Don’t mention “the war” in western Sydney

The_Wookie Roar Rookie

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    Phil Gould wrote an article in The Sydney Morning Herald which deals with the what he calls the AFL’s desire to “obliterate the NRL” in western Sydney.

    While he makes a lot of good points in the article, he is way off base with one particular point.

    I don’t believe the AFL is out to destroy the NRL or A-League in Sydney or the Gold Coast. The AFL will have looked at the western Sydney region and worked out that in a city of five million people and one AFL team, after 30 years and good membership and crowd figures, they could probably put another team in there.

    The fact that it’s a burgeoning potential area that every code has talked up since the AFL announcement is something that appears to have been glossed over by many sporting groups over the years. The AFL would know that while league and union converts will be welcomed, they are not the be all and end all for the new clubs.

    There are many people who follow no code or barely have an interest in sport who the AFL are trying to reach. There are AFL followers who don’t follow Sydney who will get on board with the new team because they are a new team. This has already been seen in the Gold Coast experience.

    It’s a simple matter of it being the right time; we’ve got the right money, and Australia’s largest city cannot have a single team uncontestedly holding the AFL banner, when smaller cities like Adelaide and Perth already have two.

    The figures added up in terms of television rights and, so far, in terms of support. The clubs unanimously supported the expansion plans. The league simply took the opportunity because it could afford to.

    “The war”, as Gould refers to it, isn’t against the NRL, the FFA, the ARU or countless other interested sporting acronyms. It’s an ongoing battle against the failures of the past.

    Both Swans and Lions endured numerous hardships including poor ventures into private ownership, disastrous financial dealings that sent both clubs bankrupt a number of times, all while trying to carve out a niche with little support from a vaguely interested VFL/AFL administration of the day.

    No, my friends, the AFL battles to make sure these mistakes are not made again – not just for the good of the new teams, but many AFL initiatives in these areas will also help the older teams in the area.

    “The war” appears to be largely a media creation, although a number of league administrators have brought up the issues from time to time. The AFL Commission has had nothing to say on the matter.

    This is a commission that weighs in on everything AFL related, that hasn’t even mentioned the apparent war it’s supposedly fighting with the other codes.

    The AFL don’t need to win a war to be the number one sporting code in Australia, on almost every benchmark. Besides rural television viewing and total playing numbers, the AFL are already number one. AFL initiatives are being copied or applied to to almost every other football code.

    Destroying league and soccer in Sydney and the Gold Coast won’t change that, and these codes are even now some way away from threatening the AFL’s position in the sporting landscape.

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    The Crowd Says (53)

    • August 9th 2011 @ 4:19am
      GoGWS said | August 9th 2011 @ 4:19am | ! Report

      the Gould article is paranoid rubbish at best, and that’s if you grant that he was genuine in what he wrote…I actually don’t believe he believes what he wrote in that article…. he’s just banging the drum to sell a few papers for smh, and of course he’s compulsively tees off at Gallop and the NRL so this article was overdue because he hasn’t had a shot at them recently…. Gould is to the NRL what Masters is to the AFL – they are little more than annoying and irrelevant white noise in the background….know-nothings both of them…. neither has the slightest idea of what they are talking about when it comes to the AFL/NRL and every time they open their mouths on the subject they make that abundantly clear…every single time..

      • August 9th 2011 @ 11:37am
        voodoo people said | August 9th 2011 @ 11:37am | ! Report

        Some of you AFL types have missed the subtle true message of Gould’s article.

        Gould was responding to an interview Gallop did a few days earlier, where Gallop claimed everything was hunkie dorie in Western Sydney, the result of a junior accademy, the clubs, the stars and the moon. It was a gushing piece about how great the NRL is and how great Gallop is as the fearless leader.

        Gould’s article shouldn’t be taken as a flamitory anti-AFL article (even if it does come across to AFL fans that way) – he was taking a pot shot at the NRL administration, especially Gallop, and using the AFL as a scapegoat.

