FFA’s Wild West: big on style, short on substance

John Davidson Roar Guru

By John Davidson, John Davidson is a Roar Guru

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    The FFA’s announcement today that there will be a new Western Sydney team in the A-League next season was big on pomp and ceremony but short on details and facts.

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on hand with a gaggle of local politicians, FFA heavies and some high-profile football figures to announce the launch of a new team at Football NSW headquarters at Glenwood’s Valentine Sports Park.

    It was a fairly impressive line-up, all eager to get a piece of a positive media event, and so was Gillard’s pledge of $8 million for football development in the west. Getting government funding is a good move, and so is the support of Football NSW.

    The announcement that $1 million will go to women’s football is also good news, as the new A-League club should definitely also have a presence in the W-League, especially at a time when there is speculation over the W-League’s future.

    Ben Buckley strode to the podium and talked big about the “time being right” and the “model being right” for a Western Sydney A-League club. There was mentions of a “major strategic investment”, and Mark Bosnich and Kyah Simon were on hand to give Gillard some football shirts.

    Amid the posturing came the claim that the new club: “will have a core focus on community engagement. The community will have a say in the culture, colours, name and logo of the new entity and we will explore a model that would allow for community ownership.

    In partnership with Football NSW, FFA will ensure the club is truly integrated in community football, schools programs and the elite player pathway.”

    Again, all good signs. The FFA seems to be making the right noises.

    But to an often sceptical football public – where is the details? How will the community have a say in the culture, colours, name and logo? An online poll? Direct mail to all football players in Western Sydney?

    Not to be completely cynical, but there wasn’t a lot of detail in today’s announcement. It seems that the FFA will be bankrolling the club, as no business people or other individuals have come forward. That is disappointing. No mention of potential coaches, CEOs, directors or playing staff.

    Will Western Sydney aiming to sign up what’s left of the Gold Coast United roster? Are their talks to bring a major Socceroo home as their marquee – like a Scott Chipperfield or Tim Cahill?

    Community engagement seems to be big on the FFA’s agenda for the new club, as it should be. But how will this be achieved? How many schools do they plan to visit in 2012? What connections with junior and senior clubs will they set up?

    Westfield Sports High School, located in Fairfield, has boasted more professional football players through its rank than I care to count – Harry Kewell, Jason Culina, Jacob Burns, David Carney, Alex Brosque, Danny Vukovic, Michael Beachamp , Musti Amini, Matt Ryan, Terry Antonis, Matt Jurman and Aaron Mooy to name a few. This would be a good place to start.

    So would engaging the major senior clubs in the area – Sydney United, Olympic, Marconi, Blacktown City, APIA Leichhardt etc. They continue to produce great football talent for little reward, and they are far from happy about this situation.

    The NSW Premier League launched a few weeks ago, boasting that more than 60 players in the A-League came out of the state competition production line. How will the FFA get these important clubs, some of them incredibly disenfranchised, back on side?

    Where this new club plays is another major issue. Should it be in the Olympic Stadium at Homebush? Parramatta Stadium? Blacktown? Campbelltown? A roving identity that plays at all of them?

    These are all questions that need to be answered. There is a long journey for Western Sydney’s A-League club to go on, and a good six months before the next season starts. I would say a large part of the Australian football family wants to see them succeed. Let’s hope the FFA can do it.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • April 4th 2012 @ 4:32pm
      Chris said | April 4th 2012 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – any professional sporting club needs three things to even think about being successful:
      Confirmed funding for several seasons (i.e. corporate support)
      Community support
      Quality planning and administration

      Nothing I’ve heard so far makes me remotely confident any of these criteria will be met for a second Sydney team to be ready to compete in the A-League next season.

      And here’s a hypothetical – say GCU had been travelling along OK. Would this announcement have happened? Of course not. Which makes a mockery of Ben Buckley’s claim that “this is the right time” for a second Sydney team.

      • Roar Guru

        April 4th 2012 @ 5:11pm
        The Cattery said | April 4th 2012 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

        with the prospect of going to 9 teams next season, and the broadcast negotions on the horizon – it’s definitely the right time!

        • Roar Guru

          April 4th 2012 @ 6:36pm
          Fussball ist unser leben said | April 4th 2012 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

          The rumour doing the rounds is that FoxSports is heavily involved with driving this venture. With a West Sydney team likely to match MVFC for support – in the stands & on the screens … FoxSports knows the importance of having a team in West Sydney.

          Currently, MVFC is 10% of the HAL supply market, yet accounts for 20% of the demand market (home ground attendances). Presumably, MVFC accounts for similar TV HAL ratings. A West Sydney team is likely to increase ratings by 20% next season – whilst FoxSports production costs will remain the same.

          • Roar Rookie

            April 4th 2012 @ 11:54pm
            ItsCalled AussieRules said | April 4th 2012 @ 11:54pm | ! Report

            With nine teams and a bye every week, Fox would have had a shorter season, lower ratings and less games and advertising space to sell.

            There is no doubt West Sydney was the preferred option with FFA and all their major sponsors and business partners.

            It will be a very interesting 6 months for football watchers to see the team, name, logo and players emerging and how successful this club will be.

            Of course there are also those watching and hoping it will fail – why?

    • April 4th 2012 @ 6:14pm
      hunter sports said | April 4th 2012 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

      its too early to just say, yeh this bloke is our coach or yeah we’ll sign chippo

    • April 4th 2012 @ 11:42pm
      Paul said | April 4th 2012 @ 11:42pm | ! Report

      Last year I visited a cousin and her family in Western Sydney. One of her daughters told me that there were GWS Giants players signing autographs – at a DANCE RECITAL!!! This is how far they were willing to go to get community support. This is surely an indication of what has to happen for this club to succeed. I dare say this club can outgrow Sydney FC and be top dog in our most populous city if it does the right things.

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