Palmer’s frustration is with the FFA’s financing of football

Tony Tannous Columnist

By Tony Tannous, Tony Tannous is a Roar Expert

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    Clive Palmer and his Gold Coast United club have been booted from the A-League AAP Image/John Pryke

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    There has been a rush to condemn Clive Palmer after his anti-football comments on the weekend, but stop for a second and you might just hear a man raising some valid concerns about the financing and governance of the round ball game in Australia.

    They are essentially the words of a man frustrated by the continuing struggle of clubs to make ends meet. Even if his reign as owner of Gold Coast United has been a laughing stock for the most part, he has been closer than most to workings of Football Federation Australia.

    He, as much as anyone, understands the financial constraints with which teams operate in the A-League.

    It’s unlikely he’s the only one frustrated by the framework and support provided by the governing body.

    Speak privately to any number of A-League club owners and you’re likely to get a similar take, perhaps not on the record, but certainly they’d be just as unhappy.

    Often the silence tells a tale.

    Palmer is not the type to keep quiet, and after a few years of bleeding, $18 million dollars by his reckonening, he has just about had enough.

    Other owners mightn’t be so public, but few, if any, are looking at a favourable bottom line.

    Recently Tony Sage has been spotted among some rugby league folk. Read into it what you will.

    Among Palmer’s biggest gripes appears to be the current TV deal with Foxsports, a seven year, $120 million deal that was signed after the competition’s first season.

    Break it down and it amounts to less than $18 million a season. Spilt that out among 10 clubs, at least nine national teams and the running of FFA headquarters and there isn’t much change left.

    At the time, of course, the FFA couldn’t say no to that type of money, but there’s an argument the length of the deal has held back the growth of the game since the initial post-Crawford buzz.

    I wrote more that 14 months ago that it would be in everyone’s interests if the FFA were able to re-negotiate a deal to have a slice of the A-League on free-to-air TV.

    In it, I quoted former A-League head Archie Fraser;

    “The competition needs to be promoted properly and there needs to be a renegotiating of the TV rights deal with Fox which allows a free to air component. While the contract isn’t up until 2013, deals are renegotiated all the time and if the FFA thought it could land a World Cup and only ended up with one vote, surely it can go out and tweak a deal which has left the code hidden from a great majority of the public.”

    Alas, nothing has yet happened on that front and the game waits, bickering and bleeding, almost limping to the next broadcast deal, hoping it brings a prosperous future.

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

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    The Crowd Says (98)

    • February 21st 2012 @ 4:15am
      Soccerbot3000 said | February 21st 2012 @ 4:15am | ! Report

      It may that it is in the long term interests of soccer to be on FTA, but what possible reason does anyone have to believe that doing so would lead to improvements in the cash flow positions of clubs right now?

      It strikes me that right now soccer in this county has a preponderance of people who are good at finding fault with things, but precious few with any practical solutions. Tony’s suggestions to renegotiate the deal might sound nice, but how on earth is that going to generate significant extra cash when the whole thing Fox is paying for is exclusivity?

      • February 22nd 2012 @ 2:13am
        Squizz said | February 22nd 2012 @ 2:13am | ! Report

        Fox should be retained to telecast live Australia wide. FTA can then be restricted so that they can’t broadcast live into the state where it is played.

        If for example you follow Sydney and want to see every game on TV you would need Foxtel. If you only had free to air then the FTA broadcaster could show the Sydney FC away games live and the home games on a 2 hour delay. Each state would vary accordingly.

