

Their relationship was beyond repair. How could you possibly coach a club under such conditions?

That said, and while Miron certainly doesn't need the money - he's made his fortune in other walks of life - he would not have enjoyed walking away from a club he has helped construct from the ground up.

It's an ugly, sticky situation. And it will probably get worse.

Think about it. When Palmer cuts costs, it's to "ensure the future of Gold Coast United". When he won't offer more than one-year deals, it's to keep the players hungry and motivated. When he's avoiding buying senior players, it's to give his "dual championship-winning youth team" an opportunity. In most of his press releases, he makes out like he deserves a knighthood for his services to football.

It's a long bow to draw. One that became even longer this week.

Palmer has to come clean with what he wants for football in this country - he's often hinted a desire to increase (yes, increase) his funding into the game if the conditions are right - and what he wants for Gold Coast United.

At the moment, that club is a joke, and it's dragging the competition backwards when everything else is going forward. The sight of those empty seats at Skilled Park isn't just depressing, it's demoralising.

Palmer has another two seasons left on his license. And while his comments in the Courier-Mail at the weekend suggested Gold Coast are on the cusp of death, I think a vindictive, personal pride - and a growing vendetta against Ben Buckley - will see them stay.

"If we wanted to stay (in the A-League) and they (FFA) wanted to take it (the licence) off us, they'd all be in court, and Ben Buckley would run a thousand miles," Palmer said. "That's the reality of it. They can say what they like ... the A-League's a joke. I don't think I'll ever talk to Ben again in my life, to be honest."

But Clive being Clive, I dare say he's just as likely to come out at some point this week and reverse his comments. He's like that. He'll probably even backtrack on his view that "rugby league is a much better game".

Don't forget, this is the same guy who magnanimously threw open the gates for free to the Gold Coast public just 12 months ago as a 'thank you' gesture to the FFA for their World Cup bid. His mind changes like the wind when it comes to football.

However, the game can no longer be beholden to such whimsical behaviour. Palmer needs to make up his mind, whether he wants to commit to football or not. If he doesn't - but still wants to cling on to a franchise capable of dragging the league through the mud - it must be time for action.

Perhaps Frank Lowy should start to consider that day in court.