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Petition against Southen Expansion – is it the best way to get FFA’s attention?

Jeff Williamson Roar Pro

By Jeff Williamson, Jeff Williamson is a Roar Pro

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17 Have your say

    One of the things I like about being part of The Roar is the discussion about different issues. It’s a healthy thing.

    I do not know if anyone from FFA ever reads the comments that are posted here. I sometimes hope that they do, because there exchanges of views that could help football.

    What made me think about this was that I recently came across a webpage where a petition against the Southern Expansion A-League bid was being mounted.

    The views expressed in the petition reflected some of the discussions we have had on The Roar since the idea of a combined southern Sydney/Wollongong A-league bid was first mooted a couple of years ago.

    The difference is that here are some activists who are wanting to do something more than air their opinion. This petition will be delivered to Football Federation Australia.

    Clearly, the petitioners are arguing mainly from the Wollongong point of view, but there is also reference to how this might impact Sydney FC.

    Liam Clark started this petition and now has 408 supporters. The question I am curious about is how many supporters would be needed to get the attention of the FFA.

    I suspect that you would actually need thousands of people supporting an idea before you are listened to. And that type of movement requires real organisation.

    Here is the explanation given for the petition:

    This petition exists to discourage the FFA from approving a combined St George, Sutherland Shire and Illawarra A-League franchise. Despite having the backing of Les Murray, Craig Foster and Chinese investors, the bid is seriously misguided for the following reasons:

    – Geographical and cultural disconnect between Southern Sydney and Wollongong would likely see poor support from the Illawarra region. Many Illawarra locals have consistently made it clear on social media that they will only support a standalone Wollongong team. The Wanderers have exemplified the success that comes with representing a specific region and having a clear identity – it would be a mistaken decision to go the other way.

    – The farcical nature of ground-sharing across the 3 regions is demonstrated by the fact that 55km separates WIN Stadium from Jubilee Oval, as opposed to 23km separating Moore Park and Parramatta Stadium – the homes of two different clubs.

    – 25% of Sydney FC’s member base live south of Mascot, and 40% of junior members (2015 data). A new team would deeply cut into their support and already diminished catchment area (post-WSW). It is important to note that Jubilee Oval (St George region) is only a short 12km from Moore Park.

    – Adding a third Sydney team creates 6 more derby fixtures each season, yet the potential success of these manufactured ‘derbies’ is questionable. The current Sydney Derby has been so successful because it captured a real and pre-existing social and cultural dynamic in Sydney.

    – Additionally, the Wanderers were established to represent a specific area and have a clear identity – something a combined Southern team would not have. Again, despite the combined St George, Sutherland Shire, Illawarra region boasting a population of nearly 1 million, this raw number does not automatically convert to passionate fans, especially when there is such a physical and cultural separation across that population. Despite having a smaller population on its own, the Illawarra region already boasts a historically successful club in the Wollongong Wolves – a club that has a pre-existing and visible connection to the area and fans. Their standalone bid should be seriously considered and favoured over the combined regional one.

    To conclude, and with all respect to Les Murray and Craig Foster, the Southern Expansion bid is not the best thing since sliced bread. In fact, it would be detrimental to a pre-existing club in Sydney FC and stifle any chance a standalone Wollongong team has of joining an expanded competition. Expansion is vital to the future progression of the A-League, but it must be done right. Without any clear fan engagement conducted by the FFA, this petition hopes to demonstrate the sentiment of the public and encourage the future path taken by the FFA.

    These are valid views and we would all hope that FFA is mindful of this.

    Of course, there are people who have a completely different point of view about the Southern Expansion bid. There have been a number of meetings with clubs in the area that are reported to be positive.

    There have also been good reactions to announcements about making their academy programs free for selected players.

    The Southern Expansion bid has also recently conducted a survey of people in the area. It would be interesting to see if they make their survey results public to see what level of support they are attracting.

    It may be that there is a case for Southern Expansion. But there are also rumblings about other bids as well.

    The sentiments expressed in the Southern Expansion petition are also being heard in other cities as there a number of bids coming from cities that already have A-League clubs eg Brisbane (Brisbane City vs Brisbane Strikers and Ipswich), Melbourne (South East vs SMFC vs Geelong). Each of these debates relate to issues of existing support bases and who misses out if new clubs are approved.

    The expansion debate is very important, so I understand why people have strong views.

    I have expressed my opinion on The Roar about where I think the next A-League team should be located. I am not going to repeat that here because this article is not just about A-League expansion.

    The question is how does the football community explain to decision makers such as the FFA what we really want on important issues. Is it through online forums, news media, public meetings, or even a petition?

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • June 15th 2017 @ 8:35am
      League table speaks said | June 15th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Its better to wait for a competitive path via the football pitch to open up….

      Although clearly some groups would prefer the current system of getting the ‘golden ticket’ into the ffa cartel.

      The types of clubs to wait for promotion and relegation are exactly the types of clubs you should want in the league.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 15th 2017 @ 11:44am
      At work said | June 15th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      Good idea, up to 410 now and suspect after this article and people sharing on Twitter and Facebook it should rise much quicker

    • June 15th 2017 @ 5:46pm
      Gurudoright said | June 15th 2017 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

      The problem with these petitions is that the FFA will see thousands of people sign up and think that an instant rivalry will be born. Furthering the case for Southern Expansion

    • June 15th 2017 @ 6:16pm
      Waz said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

      How expansion impacts an existing club is irrelevant, if we allow that into the debate it will be used against promotion/relegation in the future.