        Gould hates the NRL admin, and has done since 1998. He was attacking what is wrong within League and using a “war” line to do so.

        • August 9th 2011 @ 4:55pm
          Jaceman said | August 9th 2011 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

          I agrree Voodoo – hes the Fairfax Sun-herald vehicle to whip the NRL but noticeably the weekday SMH has been quite friendly to the NRL this year poosibly because they are currently doing a deal with News Ltd..

          • August 11th 2011 @ 11:05am
            voodoo people said | August 11th 2011 @ 11:05am | ! Report

            LOL look at what has happened today with Gallop and Gould exchanging furious emails.

            Was I right or was I right? This has nothing to do with AFL (even if AFL types think it does).

            This is just the same old stuff: Gus Gould vs News Ltd / NRL / Gallop / Anyone else

    • August 9th 2011 @ 4:51am
      Fake ex-AFL fan said | August 9th 2011 @ 4:51am | ! Report

      Whilst there is an element of competition between the NRL and AFL in Western Sydney, this war analogy really is getting out of hand. Consider the following statement from Gould:

      “The AFL has parked itself at Blacktown, the fastest growing area in the country. In doing so, they have strategically cut Penrith off from the rest of the Sydney NRL clubs.”

      It conjurs up images of AFL roadblocks on the roads into and out of Blacktown, along with an AFL no-fly zone where any NRL aircraft are shot from the sky as they attempt to reach the beleagured garrison at Penrith. I think we need to get a little perspective here. Kids in Western Sydney are being offered a choice – some will take to AFL but plenty won’t. Same with the fans – some will become supporters of the Giants but most will stick with their NRL team, or continue to follow soccer, basketball or whatever else takes their fancy.

      • August 9th 2011 @ 5:10am
        GoGWS said | August 9th 2011 @ 5:10am | ! Report

        Exactly….I think GWS would be thrilled to develop a core supporter base of 20-25K loyal fans who regularly come to games, and initially I think the target I heard was 15-20K… these numbers are very modest and even if achieved how could such a small number possibly threaten NRL clubs…the sky is not going to fall…RL will be fine…

        • Roar Guru

          August 9th 2011 @ 7:15am
          The_Wookie said | August 9th 2011 @ 7:15am | ! Report

          AFL was aiming for Gold Coast crowds of 20k. So far this year Gold Coast crowds have averaged 19,486, or pretty much spot on the money. Im sure they’ll set a realistic target for GWS crowds somewhere near this if not less.

          • August 9th 2011 @ 7:46am
            Football United said | August 9th 2011 @ 7:46am | ! Report

            10 000 would be reasonable for any sydney team

          • August 9th 2011 @ 12:42pm
            clipper said | August 9th 2011 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

            I would suspect 10-15k would be a more realistic target. Western Sydney is a different demographic to the areas where the Swans crowds come from and RL is entrenched in WS, where it is not around the east and inner city. Still, I think they will get a few followers around the hills area and Canberra, so that may swell the numbers.

    • August 9th 2011 @ 4:55am
      Johnno said | August 9th 2011 @ 4:55am | ! Report

      Why would the AFL not want to destroy NRL, or rugby union,. How does having both these codes alive and well and popular, in NSW and QLD help the AFL develop. Rugby League and Rugby Union are natural competition and enemies to Aussie Rules, so logically speaking if you want to win or be NO 1 or stay No 1 you want your competition eliminated or staying at No 2, or signifianctly weakened. So I think Gus Gould’s article made a lot of logical sense to me in my opinion at least regarding the threat AFL poses to Rugby league and rugby union in sydney’s west. They have a lot of money to spend not an everending amount but a lot. And rugby union is doing nothing for western sydney rugby union if the performances for the Parramatta 2 blues or penrith EMus are an indicator. but west harbour seem to do okay sometimes. But really the ARU should really be looking much harder than the private school system and rugby league players for talent. And so many pacific islanders out in western sydney that love rugby union so don’t abandon them.