        Fox gets exposure to a game that they hold exclusive live games to all matches. FFA are happier since they have FTA access. FTA gets content for the summer months. The owners are happier because the revenue pie is larger, the audience is larger and there is an incentive to attend live for those without Fox

    • February 21st 2012 @ 5:00am
      nordster said | February 21st 2012 @ 5:00am | ! Report

      on the one hand the game needs more revenue … agreed. Suggesting a game on free to air is all well and good, but it will actually lead to a reduction in revenue potentially. Unless a Clive type figure wants to make up a shortfall, or just go out and buy one of these networks and make a bid for the rights. Fox are holding the cards here, though long term having multiple broadcasters will help break that down.

      his comments on the structure of the league … ie independence … are great in theory though it would leave a young competition in the hands of folks like Palmer. I have issues with that as a fan of the game given some of Clive’s comments, not just his personal like or dislike of it. But his general views on things like “foreigners” in the game for example. His views are rather simplistic and i’d rather have FFA there as a backstop than leave the A-League to the wolves at this early stage. I totally agree the league needs to be independent and run by the clubs as a medium term aim though.

    • February 21st 2012 @ 6:18am
      The Special One said | February 21st 2012 @ 6:18am | ! Report

      The biggest mistake of the A-league has been the fact they are trying to run it as professionally as the AFL/NRL, without the revenues to match it and its cost a lot of money to the private investors.

      I’ve lost count the number of investors that have come and gone in the A-league which is not a good sign.

      Much like Super Rugby though, the A-league is destined to stay on FOX and its going to need a substantial increase in revenue to remain a viable competition in the future.

      • February 21st 2012 @ 8:02am
        Kasey said | February 21st 2012 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        I don’t knowTSO, I see where you’re going, but I don’t agree 100%.

        I think there’s a certain expectation amongst Australian fans that football ought to be a big-time sport and thus to a certain extent, I agree with the FFAs policy that appears to follow the old coache advice: “until you make the big leagues, there’s nothing wrong with at least looking big league. [of course the obvious constraint here is financial – and the FFA must be very careful not to spend itself into oblivion chasing an image rather than laying down concrete foundations for the future] but I have no concerns if the FFA goes about building the image of the game as a serious player at the table. I have concerns if the hierarchy is being paid exhorbitant sums and not delivering the results we demand. Darth Andrew at AFL gets paid squillions, but nobody can question the results he has delivered for that League, questions however abound about the effectiveness of Ben Buckley at FFAHQ. Questions that will only begin to be answered if he comes through in the upcoming negotiations regarding a new media deal.

    • Roar Guru

      February 21st 2012 @ 7:06am
      The Cattery said | February 21st 2012 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      you’re following Fozz’ lead and being far, far too easy on Clive – what he had to say last night was rubbish, none of it stands up to scrutiny, some of it barely made any logical sense, delivered with poor grammar and poor enunciation, and a smile at the end of each response to suggest: I’m stringing you blokes along, and there ain’t anything anyone can do about it because I’ve got the money.

      If anyone has a word for word transcription of what he said, put it up, I promise you all that on re-reading it you will agree that it’s simply a bunch of incoherent, rambling thoughts about nothing very much at all.

      • February 21st 2012 @ 7:21am
        Lucan said | February 21st 2012 @ 7:21am | ! Report

        Incoherrent at times, yes, but there were still a few valid arguments put forth. Am sure the transcript would also provide this.

        Not a fan of the character, or him being a pivotal player in a game he has no interest in (his justification of the “hopeless game” quote was a disaster), but to throw out his entire ramblings because 90% were rubbish also results in us throwing away the 10% that is worthwhile.

        FFA need to rebuke any of the mistruths told. Silence will be telling.

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2012 @ 7:49am
          The Cattery said | February 21st 2012 @ 7:49am | ! Report

          it’s not hard to hit the target on 10% of occasions when you have the scatter gun approach he had.

          Honestly, it seemed like he had been swatting up on soccer forums that day and was giving us a sample of the issues he had stumbled across, very few of them being connected in any way, and he feigned knowledge of the game – that’s the thing that struck me – surely Fozz would have noticed as well? Why didn’t Fozz take him to task in the same manner in which he took BB to task? He feigned knowledge of the game – he was publicly showing us that he in fact had very little knowledge of the game.

