Should FFA cut the North Queensland Fury loose?

Davidde Corran Roar Guru

40 Have your say

    Robbie Fowler in action during the Newcastle Jets vs North Queensland Fury A-League match. AAP Image/Tim Clayton

    A few weeks ago, I wrote about the sudden collapse of Womens Pro Soccer side, the Los Angelas Sol, after just one season. The inaugural regular season champions paid the price for taking a “big spender” approach.

    The WPS’ administrators had the option to fund the Sol out of their own pocket for another season, but decided not to financially support a team that weren’t viable at the present time.

    As I wrote here on the Roar back in January, “the WPS’ future won’t be decided by the loss of the Sol. In fact they will most likely be stronger for it. The league is about to open its first purpose built stadium in Atlanta, welcome two new franchises and won’t be allowing club owners to make the same mistakes as Los Angeles’ did anytime soon.”

    At the time I also suggested this was a lesson Football Federation Australia could learn from. I didn’t expect the opportunity to arise so quickly though.

    North Queensland Fury’s continued financial plight took a turn for the worse last week when Don Matheson effectively withdrew from the club, leaving them without a major financial backer. For a team that was losing around AU$40,000 a week, that’s obviously dire news.

    While I’m certain Archie Fraser and the rest of Football Federation Australia would have been aware of this possibility for some time, it came as a shock to followers of the A-League.

    The Fury’s future has been left in the balance and the FFA have said they are ready to step in, again. Just like with Adelaide United. Just like with Perth Glory. Just like with Brisbane Roar. Just like with Gold Coast United. And just like with the New Zealand Knights.

    It’s a worrying trend. All this begs the question: should FFA save the Fury or cut them loose?

    As one writer wrote in the aftermath of the Sol’s collapse, “if women’s professional soccer is to survive in the long-run, it has to be because it’s sustainable, not thanks to charity from Uncle Phil.”

    Is the same true here?

    One key difference is that Australian sport followers aren’t used to sides or “franchises” picking up and moving on as is common right across the American sporting landscape.

    On the other hand, from a professional standpoint, it is very poor form to see players, coaching and administration staff finding their jobs in a state of peril. In that regard, the Fury’s plight can’t be allowed to become a trend and I’m certain the PFA will be watching closely.

    If the club’s future has been jeopardised, then you have to wonder about the wisdom of signing Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler on a large marquee contract.

    I know hindsight is a great luxury, but with the club losing nearly AU$40,000 every single week, by removing Fowler’s salary from the equation the club would have cut that loss by half.

    However, the Fury did offer decent value on the pitch more often then not in their debut season (though when they were bad, they were terrible). Even beyond the signing of Robbie Fowler there was plenty to get excited about (David Williams for one), and I’d certainly like to see the Fury return to the league next season.

    Yet such emotions and desires shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way if the Fury’s continued presence in the A-League jeopardises the competition’s future.

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • March 8th 2010 @ 3:19am
      Ricky J said | March 8th 2010 @ 3:19am | ! Report

      No Davidde, some great players from bygone eras have come from North Queensland. Farina, Corica, Bolton, Langerak and Srhoj to name a few. Would be terrible to desert them.

      For what’s it worth, this incident may galvanise support for the club in Nth Qld, at least the local businesses there will back it.

      Having the Fury there with the Cowboys also blocks the AFL from entering there also.

      Don’t agree at all with dropping the Fury. The Phoenix maybe due to the political difficulty of having them in the League, but don’t drop the Fury.

      • March 8th 2010 @ 8:08am
        Timmuh said | March 8th 2010 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        I don’t know why people are always so keen to “block” sports entering. In the case of the AFL, Nth Queensland is decades away regardless of any other sport. The costs of running an AFL club are much larger than other codes, and prohibit being in regional areas such as Townsville, Cairns, Canberra or Hobart.

