In July I spoke with Ben Sigmund about defending in the A-League.
A few days ago Football Federation Australia revoked Gold Coast United’s A-League license mainly due to Clive Palmer’s mismanagement of the club. All we’ve heard about is the battle between Frank Lowy and Palmer. But what about the fans?
There have been many jokes made this year about Gold Coast United’s fan base, and as we all know it’s pretty bad.
Their average crowd of 3,858 this season is by far and away the worst. Nonetheless, they still have some of the most loyal fans in the A-League.
A similar sort of comparison could be made with Fitzroy in the AFL in 1996. Sure, the two sides are at opposite ends money wise, but in terms of crowds and performances they’re much the same.
The AFL also won’t admit to this, but it’s quite clear they wanted Fitzroy out of the league, the same as the A-League and Gold Coast.
How would you feel if you lost your football club? It certainly won’t be easy for Gold Coast diehards to just trade their allegiances to Brisbane, despite the Roar’s good position on the table.
It will be harder for those who switched from the Roar. How much ribbing would they get from their mates if they switched back?
What Clive Palmer needs to realise is that the club was not just about him. What the FFA needs to realise is that the club was not just about Clive Palmer. A club is made up of the players, staff and fans.
The fans are an integral part of the club and ultimately, due to Palmer’s wrong-doing when he locked one of the stands a few years ago, they broke the club by not turning up.
Just like the loss of the North Queensland Fury last year, the A-League will lose some more fans. It’s fair to say the A-League expansion is a failure, with the exception of Melbourne Heart, which continues to grow.
It’s also expected that with the growth of New Zealand football the Wellington Phoenix may exit the league soon.
There is talk of a Canberra team entering the competition to fill Gold Coast’s position, and I think this is a good thing. Their W-League team has had good crowds and won the premiership this year.
But with Canberra as the exception, I don’t think the A-League should expand for many years yet. If they do and that team fails, the FFA could do football a lot of damage in this country. They just can’t afford that.