An open letter to David Gallop

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By Stuart Thomas, Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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    While the composition of a letter can be used as a satirical and humorous tool to make a point, this particular one is nothing of the sort.

    Off the back of my piece last Thursday entitled ‘Even as an innocent bystander, football is implicated‘, and my frustration at the silence of the FFA, I wrote this letter to David Gallop.

    With the game used pathetically as some sort of reference point to either placate or highlight the issues in the AFL around crowd violence and brawling, football took another one on the chin.

    Personally, I would have liked to have heard from the man in charge; seen him on the front foot, positioning himself as a meaningful player in Australian sport, rather than once again, appearing reactionary and risk adverse.

    The Chief Executive
    Football Federation Australia
    Level 22 / 1 Oxford Street
    Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

    24th July 2018

    Dear Mr Gallop,

    I write to you from Sydney as a writer, freelance journalist but most of all, a long-term fan and supporter of football in Australia.

    I am not sure of your preferred weekly football reading staples but I would like to think that you have stumbled across the odd piece I have written on The Roar. If not, you should log on, create a profile and have a surf around the football tab. Those engaging in online discussions would appreciate the access and your effort to connect with the concerns and queries of coalface football fans.

    I wanted to congratulate you on the long-awaited A-League expansion plan to which the FFA has now committed. While the delays in its implementation have been frustrating for the many aware of its necessity and importance, it is pleasing that we have finally reached that particular point in the A-League’s journey.

    David Gallop

    (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    Personally, I hope the final selection of the new licence holders will be informed by long-term and visionary thinking and not merely a commercial choice made to re-energise the league with a new derby and little else.

    The W-League was constructed with that type of thinking in mind. It was the pioneer in terms of women’s professional team sport in this country.

    After more than a decade of competition, the unquestioned quality of the play and its power to lure top class players from overseas, the league has played a key role in the surging success of the Matildas.

    It took years for the AFL, rugby league and cricket to follow suit with women’s competitions and while they experience a more prominent commercial face in terms of mainstream coverage, I hope the FFA remembers the vision behind the W-League concept.

    A truly national A-League competition would feature markets such as Wollongong, Canberra, Northern Territory and Tasmania.

    Sure the Gold Coast and northern Queensland ventures failed, yet they too would be an integral part of an expanded A-League in the long term.

    In whatever direction the FFA decide to head in terms of expansion clubs, I hope that long-term vision lies at the heart of the decision and there is some sense of altruism in the choice.

    Similarly, a national second division and the associated promotion and relegation appear far off. Fans have felt frustrated by the FFA’s perceived aversion to them. The move to a structure that mirrors the vast football world and meets FIFA’s requirements would address many of the issues that exist around player development.

    The stark reality for young Australian footballers is that many of them do not have a competition commensurate with their talents in which to compete. Young A-League players who receive limited minutes in the top flight often find themselves playing in youth leagues, rather than a competitive second-tier competition.

    The Australian psyche grapples with this concept as other codes move towards an Americanised version of ‘game day’.

    Rugby league is a prime example. The weekend match has become a one-off event, devoid of reserve grade play. A key stepping stone to the top level has been removed and players are struggling with the leap from junior football to the NRL.

    Filling the similar chasm that exists in football is essential.

    The tiers that exist in world football are vital to player development and the NPL competitions are doing as well as they can, despite being hamstrung financially.

    Aligning the more successful and better resourced NPL clubs would provide a wonderful second tier. As with the FFA Cup, where early scepticism has proven unwarranted, any fears around promotion/relegation will be allayed when the benefits are reaped in the future.

    From a financial perspective, while I appreciate your concerns and risk adverse approach to releasing the purse strings of the A-League clubs and freeing up their spending, the salary cap must go.

    There has been astonishing development in Asian football over the last decade. Australia is destined to fall well behind unless local teams are able to attract more quality international footballers to the league and also retain local talent more readily.

    As more and more of our young stars leave our shores thanks to financial restraints that limit the buying power of our A-League clubs, the competition remains stagnate. A quality product it is, yet comparatively it flounders, as Asian football booms.

    The increased number of teams permitted at the World Cup might be a godsend for the Socceroos considering how difficult qualification through Asia has become. No doubt it is evidence of other Asian countries’ investment and subsequent advancement and Australia’s treading of water.

    Socceroos Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan react after losing a World Cup game

    (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Hopefully, these and many other issues are front and centre in your thinking. Sometimes it is hard to know considering the infrequent times we hear from the FFA. Last week was such an example, as football was conveniently and crassly drawn into the discussion around AFL crowd violence.

    On top of that, the treatment of the Perth Glory supporters at Optus Stadium provided further opportunity for critics to allude to ‘problems’ with football crowds, despite the fans doing absolutely nothing wrong.

    I had anticipated you being on the front foot and demanding that other codes focus on their own issues and stop dragging the innocent bystander into the debate via an archaic stereotype.

    It was a golden chance to allude to an exciting promotional campaign for the upcoming A-League season and reference the Socceroos who did us proud in Russia. It was a week where we needed your voice, firmly and confidently defending and supporting football.

    In much the same way, Australian football needs your voice to be bold, informed and sage-like when it comes to some of the big decisions pending in the manila folder on your desk.

    Worrying a little less about the presence of an Italian flag on the kit of an NPL team and a little more about that folder would build some faith with Australian football supporters; many who feel the FFA is more concerned with maintaining leverage in a power struggle than advancing the game.

    It is a crossroads for the A-League, our status in Asia and the future of our NPL clubs and I wish you the best of luck as you embark on the next phase of the journey. Hopefully, the think tanks you have already constructed and those that lie ahead will include the people to whom this all means the most.

