Saturday, November 04, 2006

Knights. Should I stay or should I go? If I stay there will be trouble. If I go it will be double...

This is the problem for Swiss Roar defender Remo Buess. He has had the call from the NZ Knights Paul Nevin and Miron has told him he is free to go if he wishes. But wish he does not. As he said on ABC radio this week, he will listen to what the Knights have to say but the Roar have the chance of being a championship winning side and he wants to be there for that.

His problem is not getting game time, and, perhaps as a result, looking out of form when he does. But with only 20 spots in a squad and the Roar only up to 19 so far, and with 21 games injuries and suspensions can change the face of opportunities. Ask Sydney FC. And Remo seems to be holding out for his chance to win back his spot. Miron says he can stay if he wants but perhaps should take the opportunity for game time and to impress the Roar and other clubs - ouch what a compliment.

Chad Gibson seems to have also been called by Nevin. But Miron wasn’t listening to that call. Chad, a one time finalist with Sydney United and now captain of the Roar, is to be found a place. Where we are not sure. But Miron sees the A-League as an entertainment arena and Chad is a key piece of the Roar media image and well known as a public figure.

Anyway. The real issue is the problems of the Knights. Frank Farina wants them to go (Courier Mail 3 November), in my view the Foxtel commentators have hinted that it is getting hard to talk them up. And in round 10 showed their game against Melbourne (the most popular team in the league) on replay at 10:30pm.

Paul Nevin has said he wants to get more Australians to play for him. Frank Farina says there is a rift between the Knights and the NZ FA and indicated that NZ stars have been warned against playing for the team. Why did rising star Brockie leave to sit on the bench for Sydney FC? In any case, the FFA is publicly backing the Knights and expecting them to fill another 2 seasons of their 4-year franchise. But at 2,000 fans per game who will finance that? One idea is that the Knights becomes an under 23 Australian side. But why would it be located in NZ?

The other side of the story is that the FFA has said that the bids from Wollongong and North Queensland can not expect to kick an A-League ball until the 2008-2009 season. Oh no. This too far out. The reason given is that the financial viability of the current clubs is the FFA number one priority. Well this season could be a peak for FFA funds given the FIFA world cup payments that FFA has passed onto clubs to pay this year’s salary cap.

To promote the A-League to none football fans the repeat games just come around too fast to hold interest. I have done my best at work to convert NRL fans via footy tipping but they are starting to complain about the lack of variance each week. Particularly as they are hardly likely to watch any of the games on pay tv, they miss the subtleties of developments and tactics of the given small number of teams. We need new teams I new territories next year.

Clearly, Victoria is a market that needs to be tapped with a new team. After all this seems to be state league where the exciting new Australian players are being found. Is further stretching the Sydney market the answer? Clearly, the far north of Australia is untapped, particularly the indigenous athletes that currently live and breathe Aussie rules from up there will one day provide Australia with a new inspiration and competitive advantage. But will there be big enough home crowds to sustain the required stadiums? And what about the summer heat - even at night must southerners will find these conditions unbearable.

Real challenges but we need answers to sustain our sport. Leaving it at 8 for next season isn’t going to work. Come on FFA let’s get to 10 and quickly to 12. How about a Korean, Chinese or Malaysian team? Or at least regular season round robins. And Foxtel - how about televising the young Socceroos - after all Burns and Dario are among the A-Leagues most exiting players. Perhaps we see some youth from other Asian countries to recruit here?


Anonymous said...

Just reading over your blog John. Good show, and an important angle for analysis.

Football, the way I see it, is, like politics, about numbers, and right now, necessary evil or not, the numbers are utterly restricted by the base of FOX subscriptions. Underlying the success of A-League in fact is the continued comercial success of FOX, and this is by no means certain in Australia.

It's hard to expect the throngs to attend the home games in between games they simply have no access to (especially if they have kids, which rules out most pubs). FOX 3, for some reason presented to us as some sort of celebration of new possibilities, made this situation even worse and this continues to be the case at most pubs.

This is not even to mention the other half of the country that doesn't live near home-stadiums.

Far, far, far worse is the fact that for the first time ever, in the qualifiers for the World Cup, Australians will not be able to watch the Socceroos. Forget about the nearly nine million who watched the qualifier against Uruguay. That a parallel game next time will be flat out getting two million is a body-blow to our sport.

Anyway, I've winged about this on my own blog as you know, and although I have no apparent choice but to swallow the 'necessary evil' argument, FOX remains a very ambiguous force for us. Necessary, and the greatest impediment to increasing numbers, at the same time.

Finally, shouldn't Queensland Roar go ahead and change its name to Brisbane Roar as soon as possible, to make way for a possible team from the North? Apart from New Zealand it is the only team not identified with a municipality. Personally I think it is in a more authentic, and more effective, base for fan-mobilisation as well.

Keep it up John. Thanks.

john said...

Thanks Hamish

I think the name thing is limited by the AFL team the Brisbane Lions. The Queensland Lions played a couple of seasons in the NSL - particularly when the Strikers were in trouble.

Queensland Lions is still the name of the home base club of the Roar (I'm a member of the Queensland Lions - $10 for 3 years) located at Richlands next to what I understand is, in turn, their owner, the Dutch Club of Queensland. Hence orange for the Roar and what sound like Dutch names in management. First the Soccer Australia and then FFA broke this nexus with European based clubs.

I think the Qld Lions were forced to evolve the Lions brand to Roar to distance themselves from the Brisbane Lions. Therefore it could be a stretch to move to Brisbane Roar.

Anyway, Lynch is in NZ. I'm looking forward to him taking ball from Wedau and Zhang. Now is the time as our run home is full of away games.