Enough Palmer, won’t someone think of the football?

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman 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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    Clive Palmer believes in “freedom of speech” but has no qualms doing business in a repressive regime like China. Such is the hypocrisy of the man currently dominating A-League headlines to the detriment of the rest of the league.

    Of all the headline-grabbing stunts Palmer has pulled over the past fortnight, it was hard not to chuckle at the sight of Gold Coast United running out bearing the slogan “freedom of speech” across the front of their jersies against Melbourne Victory.

    Mainly because the sentiment was so laughable – although it didn’t look like a stony-faced Ben Buckley was in on the joke – but also because the relentless Palmer just won’t give up on his campaign of faux-outrage and staged indignity.

    You’d think he’d be more worried that his side hasn’t won for an eternity or the fact barely 2,000 fans bothered to show up against a star-studded Victory (yes, it rained), but such is Clive’s dedication to the cause he was never going to let a mere game of football stand in the way of making his point.

    With all the doom and gloom surrounding Palmer’s dogged attacks on Football Federation Australia, crowds at this weekend’s games weren’t actually that bad.

    The Jets and Perth Glory posted respectable figures and Sydney FC are lucky more than two men and a stray goat show up during the dying embers of Vitezslav Lavicka’s often catatonia-inducing reign.

    Gold Coast’s pathetic crowds will never improve, while the worrying reversal in Melbourne Heart gates will surely have the FFA beancounters concerned.

    Why write about crowds? Because the football on the weekend was nothing to crow about.

    For me, the most depressing sight – more than the Gold Coast freakshow and the empty stands at AAMI Park – was the vision of Glory captain Jacob Burns goading Brisbane Roar attacker Henrique into committing a red-card offence.

    That a niggling destroyer like Burns stayed on the pitch while a creative talent like Henrique took an early shower just about summed up a forgettable round of action.

    Burns’ schtick is as old as the game itself but it’s still hard to know how to take a Glory side which installs him as captain, turns a blind eye to his incessant on-field indiscretions and then rewards him with a new contract.

    And for what? Burns’ most significant impact against the Roar – a thuggish elbow, a predictably spittle-laden rant and a theatrical fall to the ground – all came when the Glory were already 3-0 down against a far superior outfit.

    It’s a shame the only way certain teams can dream of stopping the Roar is by employing such a negative brand of football, but Perth’s performance on Saturday was largely in keeping with the vibe of the past seven days.

    Surely it’s with some trepidation A-League administrators view a table with the likes of Perth and the relatively one-dimensional (pass the ball to Paul Ifill) Wellington Phoenix finals-bound.

    It would be a shame if the 2011-12 campaign is remembered not for what happened on the pitch, but for the burgeoning public relations nightmare threatening to engulf the league off it.

    But at the moment it’s hard to focus on anything else.

    The football this weekend may not have been entirely uninspired, but it was hardly as engaging as what transpired off it.

    And that could be a problem for the A-League – one of many, it seems – because the media is concentrating ever-more on the Clive Palmer conundrum and it’s detracting from the rest of the league.

    If FFA executives wanted to prove their leadership credentials, now is the time to do so – lest the farce on the Gold Coast overshadows the remainder of the premiership campaign.

    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 (79)

    • February 27th 2012 @ 7:04am
      Antonio said | February 27th 2012 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      I was at the Gold Coast match (as a victory away supporter); no one in the media seems to have talk about how at about the mid way point the Gold Coast supports reviled a banner saying ‘FFA SAVE OUR CLUB’. It seems that even Gold Coast fans (the few left) don’t like Clive “Jabba the Hut”Palmer.

      • February 27th 2012 @ 8:01am
        Kat said | February 27th 2012 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        Antonio, given that thanks to clive the cameras all actually point away from the fans at skilled park, thats not a particularly effective way for the fans to be heard.

      • February 27th 2012 @ 8:43am
        JohnL said | February 27th 2012 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        Antonio, it was surprising that that banner wasnt confiscated. Apparantly, security were checking all banners and removing any that were anti-Palmer.

        And yet Clive wants freedom of speech.

      • February 27th 2012 @ 12:21pm
        Seven Nation Army said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        I watched the match on Foxtel and saw such a banner but it read “FFA Save GCU”.

        • February 27th 2012 @ 12:30pm
          Antonio said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

          Yeah same banner couldn’t remember the wording but you get the point

        • February 27th 2012 @ 12:31pm
          Antonio said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

        • February 27th 2012 @ 1:42pm
          Axelv said | February 27th 2012 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

          I also spotted it on TV, I think it was in and around half time.

    • February 27th 2012 @ 7:45am
      marc said | February 27th 2012 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      There is a rule in AFL named “Bringing the game into disrepute” if the FFA has a similar rule, surely it should be applied and hit this Palmer character hard as possible.

    • February 27th 2012 @ 8:12am
      JAJI said | February 27th 2012 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      ….and its astonishing the likes of Craig Foster and SBS have harped on how Clive Palmer is speaking alot of sense but are not mentioning AT ALL his shambolic running of the club in the last 3 years nor his comments that he hardly likes football and prefers Rugby League

      • Roar Guru

        February 27th 2012 @ 8:30am
        The Cattery said | February 27th 2012 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        Fozz’s stance is truly perplexing. It’s hard to imagine that he would be on the same page with some of Palmer’s more outrageous statements, and yet he has been supporting Palmer all the way.

        It’s possible that he sees Palmer as a way of destroying both Buckley and the FFA – but it’s hard to imagine how that could be a good move.