    Football fans know what works, can see structural flaws and limitations and understand the game in a truly international way; something the FFA haven’t appeared to do at different times.

    I hope the exciting and revolutionary changes that lie ahead are implemented with a sense of wisdom and adventure; knowing that a step or two backwards initially may lead to far greater gains in the long term.

    Kind regards,

    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • July 31st 2018 @ 8:57am
      Wise Old Elf said | July 31st 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      Does Australia even need a CEO? It is 2 million bucks for this bloke which should be on the Centre of Excellence.

      What are we getting for this 2 million dollars? Just another effing CPA. For 2 million you could hire an accountant for every other employee of the FFA.

    • July 31st 2018 @ 9:21am
      Tony Yeboah said | July 31st 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report


    • July 31st 2018 @ 9:50am
      Midfielder said | July 31st 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      Stew and via Stew to David,

      FFA has been in open warfare with many of its stakeholders for a while now.

      I think I can pin point the time when the mob [for want of a better word] turned on FFA.

      It was the attack by Ms Wilson & Alan Jones on the RBB, and Football culture in general, we were compared to terrorists.

      FFA never replied and seemed to be forced into limited defending of Football…. never in any meaningful way.

      Its been a bug bear of mind that no FFA CEO has gone out to defend or more to the point normalise Football culture into acceptable, recognisable behaviour. This still allows people who openly break the law to be banned.

      David you should look at the vid I have attached, its by a indigenous Australian named Calin Carr who played for years in the MLS and he made a series called “”””The Movement””” where he explains Football culture …. its very very very very very very very good.

      This is one vid of many, but a team like WSW with similar fans and this is how its sold, please consider..

    • July 31st 2018 @ 10:03am
      Nick Symonds said | July 31st 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report


      The story of how the Soccer ANZACS made the ultimate sacrifice for their country proves football is central to Australian history, says author of the book, The Game that Never Happened.


      BRISBANE Roar want an ANZAC Day A-League match to become a permanent fixture at Suncorp Stadium.

      In the 2018-19 season draw released on Thursday, it was revealed that for just the second time in the 14-year history of the competition, A-League football will be played on April 25.

      The Roar pushed hard for hosting rights, with Football Federation Australia rewarding them for their effort by scheduling an ANZAC Day clash between Brisbane and Adelaide United at Suncorp Stadium.


      Roar managing director David Pourre intends to turn the match into an occasion similar to AFL and NRL matches played on April 25 every year.

      “We’ve got big plans for that match,” Pourre said.

      “It’s an opportunity for the whole code and our club to properly support the day and honours those who have served Australia and New Zealand.”

      • July 31st 2018 @ 11:13am
        Kangas said | July 31st 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        I be considering traveling up to Brisbane from nsw for the Anzac Day match .

        I hope Brisbane Roar might include a former Socceroo captain or player of the team that played in Vietnam in the 1970s. j B could tell me more about that game.

        Also eagerly awaiting to buy that Ian Syson book

      • July 31st 2018 @ 7:07pm
        Aligee said | July 31st 2018 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

        Rather than being soccer ANZACS they were ANZACS who played soccer which in 1915 was actually called British Association football in this country, that may give you an idea of where the majority came from – “new chums” they were called, fresh off the boat.

        • July 31st 2018 @ 7:27pm
          MQ said | July 31st 2018 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

          Interestingly, the history of British Association Football in this country appears to have been wiped from all memory.

          Try looking it up, very, very hard to find anything about the days of the British Football Association in Australia.

          I wonder if Ian Syson covers this off in his history.

          • July 31st 2018 @ 7:32pm
            Aligee said | July 31st 2018 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

            In SA for example soccer was called British Association football until at least 1940 officially.

            • July 31st 2018 @ 7:49pm
              MQ said | July 31st 2018 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

              I’m pretty sure that was the case as well in Victoria pre-WWII, but these days, impossible to find anything on it.

          • August 1st 2018 @ 2:04pm
            Nephilim said | August 1st 2018 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

            Here’s some info on the game in Victoria, going back to 1884.


    • July 31st 2018 @ 10:19am
      Oldpsyco said | July 31st 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      There is NO future for football where David Gallop has any part to play, his time is up. Likewise Mr Lowy, stephen has undermined every bit of the good work his father contributed.
      The Arrogance that seeps out of FFA headquarters has no place in the Australian game. The cancer must be removed.
      If FIFA screw this up, the games future in this country is indeed bleak! The Fans are fed-up and at breaking point!

    • July 31st 2018 @ 10:39am
      Nick Symonds said | July 31st 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      “Personally, I hope the final selection of the new licence holders will be informed by long-term and visionary thinking and not merely a commercial choice made to re-energise the league with a new derby and little else.”

      A Brisbane Derby would still be good though if it’s anything like the 2014 Grand Final. It might have been an intercity match but so many Wanderers fans showed up that it pretty much felt like a derby –

      The only other new derby that could come close would be Perth vs Fremantle. No doubt Fremantle fans will be keen to get one over those who call their part of town a “socialist hellhole” and call for it to be walled off from the rest of the city. –

      • July 31st 2018 @ 8:29pm
        Sydneysideliner said | July 31st 2018 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

        Brisbane deserves a 2nd team, but it needs a point of difference to make it a success. WSW works because of the East-West divide. Brisbane’s suffered from being a sporting monoculture for so long, mostly due to Broncos killing off any competition in its own sport. The only real point of difference is North of the river vs South, and there’s no infrastructure south of the river (unless a team wants to play at the QE2).

        Personally I’d like to see 4 teams granted entry: 2 ready to go next season (such as Wolves, SMFC or Canberra) and another 2 with good “metrics” for entry a couple of years down the track, given time to build team support and infrastructure…

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