There’s been plenty of finger pointing in the wake of the Newcastle Jets-North Queensland Fury postponement debacle but still two days after a final decision was made nobody has accepted responsibility or took accountability.
The main issue was the final decision to postpone the game was made once the Fury players and officials were well on their way down to Newcastle.
It was a complete waste of time, money and energy for North Queensland – who we already know a struggling off the field financially – and pretty ordinary for the A-League.
All things aside, surely that’s the main issue: North Queensland getting screwed over through no fault of their own.
On Tuesday, North Queensland chief executive officer Rabieh Krayem labelled the situation an “absolute disgrace” before taking aim at NRL club Newcastle Knights who sub-let the venue to the Jets.
“Whoever is in charge at Newcastle Knights for hiring out the stadium should be held responsible for this and if they worked for me, they wouldn’t any more,” he said. “To host a motocross event less than two weeks before an A-League football match is just mind-boggling.”
Of course, hosting a motocross event on a football pitch 11 days before a football game seems absurd, but surely everybody involved knew that when the decision was made.
Okay, the decision was made by the Newcastle Knights for their own purposes and the Fury would have been in the dark worrying about their own affairs up in Townsville, but surely the Jets and the FFA must have been awake to the potential risks of the situation.
Surely then they would have thought to inspect the pitch following the event a little bit earlier.
Nevertheless, in a brief statement issued following the decision, A-League boss Lyall Gorman revealed their inspection occurred after being prompted by the Jets on Tuesday.
“Following an alert from Newcastle Jets management today, FFA dispatched senior staff to inspect the playing surface,” he said.
“The need for player safety and player welfare is paramount and a decision was made that the ground was not acceptable for competitive football.”
There’s no doubt about the second part, the game needed to be cancelled, but the first part is damning.
I’ll commend the FFA for acting quickly once they received their alert from the Jets, but why had they no clue about this earlier? Why was it coming from the Jets?
And most importantly why was it left to the Knights to contact the Jets to tell them the pitch was not up to scratch?
The conspiracy theorists will say NRL’s Knights were trying to sabotage the A-League on purpose by giving the FFA and the Jets late notice. That seems unlikely, but whatever the case, the FFA gave the Knights an opportunity to do so.
If football is going to be taken seriously, then surely the A-League has to look after itself a bit better, rather than relying on opposition codes for crucial information such as this.
Knights chief executive Steve Burraston said in Wednesday’s Newcastle Herald he took advice from industry experts prior to the event that the damage would not be as significant as it is, but there were no guarantees.
Speculation the pitch may not be up to standard for the November 27 Jets-LA Galaxy game makes the fact neither the Jets nor the FFA were awake to the reality of the situation all the more alarming.
A brief visit down to EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday or Monday by the FFA or the Jets, then an equally brief phonecall up to Fury HQ would have cleared up this issue, so questions need to be asked why was it not done?
Newcastle Jets coach Branko Culina was not willing to weigh into a ‘turf war’, but said: “There’s no point in blaming anyone because that’s not going to resolve anything.”
But that’s the wrong attitude. Sure, in the short-term, what’s done is done and the game has been postponed.
But in the long-term surely the FFA must take a look at its procedures and take some control of these situations.
Then again, all we heard from the FFA yesterday was a brief press release revealing their decision to re-locate Sunday’s Jets-Heart game to Port Macquarie.
Just when you hoped a valuable lesson might be learned by the FFA and some accountability accepted, it seems they’ve swept this one under the carpet.
Or should that be the EnergyAustralia dirt.