Western Sydney is most definitely a place where A-League football needs to be. However the case of the Fury still lingers bitterly in the mouths of many football fans.
The A-League is certainly a unique beast. Hot on the heels of Gold Coast being kicked out of the competition, for admittedly, other reasons than money, it is announced Western Sydney will join the league. Funded entirely by the game.
Such a decision comes on top of the move to disband the North Queensland Fury. The club was considered too big a financial risk for the FFA to fund for the 2011/12 season and therefore wiped off the face of the earth.
I do concede Western Sydney is a bigger market than North Queensland but I cannot be comfortable with the choices the FFA has made. The fall of the Fury is one that will be bitter in the hearts of Australian football people for a long time.
Whilst there crowds were small and their team unsuccessful there was a vibrancy and personality to the Fury that Gold Coast never had. It’s the same passion and identity that sees the Heart and Phoenix be strong, even though their crowds aren’t huge.
The Fury needed persistence and investment but the FFA chose to abandon it. Now after completely stuffing up the Gold Coast they choose to fully fund a team from Western Sydney.
Money isn’t something FFA has been great at handling recently. The debacle that was the World Cup hosting bid cost taxpayers millions of dollars and as a result of this earlier in the year they had to get more from the government.
It is such a shame that money couldn’t be put into North Queensland. The fact that they now are prepared to put it into Western Sydney makes it blatantly obvious that Ben Buckley, Frank Lowy and Lyall Gorman simply didn’t believe or have any faith in the community up there.
In my opinion the world game is the only football code and probably sport (excluding cricket) that can be a truly national game. Yet if the FFA sends out messages like they did dumping the Fury but supporting Western Sydney certain parts of the community will become disenfranchised.
It is encouraging that $8 million was secured to go into grassroots development for Western Sydney football. This will ensure a supreme base of community infrastructure to support the new team.
Furthermore, giving the fans a chance to pick the culture, colours, logo and other aspects of the new team is a great idea. This proves the FFA has learnt from previous disasters.
However nonetheless I still mourn the loss of North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United.
The FFA must understand that what is more important than money is community engagement and proper management structures. They need to get this right or else Western Sydney may not be the success that it should be.