Success in the sporting landscape can be measured in many ways. Whether its membership numbers, attendance figures or premierships, it all depends on your opinion of what defines success.
Collingwood have the largest supporter base in the AFL, setting an all-time record with 57,408 members in 2010. They also average the highest attendances, but in regards to on-field success, Collingwood has only won one premiership in the past 50 years.
Carlton can claim to be the most successful club in AFL history who along with Essendon has a total of 16 Premierships. Over the last ten years, Carlton has also ‘won’ the wooden spoon three times, so do we still judge Carlton a success despite recent years of failure?
If the question was asked which teams are considered the most successful in the past decade, Brisbane and Geelong would immediately come to mind. Brisbane managed to win three consecutive premierships between 2001 and 2003.
Geelong has featured in the last three Grand Finals, winning two premierships.
During this same period, Port Adelaide had a top four finish in five of those years, were minor Premiers for three consecutive years, Runners-up in 2007, and Premiers in 2004. But how well will their success be measured, particularly compared to Brisbane and Geelong, when they have only one premiership to their name during this time?
This brings us to the Gold Coast Suns.
Next year in the 2011 AFL season, the Gold Coast Suns will enter the competition.
The AFL has suffered criticism regarding the decision to hand the Gold Coast the competitions 17th license.
Majority of the football public favoured, and still do favour, Tasmania as the more deserving and logical choice for any expansion. The AFL however was determined on the Gold Coast and thus began the establishment of the Gold Coast Suns.
Entering a competition and trying to be competitive is difficult for any new team, so concessions should be expected. But the generous concessions awarded to the Gold Coast, is something that has not been seen before.
In the 2010 Draft, Gold Coast will receive picks 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15 in the first round, as well as having access to one uncontracted player from each of the 16 other clubs.
There are still many unknowns about the Gold Coast. Which players will they sign? What crowd numbers can we expect? How many games will they win next year?
One thing that is guaranteed however is that no matter what the answer to these questions, the Gold Coast Suns will be a success. The AFL has all but assured this.
The team could, and probably should finish the year in the top half of the ladder. Crowds could be anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000. Managing both of these will be a great feat.
However, even if crowds are low, and wins are hard to come by, the clubs ability to snare highly rated players such as Campbell Brown, Nathan Bock, and if as expected Gary Ablett, then the team can claim success anyway.
If desperate for a claim, the mere mention of the Suns in the media in an NRL-loving city will be enough for the AFL to declare the team a success.
The AFL has given every advantage possible to the Gold Coast to ensure that no matter which way you judge them, the team will be considered successful. All so the AFL can justify itself.
Good luck next year to anyone trying to criticise the AFL’s decision to bring in the Gold Coast, when the AFL have made it impossible for the team to be anything but successful.
Winning an AFL premiership is not easy, and is certainly not handed to you on a silver platter. Unless it seems you are the Gold Coast. It would appear a premiership is now theirs to lose.
So in the next few years, if the Gold Coast is there that last day in September holding the premiership, at least try to act surprised.