Why the A-League’s billionaires should start being sent off
Another week, another opinionated column. Here’s a taste of the column I’ve written in today’s The North West Star about the current embarrassment that is professional soccer in Australia, and why the billionaires involved need to step back and take a few deep breaths.
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What is going on with soccer in this country?
After Football Federation Australia stripped Clive Palmer the Gold Coast United A-League licence almost seven weeks ago, Australia’s premier round ball competition has looked like it was in a state of disarray.
When Nathan Tinkler, another mining magnate with his finger in a few sporting pies, decided he no longer wanted the Newcastle Jets licence this week, the A-League was about to experience a total meltdown.
It’s a pity, because the apparent battle of the billionaires is taking the focus off the key element of the A-League: the soccer.
The verbal stoushes between Frank Lowy, Palmer and now Tinkler are almost farcical.
Am I the only one who feels like I’m watching the sporting equivalent of a Days of Our Lives episode?
It’s almost a reality show where contestants go head-to-head in a clash of the chequebooks.
When news of Gold Coast United’s demise became public, FFA chairman Lowy said he was disappointed but that he had no alternative but to revoke the licence following Palmer’s “flagrant disregard” for A-League rules.
Never the wallflower, Palmer fired back.
“We don’t know what the charge is and Frank Lowy has behaved like a dictator. This course of action should not be allowed to stand in Australia,” Mr Palmer said.
“Frank Lowy has started this fight and we will finish it.”
The comments were almost as unbelievable when Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group handed back its licence for the Jets, albeit with the role of instigator reversed.
“Unfortunately, having lost confidence in the FFA management and its ability to find a resolution, it is clear we have no other option,”HSG chief executive officer Troy Palmer said.
FFA CEO Ben Buckley hit back by saying, “Let me make something very clear here. We have had countless meetings with Troy Palmer to address these issues.”
It’s a pitiful look for the sport.
There has been little comment from the players on how they feel about being used as pawns in what looks, at face value, like a “my wallet’s bigger than yours” contest between three of the richest men in the country.
One would have to assume that, like the fans, they’ve had enough.
Among the threats, laughable quotes and chest puffing, many have forgotten there’s still on-field action in the A-League.
It’s disappointing that the most important part of the sport has been relegated to the naughty corner like a small child, when in fact the child has done nothing wrong.
The poor cherub has been punished for the actions of its bickering parents.
Perth Glory travel to Gosford tomorrow night to challenge Central Coast Mariners for a spot in this season’s A-League grand final against Brisbane Roar.
There is some tremendous soccer talent in this country, and it’s about time we remember that.
The talent of the players needs to take centre stage again, as does the dedication of the clubs’ coaches, management teams and administration staff.
It’s time to give the fans what they actually pay for: the best soccer Australia can offer.
There are some glaringly deep issues with the way the A-League is being run, but that’s an issue for another day.
The billionaires have run out of yellow card chances: it’s time to begin sending a few egos off.