Say goodbye to Gold Coast United

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Former Gold Coast United coach Miron Bleiberg is understood to be heading up a second Brisbane A-League bid. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

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    “The A-League is a joke.” There, in a nutshell, is the problem of getting into bed with the devil.

    We talk about the need for football people to run our clubs and Clive Palmer has made it palpably clear he is not one of those.

    Palmer’s outburst in yesterday’s Sunday Mail may have been extraordinary, but surely it was also calculated.

    It was as considered as the decision to appoint a 17-year-old rookie as captain was calculated.

    Just as the slashing of the wage bill at the end of last season and the signing of players to one-year contracts was calculated.

    Just like getting offside with a proud and clearly competent coach like Miron Bleiberg was calculated. Did Palmer want Bleiberg to quit as coach of the Robina side? I think so.

    Why else would he have publicly belittled a coach who led his team into successive finals series?

    Perhaps because he thinks the A-League is “a joke” and men like Bleiberg are expendable.

    “I don’t even like the game,” Palmer told the Sunday Mail’s resident football journalist Marco Monteverde. “I think it’s a hopeless game. Rugby league’s a much better game.”

    So why invest time and money into the sport in the first place? Is it because Palmer the businessman thought it was a sure-fire way to score points in football-mad Asia?

    Or like the archetypal playground bully, did Palmer simply feel his status as Queensland’s richest man would buy him instant sporting success, only to turn around and throw a tantrum because things haven’t gone his way?

    How else can United make a statement saying Bleiberg has been “disrespectful,” only for the club’s owner to say two days later he thinks football is a “hopeless game?”

    One rule for Bleiberg and another rule for Palmer? Absolutely.

    Because Palmer has always wanted to run his football club as an oligarchy. And he’s always been frustrated at the thought of having to play by somebody else’s rules.

    One gets the sense that when the FFA politely dismissed some of his less helpful suggestions – the football “State of Origin” idea springs immediately to mind – Palmer was genuinely shocked.

    And while it may be cliché to suggest Palmer doesn’t hear the word “no” too often, surely there’s some truth behind it.

    Because every time Palmer has been criticised for the way he runs Gold Coast United, he has reacted by doing or saying something even more outlandish.

    The only question remaining is why?

    Why deliberately antagonise and provoke such a backlash if there are still two years of his A-League licence to run?

    Having decided Gold Coast United is no longer his preferred plaything, is Palmer simply burning all his bridges before relinquishing control?

    That’s what I think is happening. Palmer said it himself.

    “The club is a very small, insignificant portion of what I do,” he said yesterday.

    I can’t see one of those projects being Gold Coast United once the 2011-12 campaign is over. Whether FFA can afford to take over at yet another club is another matter entirely.

    For now, the competition has a real problem on its hands.

    Clive Palmer has made it clear he has no interest in the A-League.

    Football fans – starting with what’s left of United’s support – should make it clear we have no interest in having him.

    Because the sooner Palmer is hounded out of the A-League, the quicker we can move on from the sorry mess that is this club inexorably bound for extinction.

    More opinion:
    Adrian Musolino: It’s time to cut Gold Coast United loose
    Luke Doherty: A-League’s Palmer feud expected to drag on

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (135)

    • February 20th 2012 @ 7:15am
      Roarchild said | February 20th 2012 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      From Clive Palmer via Twitter

      “I like soccer but dislike how it’s run. Overpaid FFA execs also giving Fox Sports cheap TV rights. Free-to-air TV should be able to bid”

      • February 20th 2012 @ 11:13pm
        Soccer Fan said | February 20th 2012 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

        If you actually all read what Clive said, it mirrors what a lot of Australian soccer and A-League fans have been saying all along.

        A) Ben Buckley is a dud CEO
        B) Get A-League onto free to air tele
        C) What is the FFA doing to promote the game.

        Clive is staying until the A-League falls over in other words, get used to it.

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2012 @ 7:57am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | February 20th 2012 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      Mike you’ve raised some excellent “why” questions. What a shame Marco Monteverde, the journo from the Courier Mail didn’t have the foresight to ask those questions. Oh well, let’s hope Clive reads this article and responds.

      But, to get some insights into some possible answers to your questions, we can refer to this 2009 interview on 60 minutes.

      After spending many hours with Palmer, the 60 Minutes Reporter, Charles Wooley, reached the conclusion that:

      “Clive Palmer wants to make the world game, our game, to make soccer our national sport … (he) is determined to turn Australia into the world’s next soccer giant”.

      In that interview, Palmer said: “(Football is) a game that’s not based on violence, or breaking your nose or getting the other guy, it’s based on skill, and it’s a game where Australia’s ranked 16th in the world and, one day, we could be ranked first.”