        I think the FFA needs to do everything it can to keep the Fury, not because of the AFL, the NRL or anyone else; but because the A-League can not be seen to be going backwards or it risks plunging into an NSL malaise (at least in they eyes of the media, and once that happens the reality soon follows), after finally lifting Association Football out of the joke it had become.
        Perhaps it was an expansion too early, perhaps its just the model of that club, perhaps Townsville can’t afford an A-League team, but the A-Leagiue can’t afford to be seen to have teams die. And, yes, the first NZ franchise did die, but that is a different look, simply because it was not Australian.

        • March 8th 2010 @ 12:35pm
          Ben of Phnom Penh said | March 8th 2010 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

          I tend to agree, Timmuh

      • March 8th 2010 @ 11:31am
        Hammer said | March 8th 2010 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        “Don’t agree at all with dropping the Fury. The Phoenix maybe due to the political difficulty of having them in the League, but don’t drop the Fury.”

        hmmm – drop a club that is one of the very few growth teams in the league, one that over 2 semis in the last fortnight has bumbed up the FFA coffers by close to $1.8m .. but keep a team that’s bleeding cash … some sound business sense there …

        • March 8th 2010 @ 2:25pm
          AA said | March 8th 2010 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

          I love it, “they’re generating cash for the FFA.” I’ll repeat a question I asked the other week – is FIFA’s motto “for the good of the game” irrelevant to the Phoenix because they have generated 2 games with income to the FFA?

          Do you realise how hippocritical you sound!

          • March 8th 2010 @ 2:42pm
            Hammer said | March 8th 2010 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

            What are you on about … I’m merely stating the the FFA would need their collective heads read if the were serious thinking of kicking the Phoenix out … and despite what your narrow mind might may think – the Phoenix are proving their presence is “for the good of the game” not just in NZ but also in Australia …

            like it or not they’re quickly becoming a success story of the HAL … something that’s not the case in respect to the 2 expansion teams … throw in the fact that Adelaide are basically for sale to anyone who can stump up some cash .. and the FFA must be thankful they’ve actually got some positive aspects to this season

            • March 8th 2010 @ 2:52pm
              AA said | March 8th 2010 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

              Adelaide has new owners, an Alan Yound led consortium.

              Check your facts before posting again.

              I’ll repeat it again, the development of football in NZ is not an Australian issue. They can look after themselves now. Australia is in Asia, and Oceania is not our problem anymore.

              I love your original comment about the Phoenix “providing $1.8 million to the FFA”. Yep, OK let’s praise them.

              • March 8th 2010 @ 3:01pm
                Hammer said | March 8th 2010 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

                Regardless of what you consider good for Australian football it’s obvious the FFA think otherwise – like it or not money plays a part in decisons being made -whether it be from gate taking in the finals series or chasing sponsorship and despite what you may think Canberra, Tasmania, Nth Queensland, GC won’t / or aren’t providing the same benefit that the Phoenix are …

      • March 8th 2010 @ 5:21pm
        Black Diamonds said | March 8th 2010 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

        Don’t know what this has to do with the AFL.

        As others have said – the AFL will not be putting any team in North Queensland for at least 15 years! So don’t bring the AFL into this equation.

        This is for the FFA to sort out with their own priorities. This next 9 months is really a pivotal period for the FFA.

        Asian Cup bid

        2010 World Cup – if the tourists don’t flock the long distances to South Africa it will not help at all wrt the FFA’s World Cup bid
        Also – Australia’s performance at the World Cup. The fact is – they are up against it and it will take a very good effort to get to the knockout stages. Personally, I can’t see it happening.

        New Melbourne Team launced into league – The Melbourne Heart. – Where will their support come from? The Croatian community?

        World Cup Bid – December 2010. It all comes down to this really, fail here and things might really get messy in the A-League

        2011 Asian Cup – Can we actually win this tournament that we promised to win 3 years ago and failed to deliver.

        2011/12 Season. New Sydney team. It will either be the dawn of a new era, or worrying times for the FFA. Hard to tell at this stage which way it will go.

        • Roar Guru

          March 8th 2010 @ 7:11pm
          Junior said | March 8th 2010 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

          can’t agree with the comment “fail here and things might get really messy in the a-league” with respect to the world cup bid.

          getting the world cup to australia would be a bonus and not a determining factor as to whether the a-league is a success. granted there are a stack of issues that the ffa has to face with respect to the a-league (crowds, expansion, playing standards, marketing, other codes, salary caps etc), but if they or anybody believes that hosting or not hosting the world cup will seal the fate of the a-league one way or another, then we are in serious trouble.