      • August 9th 2011 @ 4:57pm
        Jaceman said | August 9th 2011 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

        The media groups want competition betwen the codes because the codes will spend money advertising in their publications/stations to push their code..You wouldnt expand into WS unless you had the Tele on side….

    • August 9th 2011 @ 7:47am
      Rough Conduct said | August 9th 2011 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Those who think that the AFL does not want to destroy the NRL are simply naïve. Of course they do, the AFL is not about niche markets, they are about mass participation, media saturation and billion-dollar broadcast deals – they are not comfortable playing second fiddle to anyone. If they truly believed in this argument of having a presence, providing pathways for the kids – why develop a second team in Sydney? Don’t the Swans already provide this? The AFL is out to destroy the RL – and I am not even an NRL supporter, it is clear for all to see, Hunt and Folau are both glaringly obvious testaments to this. The AFL don’t want there to be a war – that’s why they try not to mention it and talk down such a situation, if there is a war that means the NRL is fighting back; something the AFL do not want.

      • August 9th 2011 @ 8:02am
        Fake ex-AFL fan said | August 9th 2011 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        You’re confusing heartfelt desires with actual objectives. I have no doubt that the AFL, NRL, ARU and FFA would all love to be able to click their fingers and make all the other sports in Australia go away, leaving the whole country as exclusive territory. Much as BHPB would love to be able to make Rio Tinto disappear and become the sole major supplier of iron ore to China. That doesn’t mean they have this as a serious strategic objective or ever expect it to happen.

        If a single AFL team attracting 20K crowds in an area with a population of 2.5 million people represents an existential threat to Rugby League in the area, then it has bigger problems than Kevin Sheedy and a couple of poached players.

        • August 9th 2011 @ 8:53am
          Rough Conduct said | August 9th 2011 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          If focussing investment into the most populous areas of RL heartland while at the same time poaching high-profile RL stars is not an attempt to achieve a strategic objective then I don’t know what is. Your response proves my point, the AFL will continue to talk down any threat to the NRL because that is the best strategy, no threat means no counter-attack. Also, pretty sure BHPB made a serious attempt to acquire Rio last year, it was unsuccessful but such an objective is definitely possible – the BHPB board certainly thought so.

          • August 9th 2011 @ 9:16am
            Fake ex-AFL fan said | August 9th 2011 @ 9:16am | ! Report

            Yes they did try to buy Rio, but that’s a little different to simply making them and all their assets disaapear, which was the point I was getting at. Anyway, it’s probably not a great example as neither the AFL or NRL nor most of their clubs are publicly traded. Getting back to the point at hand, I still can’t see how a single AFL team could possibly threaten the existence of the NRL, it just doesn’t seem plausible. I acknowledge that the AFL is trying to expand in the area, but that’s not the same as seriously trying to ‘destroy’ the NRL. Please talk me through a realistic scenario as to how that could happen.

      • August 9th 2011 @ 4:58pm
        Jaceman said | August 9th 2011 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

        There are 9/10 NRL teams in Sydney and now 2 AFL teams – how can the AFL destroy NRL – bizarre??

    • Roar Guru

      August 9th 2011 @ 8:08am
      The Cattery said | August 9th 2011 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      Rugby League attendances in Sydney show that there is a massive market gap there for the AFL to fill.

      I’m confident that the Giants can attract 15,000 per home game, without one single League fan being lost to the game.

      It’s the same with junior participation. There’s plenty of scope for Sydney kids to try out aussie rules, one season, half a season, maybe two or three seasons, I honestly doubt it is going to have an impact on any of the established sports.