      To give an indication of just how small his investment in the Gold Coast is compared to his other investments, Palmer observed that: “I spend a lot more money on replacing the tyres on my company’s trucks (than I do on the Gold Coast United football club)”!

      In concluding the interview, Wooley asked Palmer about his motivations for owning the GCU and Clive said:

      “I own it for enjoyment. We play very positive football. We try to score as many goals as possible, and we’re really saying to the people – the kids, everyone watching – If you’ve got it, this is your opportunity, this is your life, make the best of it.

      You saw the reaction we got from the crowd, and isn’t that satisfying to think you can stand there and there’ll be a couple of hundred people wanting to shake your hand because they’re happier than they were yesterday? What’s wrong with trying to make people happy?”


      • Roar Rookie

        February 20th 2012 @ 10:17am
        stam said | February 20th 2012 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Some good points,
        What has changed in such a short time frame for him to be so optimistic in that 60 minutes article to his recent outburst? Does he not see the potential that he once believed? Was he lying at the start? Is he just a big cry baby who is upset that things arent going exactly to plan?
        If you where to base his decision making on GCU you’d have to assume he isnt worth a penny.

    • February 20th 2012 @ 8:00am
      Kasey said | February 20th 2012 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      I think now it’s a case of containing the damage for FFA. FFA have to be prepared for the worst case scenario. I’ve wracked my brains and with some experience dealing with egotistical people, I think Clive has proceeded with calculated motives here. He can’t/won’t get his own way so I predict he’ll get vindictive and seek to cause as much damage to this insignificant league and ‘ hopeless’ sport. I guess I’m with Midfielder on this one, I perdict he’ll try to take down FFA before he leaves, but how? What is my prediction?…He’ll sucker the FFA in by kind-of playing nice and ‘graciously agreeing’ to fund GCU for another season. FFA will accept like a battered wife who knows her partner is bad for her but stays because he has the money. Then on the eve of the 2012-13 season, he’ll announce that GCU are pulling out immediately, giving FFA absolutely no time to organise a contingency plan and thus making football look completely amateur hour. Job done. The only alternative is to make such unreasonable demands of Clive (such as he pre-pay for the season up front,) or have a contract in place whereby breaking the contract is cost prohibitive for him…a problem when a bloke is worth billions and FFA seem incapable of writing a contract worth more than the paper it is written on.
      Going back to my battered wife analogy, FFA need to grow a spine and cut this dead weight lose from football. I struggle to find even one positive in the 3 years of Clive Palmer’s involvement in football in this country.

      He’s given 20-30 players a shot at pro football is the best I could come up with.

      Balancing that out are: he has completely poisoned the field on the Gold Coast for a future football team I think by alienating good football people (I’m thinking of the Beach and their ilk).
      He has provided the knockers with easy ammunition to use against the sport with a constant stream of bad publicity for a game and a league trying valiantly to grow a positive image in the wake of the SocAus/NSL legacy of semi-pro organisation.
      Overall a negative time for the sport. Surely it is past time for the FFA to lawyer up and cut loose the dead weight that is Clive Palmer’s involvement in football.

    • February 20th 2012 @ 8:23am
      Midfielder said | February 20th 2012 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Well said Mike but you get the feeling he wants to take those he blames down … FFA & BB … this guy loves to sue …

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2012 @ 1:36pm
        Griffo said | February 20th 2012 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        …or he wants to recuperate some of the money he has lost back when he leaves.

    • February 20th 2012 @ 8:24am
      jamesb said | February 20th 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      I suppose Lowy needs to be step in. Maybe he could talk to Palmer about relinquishing the final two years of his licence, and that Lowy would finance the Gold Coast club for a year or two until they get the right backers or consortium put in place.

      Its obvoius that Palmer doesn’t have much time or respect for Buckley, so Lowy has to take charge here.

      interesting story today from Ray Gatt about :

      “A PROMINENT eastern suburbs-based businessman has been approached by Football Federation Australia to head a high-powered consortium with the aim of having a western Sydney franchise up and running by next season. ”

      but at the end of the day, Palmer HAS to go.

    • February 20th 2012 @ 8:25am
      Chris said | February 20th 2012 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      All very well to say the FFA needs to cut him loose, but there is the small matter of a legal contract in place. As I’ve said in other posts, unless Palmer breaks one or more of the conditions of his licence, there is nothing the FFA can do. One thing might be a “bringing the game into disrepute” kind of thing. Does anyone know whether that’s part of the licence?

      • February 20th 2012 @ 8:32am
        jamesb said | February 20th 2012 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        Palmer has brought the game into disrepute with those comments, but the key thing is Chris as you mentioned, has Palmer broken one of those conditions in his licence if its included?

        If it isn’t included as part of his licence, than the FFA have only but themselves to blame

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