      As for The Gong, it’s put up or shut up – where’s your bid? Your plan? Where’s your guarantees you won’t be a southern CCM?

      I’m all for p/r but until we get to 16 clubs and have a viable national second division it ain’t happening and quite frankly I don’t care how we expand just as long as we expand, and the southern bid looks good to me.

      • June 15th 2017 @ 9:23pm
        Melange said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

        If the Gong have an issue it’s time for them to put up or shut up. Where’s their bid? Their plan? Where’s their guarantee they won’t be another southern Roar?

        • June 16th 2017 @ 12:30pm
          Waz said | June 16th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

          Another Southern Roar? Let’s have a look at Mariners v Roar then:

          * Regular Marquees: Roar 2, CCM 0
          * Crowds: Roar high, CCM low
          * TV viewing: Roar high, CCM low
          * Player Budget: Roar $5.1m/yr, CCM $2.7m
          * Roar made finals for 7 (?) consecutive seasons
          * CCM challenging for the wooden spoon
          * W League: Roar has a team, CCM don’t (Roars WL budget spend is only exceeded by City)
          * Roar backed by billionaires prepared to invest
          * CCM backed by a millionaire only prepared to spend the minimum to keep going.

          Yes Roar are weak on stadium which is too big and too expensive, and an unsupportive government slugs the club $1m is tax each season, and the management of the club has been suspect for a while. So yes room to improve but really, a southern Roar would be welcome.

          Not to say CCM don’t have a plan (before Mid jumps in, they do) but they lost the plot years ago and have yet to prove they have found it again. What’s the Gong’s plan, object to southern Sydney??

      • June 16th 2017 @ 7:41am
        League table speaks said | June 16th 2017 @ 7:41am | ! Report

        Promotion and relegation can be the mechanism to get to 16 teams.

        Admit the winner and runners up of the NPL national playoffs every year until they get to 16. That’s three or four years.

        No relegation until year five at which point they would need to admit enough in one hit to create a second division. So promote eight local NPL winners.

        They can transfer their existing budgets and add whatever extra can be raised for travel. Other player spending optional. New teams have to come via NPL where they can spend to go up the tiers quicker.

        • June 16th 2017 @ 12:32pm
          Waz said | June 16th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

          The NPL can not provide automatic promotion at the moment unfortunately but I agree certain sides could come up eg South Melb. It’s another reason we need a viable second division of equivalent size to HAL1

          • June 16th 2017 @ 2:52pm
            League table speaks said | June 16th 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

            Any team admitted to HAL from now on should come through the NPL. You’re setting the bar needlessly high on the size or makeup of a div 2. Its the common theme with pro rel debates….

            • June 16th 2017 @ 3:42pm
              Waz said | June 16th 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

              No it’s not a “common theme”, in all for p/r but a pyramid is needed otherwise it will fail.

              The NPL is neither a suitable division to promote from or suitable to be relegated into.

              It is important that p/r is sustainable once it is introduced and not introduced too soon. If a national second division can be created and sustained then p/r is dead in the water.

              • June 16th 2017 @ 6:25pm
                Waz said | June 16th 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

                * if a national second division CAN’T be created and sustained then p/r is dead in the water.

                (Stupid thing wouldn’t let me edit)

              • June 17th 2017 @ 6:47am
                League table speaks said | June 17th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

                The whole premise of p/r is “any team from anywhere” like the ffa cup. If its not open to NPL clubs it will be a joke before it even – if ever – starts.

                Most of the arguments “for” and against it raise the bar so high as to guarantee failure, and therefore a non start.

                A very basic entry point is the only way it works. NPL clubs know how to stretch a dollar compared to the $$$ the HAL burns through with its mandatory wage floors.

      • June 16th 2017 @ 8:25am
        Rolland said | June 16th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        The gong bid is real is ready Wollongong wolves they have the team the infrastructure the juniors the support of the Wollongong community and the money courtesy of win television boss Bruce Gordon and others and a women’s team ready to play in the natoanl comp as well in the stingrays its all their and every one in Wollongong and the entire south coast is excited and keen .we are not part of Sydney and we will never be part of Sydney so it’s our own team in the south coast or nothing .the locals want a 100% local soccer team on the coast. And more importantly the stadium is already in place one of the best football stadiums in the country in WIN stadium . It’s one team one city not three cities and one team Murray and Foz have never consulted the local fans in the gong never..

        • June 16th 2017 @ 12:34pm
          Waz said | June 16th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

          Can’t disagree that Southern Sydney should stay out of the Gong BUT then again, SFC don’t so why isn’t there a petition against them?

          • June 16th 2017 @ 1:40pm
            punter said | June 16th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            Agree Southern Sydney should stay out of Gong, but as a SFC fan I welcome the Southern Sydney bid.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 16th 2017 @ 1:47pm
      At work said | June 16th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

      I’m less worried about the impact it could have on SydFC, not ideal but it would be okay.

      If more concern is a club which will cover 3 regions, without actually engaging them all very well. I could possibly see St George and The Shire region as they are close, but keep the Illawarra out of it.

    • June 18th 2017 @ 11:40am
      Swanny said | June 18th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

      Illawarra should have there own team. Simple

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