The Roar
The Roar


Townsend and APL at the heart of Australian football's latest self-sabotage

22nd January, 2024
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22nd January, 2024
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If you are looking for some emotional pain, support the game of football in Australia.

Forget about the winter football codes that still dominate the airwaves and importantly, government funding, and latch on to the round-ball code. It will bring you a lifetime of relentless anguish, created from both within and by plenty of fools who have business degrees yet little knowledge of the game itself.

Come along for the ride and experience the never-ending frustration of watching the most beautiful of games be hamstrung, time after time, by itself and those purporting to be supporters, people who actually hold the game to ransom through their selfishness and naivety.

Former head of the APL Danny Townsend is one such person.

Persuasive and rather importantly backed by the numb New South Wales minds that felt he was indeed an excellent individual to take control of the newly empowered APL, after A-Leagues governance was handed from Football Australia to the clubs, Townsend will now be seen as nothing but a failure.

Danny Townsend speaks during a Sydney FC media opportunity

Former Australian Professional Leagues Chief Executive Danny Townsend stepped down in October of 2023. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

With massive staff reductions having taken place at the APL and an admission that far too much money had been invested in digital campaigns and clunky websites such the appalling KeepUp, Townsend is conveniently employed elsewhere as the proverbial excrement hits the fan.

Some, myself included, called him out soon after his appointment. His stunning performance of denial at the 2020 Football Writers’ Festival in Jamberoo was something to behold in terms of watching a person spruik a million words and say absolutely nothing.


The ridiculous support he received from Sydney FC fans and the obvious challenge of overseeing the league after being so heavily involved at one club did not escape people un-fooled by the uncomfortable power possessed by the club sporting sky blue.

The selling-off of Grand Finals and a rather underwhelming Unite Round as a replacement for what was an appalling decision will ultimately define his time at the helm. Quite simply, there was little progress and continues to be so.

Townsend is a perfect example of the kind of person that continues to ruin the game for those of us who actually love football, thanks to his inability to read a room, understand the game itself and skill in enacting decisions that do nothing but alienate fans right around the country, bar a happy few in Sydney.

Paid in the role as boss of the APL, there is no doubt that he wished the best for the A-Leagues and the game itself in Australia, although something also tells me that a doubling of salary offered by an airline, a bank or reputable supermarket would have seen Townsend hot-footing out the door and on the way to his next gig.

The misnomer that football would do better under the new structures, with ‘football people’ at the helm, was believed and accepted by far too many.

What constitutes a football person is indefinable, yet I would suggest that Roar writers Tuckerman and Thomas would run the game with far greater precision, common sense and intellect than Townsend and the many others that were happy to have a crack for a decent financial return.


With the writers at the helm and a number of Roar readers and contributors on our board, the A-Leagues would be in far better health that what they are right now, despite the fact that the football remains entertaining, plenty of fans are still engaged and the future still looks bright.

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

I was in Canberra over the weekend just passed and took my two daughters, two cousins and cousin-in-law to the Canberra United-Melbourne Victory clash at McKellar Park.

It was a steamy afternoon in the sun, and I was weatherly forced to purchase a $40 cap from the Canberra United merchandise tent. (Seriously, $40 for a cap?)

I paid $125 for six general admission tickets to the ground. We drank and ate plenty and watched a cracking game of football between two willing teams.

Kayla Morrison was superb at the back for Victory, as was Emma Checker and Matilda Emily Gielnik managed the winning goal in the death roes of the contest. Michelle Heyman scored twice to further enhance her legacy and Nicki Flannery did everything possible in a typically enthusiastic performance.

Townsend was not in attendance and even if he had been, I doubt he would have been able to recognise the players by appearance or jersey number and pass on that information to the potential A-League Women fans with us.


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It was fun. Football is fun. Townsend and the current APL, however, think of it more as a business.

Sadly, for all their business training and rubbish decisions since taking control of the domestic leagues, they have proven themselves as nothing but failures; predictable failures, yet still failures of the highest order.

It felt like the A-Leagues could not stand another set-back such as this. Hopefully, they can and the football continues to outshine the failed decisions and directions taken by those in charge.

I’m happy to step up and take the reins. Hopefully Mike is as well. Just give us a call, APL – we would do no worse and probably a whole lot better.