    • March 8th 2010 @ 7:26am
      Tifosi said | March 8th 2010 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      Should they be cut loose?

      One should argue they should never have been admitted in the first place.

      The FFA have dropped the ball with expansion in the A-league. This is what happens when you chase world cup bids instead of looking after what counts.

      • March 8th 2010 @ 1:48pm
        Ben of Phnom Penh said | March 8th 2010 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

        In many ways this is the crux of the argument. Was sufficient due diligence undertaken in the first instance when an expansion into North Queensland was proposed? If there was and it is simply a matter of a smaller club needing time to develop and this is part of the longer term vision of the FFA when the license was granted then there is nothing wrong with the Fury and it may just be an issue of unrealistic expectations from the owner. If the business plan has gone awry despite the good turnouts from fan base then there is a real issue that needs to be addressed. My gut feel is the former, however as I am not part of the inner machinations of the licensing arrangements it is difficult to say.

    • March 8th 2010 @ 7:37am
      Chris said | March 8th 2010 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      Starts looking a lot like the NSL if clubs are being created and culled every season.

      I refer you to this article written at the beggining of the season:

    • March 8th 2010 @ 9:36am
      whiskeymac said | March 8th 2010 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      some good players, some reasonable crowds for a club in its first season but a business model that lasted barely a season. the area didnt fail the club, it looks like the club collapsed for other reasons. whereas NQ may not be as solid a base as say Western Sydney or Canberra (FFA maybe dropped the ball on that one) the club has not been a failure. it is not the NZ Knights, it just didnt have the $ behind it that it needed. havent all the clubs lost money in the first few seasons? it takes a few years to get anywhere near a profit. i think the people who originally backed the club were caught out in this respect whereas clubs like Sydney and CCM have been forunate to have backers like Lowy, russian dude and Peter Trnbull who u/s the game cost money. Most, if not all the HAl clubs have had financial headaches at one time or another – inluding Brissy who also have had low crowds. do we drop them too?
      give the club another go but only if the right backers can be found witht he right structure for the club.

      on another note – some good players ready to be signed up by the new teams now…. malik, griffiths and williams come to mind.

    • Roar Guru

      March 8th 2010 @ 10:18am
      AndyRoo said | March 8th 2010 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      It all depends on the books which would show wether it’s possible to turn them around and the FFA should be taking a forensic accountant with them . The amounts rumored to be put in by the FFA and Matheson along with the Palmer sponsorship are quite large, yet their still leaving an unpaid stadium debt of 400k!
      If it’s all above board and they did lose such a huge amount of money then I really think their not viable and should be cut loose. There are however some unsubstantiated rumors that the amount put into the team isn’t as much as reported and that even some of the FFA money found itself used on other purposes. That would suggest they might be viable if run properly.
      I think we can only guess for now on the clubs true position but the same thing that hamstrings the club in not allowing them to shift some games from dairy farmers is what will likely see them stay in the comp for next season. For the world cup bid the FFA would be keen to have Dairyfarmers hosting an A league team to show it’s multi purpose. If the Fury fold the political will around developing the stadium for the world cup bid disappears.

    • March 8th 2010 @ 12:01pm
      Mick said | March 8th 2010 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

      The drama surrounding the Fury is concerning, but people have short memories. I’m sure some can all too easily remember when the Cowboys first started up in Townsville (1995), and the financial difficulties/inexperience that presented itself with for the first few years. Effectively, it took the Cowboys at least 6 years to change it’s business model (local ownership to broad-based professional with the help of News Limited) and generate a good level of community support and sponsorship in NQ. Ask anyone about the ‘bad old days’ of the Cowboys and they will tell you how dire it looked. Nowadays, the club is as strong as ever and regularly gets 20,000 fans to a home game. This process may be the same for the Fury, but it will be worth it in the long term. Have faith people. Quit the Fury bashing.

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