          Now fair enough, as Clive said, he’s the one who has put in his $18 mill, not us, not the panel, not Lowy, etc, etc, to a certain extent that buys you some air time to espouse whatever’s on your mine – no matter how incoherent.

          • February 21st 2012 @ 9:26am
            Realfootball said | February 21st 2012 @ 9:26am | ! Report

            Agree. And I think that the $18 million figure should be regarded with some skepticism.

          • February 21st 2012 @ 12:33pm
            trent said | February 21st 2012 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

            He feigned knowledge of the game – yes, but not very well. For instance, saying Melbourne ‘Hearts’ a couple of times and also wearing a Come Play scarf!

            • Roar Guru

              February 21st 2012 @ 12:45pm
              The Cattery said | February 21st 2012 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

              I agree – it was atrocious, that’s why I’m struggling to understand how he can possibly be getting support from some quarters.

              • February 21st 2012 @ 1:05pm
                trent said | February 21st 2012 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                It was a barely sane rant and nothing more. Flinging a lot of junk in the hope that some will stick (and stink).

                How many of his claims did he back up? For instance, did the FFAreally run Don Matheson out of Townsville and cause the break up of his marriage? Is Holger naming players based on who they know rather than how they play? (OK, today’s squad announcement might suggest this! But I doubt it very much). Why didn’t the panel probe him as they tried to with Buckley?

                The most outrageous part of the interview was Fozzie suggesting that Clive could do great things if he ran the A-League! Fozzie lost any shred of crebility with me with that comment – not that he had much to begin with.

              • Roar Guru

                February 21st 2012 @ 1:24pm
                Griffo said | February 21st 2012 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

                @trent Flinging a lot of junk in the hope that some will stick (and stink).

                I’m sure I heard early on Clive mention or hint that the FFA have an influence in the print media about articles and what they say and mis-quoting people…would have to see the footage again.

                A real LOL moment…

          • February 21st 2012 @ 1:11pm
            Axelv said | February 21st 2012 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

            Agree fully.

            Reading the GCU forums says it all, they don’t trust him in the slightest and they know he is lying, these are the people that his club was meant for…

      • Roar Guru

        February 21st 2012 @ 10:37pm
        dasilva said | February 21st 2012 @ 10:37pm | ! Report

        At least one person at SBS is willing to take on Palmer.

        Unfortunately he wasn’t at the interview that day.

        I agree with you assessment. It seems like the way Foster was acting that Ben Buckley recently brought the game to disrepute recently and not clive palmer.

        I have always been skeptical when people shout agendas at SBS but really that interviews was a transparent agenda more than anything else I’ve seen.

    • February 21st 2012 @ 7:44am
      Lucan said | February 21st 2012 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Palmer did plenty to contradict himself on his soapbox:

      * “No foreginers” on one hand, while suggesting we copy the Premier League model on the other.

      * He doesn’t like football, but is all of a sudden an expert on Olyroo selection.

      * GCU are in for the long haul and he is commited to Youth, yet he hasn’t actually committed to the large majority of his squad with most player coming out of contract at the end of the season.

      I think it is telling he is most all at sea when discussing actual football issues. Stick to the money side of things, Palmer, and bring in a football savvy GM to run the football component.

      Oh, and WHY does he keep dropping this State of Origin suggestion? No one else wants this, football doesn’t needs this.

      • Roar Guru

        February 21st 2012 @ 7:52am
        The Cattery said | February 21st 2012 @ 7:52am | ! Report


        some of these same things struck me as well.

        How could he possible look at the camera, hold hand on heart and say he is solely concerned about the welfare of his players when virtually all of them haye been left in limbo uncertain of where their next pay packet is coming next year?

        Most of what he said was chock block full of inconsistencies.

        • February 21st 2012 @ 8:57am
          Pete #205 said | February 21st 2012 @ 8:57am | ! Report

          Surely you meant: hand on “hearts”. Clive kept saying it and he has lots of money, so it must be correct!