    • August 9th 2011 @ 8:09am
      punter said | August 9th 2011 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      This author is very naive, AFL only has a presence in 1 country & even in this country where it’s no 1, in two of the biggest markets it’s just a niche sport. Forget about expanding to other countries, if they pump enough money in it they may get Cook Is or something, but that’s about it.
      Any expansion needs to be within Australia & it’s obvious that with the expansion into the Gold Coast & Greater West Sydney, this the first steps to what long term aim of the AFL for total dominance in this country & I see no issue with this goal. We all want our sport of choice to be the best.
      Don’t be fooled by this softly, softly, we would be happy with 15K – 20K to start with in the greater west, the AFL fans are very local & the expats will come out in numbers for the GWS. Look how aggressive they are in their approach with the signing of League players & buying the Blacktown council

      • Roar Guru

        August 9th 2011 @ 9:44am
        The_Wookie said | August 9th 2011 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        NSW Cricket paid the same amount as the AFL did for the Blacktown development. Maybe they are in cahoots. And its hardly buying the council to pay part of your own development.

        I wonder if the NRL fans got so used to the “one team for a major city outside of Sydney” ie. Brisbane that anything that varies from that MUST be construed as invasion. Never mind that Adelaide and Perth have noth got smaller populations and both already have two teams. This is about growing the game, and it can be done without destroying league.

        Folau and Hunt, who may turn out to be good players in the long run, are all about two things: One. Marketting, both can reach audiences no name AFL footballers couldnt in a 150 years of trying. Two. Its convicning other players that there are actually other sporting options besides rugby league if you live in NSW and QLD.

        • Roar Guru

          August 9th 2011 @ 9:57am
          mds1970 said | August 9th 2011 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          The AFL and Cricket NSW aren’t quite “in cahoots”, but it’s not uncommon for them to work together on ground projects. Blacktown Olympic Park and also Bruce Purser Reserve at Rouse Hill are a couple of recent examples which have been jointly funded by cricket and AFL.
          It makes sense for them to do so – they have a common interest in ensuring any new sporting facility is oval rather than rectangular. And with cricket occupying the ground in summer and AFL in winter, they can build a case that the facility will be used year-round, but won’t clash with each other.

        • August 9th 2011 @ 11:45am
          punter said | August 9th 2011 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          I am not knocking their approach, their expansion policy for the AFL is NSW & Queensland, there is really no real other option. They, the AFL, have the money, flaunt it. But please spare me this ‘convincing players that there are actually other options besides RL if you live in NSW & QLD’.
          Sydney has already got 4 football codes, yes we have RL, but we also have RU & Football, both have a long history in these states & the Swans have been here 30 years, most people are aware of the option of Aussie Rules. we already have one of the most diverse cities in the world with own sporting options.
          This is a aggressive move by the AFL accept it, even be proud of it, but also accept that the RL will not just sit & accept it, they need to defend their turf, this is not just a niche team like the Swans, they are also attacking the grassroots.

          • Roar Guru

            August 9th 2011 @ 4:09pm
            The_Wookie said | August 9th 2011 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

            Just how many players have made the switch from rugby league or union to soccer? or vice versa? Several Queensland recruits in recent times have come from a soccer background but you dont hear the same level of paranoia from the soccer community.

            Every code should want the best athletes they can get. If you dont, then you shouldnt be in the business of modern sport.

            Yes its aggressive, but its not the same as a war. It was the right thing for the code at the right time, commercially, financially and rationally.

            • August 9th 2011 @ 8:49pm
              punter said | August 9th 2011 @ 8:49pm | ! Report

              So Wookie, we both agree, every sport wants the best athletes, this is where the war exist, getting the best athletes, so you have to understand why Gould wants to defend the greater West from AFL. It would be even better if Gallop got on the front foot.

              • Roar Guru

                August 9th 2011 @ 8:51pm
                The Cattery said | August 9th 2011 @ 8:51pm | ! Report

                No, not necessarily best, most appropriate athletes.

          • August 9th 2011 @ 5:52pm
            Pockman said | August 9th 2011 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

            Punter, yes AFL is not worldwide, but don’t go dribbling that league is the dominant rugby code, everywhere else in the world people like union more plus union is now an Olympic sport, so please, please don’t go saying league has a presence worldwide.

            • August 9th 2011 @ 8:46pm
              punter said | August 9th 2011 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

              Pockman, AFL is not worldwide, yes, Rugby League has 3 countries, so they too are not worldwide, never did I imply they did.

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