The Roar
The Roar


What can football do to save itself?

Roar Pro
21st April, 2010
1096 Reads

Don’t you like it when pretentious writers use some obscure foreign reference to start a “This is what I think about stuff” story that then doesn’t really make sense to the point and theme of the story?

I don’t like it, I love it!

So without any more waffling I present ‘esprit d’escalier,’ which translates to the wit of the staircase’, and usually refers to the perfect witty response you think up after the conversation or argument is ended.

It’s the answer you cannot make, the pattern you cannot complete till afterwards it suddenly comes to you when it is too late.”

So there you go you can impress your hipster friends with some French speak, while you eat that slow cooked meal at the trendy Lesbian cafe which you arrived with on your single speed bicycle.

What has suddenly come to late is that after five years football is not earning nowhere near enough what it is spending.

What must have been Frank Lowy, John O’Neil and Matt Caroll been thinking when they first negotiated the TV deal five years ago?

Especially when the deal was negotiated before the Socceroos scored their first ever World Cup goal, before they won their first ever World Cup game game and before they qualified for their first ever World Cup Round of 16 match.

Frank Lowy is Australia’s richest man and you don’t get that rich without being able to negotiate. However, the truth regarding football’s TV deal is that it pulled its pants down too early and left them down for too long.


When Harry Kewell scored that goal against Croatia to take the Socceroos into the knockout stages of the World Cup, Foxtel must have looked at the TV deal with big smiles on their dials while the FFA suits must have been looking down at their ankles feeling the breeze.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again, that John O’Neill’s best work for Rugby came while he was working for the Football Federation of Australia, having negotiated a deal that took the FFA’s biggest asset away from Free to Air and onto Pay TV, which has only a 25% take up of the Australian population.

Let’s look at the TV revenue numbers:
* AFL $780m for 5 years, or $156m per year
* Rugby League $500m for 6 years, or $85m per year
* Football $120m for 7 years, or just over $17m per year

Football can only spread $17m to its now 11 clubs. Dusting off the calculator, that works out to $1.5 million a club.

Some reports have come out recently that it costs $8m a year to run an A League club. Did anyone look at the expenses and revenues columns and see a big red number at the bottom of the page?

Some pundits have said that football needs to get a stronger foothold in the mainstream media. Don’t hold your breath.

The mainstream media will not give any favours to football.

They have other sports they need to peddle.


A recent Tim Cahill documentary features Timmy on the way to a Socceroos World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan last April. He is flicking through the sport’s section of the Sydney paper the Daily Terror and laments the lack of coverage of football.

After flicking through pages of Rugby League, Netball and Sailing he finally finds a Socceroos article, Tim holds up his hands in defeat and says: “what do we have to do?

So the mainstream media doesn’t care, crowds are dropping off, and the clubs are losing money. What can football do to save itself and shut up the prophets of doom?

All we can do is hope and wait.

First, we hope that the Socceroos do well at the World Cup beginning in June and that this reminds the Australian sporting public of the chaos, beauty and awesomeness that is football. And that this emotion and goodwill then flows through to the A-League.

We hope that Australia wins the bid the bid for the 2018/ 2022 World Cup and wait for the decision by the 24 man FIFA executive in December, then finally we wait until the new TV deal comes up in a couple of years that will hopefully secure the A-League’s stability.

Otherwise, I’ll be looking for the French phrase that translates to “we are f****d” (nous sommes baisés).