          • Roar Guru

            February 21st 2012 @ 9:35am
            The Cattery said | February 21st 2012 @ 9:35am | ! Report

            heh, heh – that’s so true – he did say on at least two occasions!!

      • February 21st 2012 @ 7:55am
        nordster said | February 21st 2012 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        true, most of his points are very easily countered by people who know the game.

        it does seem like he’s suddenly just started paying attention to football issues, and is coming up with the sort of solutions you’d expect of someone like that. Take ‘state of origin’. I mean really the A-League is effectively state/city/region vs state/city/region. Add in the fact that we have an international sphere, and pretty much a state rep comp is superfluous.

        someone like Palmer is the exact reason why the league should not be run by the clubs at this point in time. Makes the league too susceptible to blow ins like Clive who think they have simple solutions, which turn out to be not so under closer scrutiny.

      • February 21st 2012 @ 9:03am
        Pete #205 said | February 21st 2012 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        Both interviews on TWG last night were deplorable and I’m again dissapointed by Foz. The one question I thought would definitely be asked of Clive was how he could possibly be commited to anything, team-wise, if he is offering up one year deals for players. And how does he have a moral leg to stand on since he is potentially stuffing up players careers for good?

        • February 21st 2012 @ 9:15am
          Lucan said | February 21st 2012 @ 9:15am | ! Report

          When Foz kept talking and apologising to Basheer who was waiting, I expected Foster to have some serious hard questions that needed answering. In the end it was Basheer putting Palmer’s own quotes back at him, and looking unimpressed with the p!ssweak responses CP provided.

        • February 21st 2012 @ 9:25am
          striker said | February 21st 2012 @ 9:25am | ! Report

          Yeah Pete they didnt ask the hard questions to Clive instead they grill Ben Buckley, the problem is the GCU they are not doing there part and FFA has every right to get rid of them especially with tv right coming up soon, this season the games have never been better most reams crowds are up 20-30 on last year as well as TV rating so all is not that bad in the A-League as clive suggests, he blames the FFA for his failure as his club is a joke.

          • February 21st 2012 @ 1:14pm
            Axelv said | February 21st 2012 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

            How funny was that, I found myself agreeing with Ben Buckley! LOL

    • February 21st 2012 @ 7:55am
      jamesb said | February 21st 2012 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      The one thing that concerned me is when Clive stated that the FFA have 5 officials (executives) earning 5 million.

      I just heard Buckley on radio. The interviewer asked Buckley 3 times If what Clive said was true, and Buckleys response 3 times was “well i know what the FFA officials earn, I don’t know where Clive gets his figures from”. But Buckley didn’t completely deny it, which maybe theres an element of truth.

      If Clive is right, than that’s alot of money been spent. I think Buckley earns more a million. Gallop I think earns around 750,000.

      Nth Qld Fury could’ve done with some help.

      • February 21st 2012 @ 7:58am
        nordster said | February 21st 2012 @ 7:58am | ! Report

        see thing with salaries is they needed to offer more to get someone like Buckley to take a career risk to run football. So this is a factor as to why he may be on more than Gallop for example. Same for O’Neill when he was at FFA i’d expect. Whether any of these blokes are worth the money is another issue, but they are pretty much on the going rate you’d expect.

      • February 22nd 2012 @ 2:22am
        Squizz said | February 22nd 2012 @ 2:22am | ! Report

        The figures I have seen is $3.6 million between 9 senior executives of which I think Buckley gets $1.1 million. So the rest share $2.5million between 8.

        The comparison to Gallop though is skewed. Gallop runs one competition the NRL. He has nothing to do with the ARL, the NSWRL, the QRL and the CRL. his job is closer to that of Lyall Gorman.

        • Roar Guru

          February 22nd 2012 @ 9:23am
          Griffo said | February 22nd 2012 @ 9:23am | ! Report

          If true then Palmer is not really comparing apples with apples then but that is how is wants it to come across.

          Why the FFA doesn’t rebuke Palmer’s claim, even without outlining all the budget details, only adds weight to Palmer’s statement.

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