      • February 27th 2012 @ 8:57am
        Realfootball said | February 27th 2012 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        To use the vernacular, Foster really has lost the plot in recent times. He reminds me more and more of an unbalanced evangelical preacher. I’ve stopped listening to him, or reading him, as far as possible. He repeats the same tedious sermons time after time, and his confidence in his own intellect is nauseatingly misplaced.

        Yes, Barca plays wonderful football. Do we have to hear it every time he opens his mouth?

        His stance in regard to Palmer shows just how far he is prepared to go in accepting the devil himself as a friend if the devil seems to be his enemy’s enemy. The enemy, of course, is Buckley. Now I would have no problem with that it if was for sound reasons, but Foster’s antipathy for Buckley is based purely on the fact that Buckley isn’t a “football” man – and that isn’t enough.

        • February 27th 2012 @ 11:16am
          Antonio said | February 27th 2012 @ 11:16am | ! Report

          Realfootball you have it right 100%. In recent years I too have been unable to watch the world game because I know if I watch it all it will be is another Barca/ Sydney FC love fest orchestrated by Craig Forster like last weeks ep.

        • February 27th 2012 @ 12:42pm
          JAJI said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          Craig Foster in the 6 years O’Neil and Buckley have been at the helm has complained about there being no FOOTBALL people in the CEO position

          He never once has come up with a name from the football community to take the position has he? Not one. Never ever

          Not one individual to deal with Frank Lowy, the TV deal, Socceroos, the challengers from the other 3 codes, the challenges of a bias sporting media constantly fawning over the AFL and NRL, the agendas in the football media, the challenges with overseas clubs constantly poaching players etc etc

          Everyone loved the Sydney Rovers venture because it had football people like Charlie Yankos and Ian Rowden involved

          Well look what happened to that

    • February 27th 2012 @ 8:24am
      jamesb said | February 27th 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      I’ve lost respect for Craig Foster and SBS.

      The interview they conducted was weak and soft. Palmer was stringing them all along like simple fools.

      The sooner Palmer and Buckley are out of the game, the better.

      PS: SBS should NEVER get the socceroos or the A-League.

      • February 27th 2012 @ 9:01am
        Realfootball said | February 27th 2012 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        Agree on the “interview”. It was a disgrace. Either SBS’s team were incompetent or they were simply using the event to drive their own well known anti A-League, anti FFA agenda.

        I have great affection for the public man known as Les Murray, but SBS football needs a serious makeover and new faces. I don’t watch TWG anymore. Much prefer Fox Sports FC.

        • Roar Guru

          February 27th 2012 @ 9:10am
          Griffo said | February 27th 2012 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          I’ve been thinking that SBS needs another show. Something a bit panel like, without the regular heads you see on TWG, discussing A-League matters for 30 minutes.

          A panel with Scott McIntyre hosting with a media rep and some fan reps from the various clubs from week to week.

          An alternative is the format like Gruen Transfer/Planet on ABC: this format could be used to expand the supposed for/against format of Shootout for regular TV.

          Anyway, just some thoughts.

      • Roar Guru

        February 27th 2012 @ 9:19am
        Griffo said | February 27th 2012 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        Personally I think Foster has good things to say at times, especially on youth development. We all know his WC2010 moments were not his best.

        His articles in Sunday’s The Sun Herald can be good.

        The one on the weekend used the Crawford Report exclusively to advocate an A-League Commission in the here and now.

        What Foster totally ignored in my view was the Smith Report’s backing of a separate A-League body, but just not yet.

        This topic driven approach was also evident last week on the TWG, where Foster line of questioning was about FFA supplying club start up policies, something that he had written about in his TSH column the previous day.

        As a strong advocate of football in the country, his blinkered approach allowed him to miss other lines of questioning in the segment.

    • February 27th 2012 @ 9:02am
      Futbanous said | February 27th 2012 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      Thinking of the football,what about Besart’s first goal or his pass to Henrique for our first.
      All that is sublime about the game was on display there.
      Not so sublime is Jacob Burns. Some may think this guy plays tough,in my book he’s just plain dirty a massive difference.
      Craig Moore played tough .
      If I was really looking for sanctions in the game I would start with players like him.

      • February 27th 2012 @ 12:24pm
        Seven Nation Army said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        You should have seen Carlo’s pass to Arch in the dyeing minutes of the MV v GCU game.

    • February 27th 2012 @ 9:05am
      Realfootball said | February 27th 2012 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      On the Gold Coast issue: as a season 1 member who hasn’t been to Skilled Park for several years now because of the Palmer/Bleiberg/Mensink troika, I firmly believe that the area can support a viable club. However, it would need to be owned run, and coached by a new team. I also suggest that the brand (and this is an area I know something about) is irreparably damaged, and the club would need to be rebadged, with new name and new colours.

      I am first and foremost a Brisbane supporter and always will be, but I am a football supporter as well, and would certainly attend games at Skilled with the club under new ownership, and I would be surprised if many of the other “lost” fans did not feel the same way.

      • February 27th 2012 @ 10:07am
        Futbanous said | February 27th 2012 @ 10:07am | ! Report


        Given that what you say has merit (i.e. a new team with all Clive baggage eradicated) can be successful,what about the stadium deal?
        Is it still too much for any organisation to balance the books?

      • February 27th 2012 @ 10:11am
        Qantas supports Australian Football said | February 27th 2012 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        He hardly came from a wealthy family unless you think owning a local picture theatre in Melbourne is wealth beyond belief, but I guess you love telling porkies hey..


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