Brisbane Roar CEO Lawrence Oudendyk resigned today leaving the club in the hands of an interim CEO. I greatly admire people like Lawrence Oudendyk. He has been prepared to back football in Australia with his money. He has helped build a club that is clearly in the top 3 and perhaps plays the best game in the A-League. We need more like him.
There has been speculation for a month or so about the Roar's financial position. I saw 2008-09, version 4, as the A-League's sacrifice year. The season it had to have. The season before Socceroo World Cup qualification and the entry of 2 new teams. A sacrifice because it was clear that the essential, casual 'walk-up' fans of football needed new interest after intermittently watching 8 teams play each other 3 times, plus pre-season and finals for 3 years.
For the Roar, with the best football watching stadium in the land, 15,000 seats to sell before breaking even was too many. With around 3,000 season ticket holders, the early season 'news' about how they couldn't win at home was back-breaking. Gold Coast United FC may be partly accountable for the Roar not selling more seats. Not because it cannibalised fans, but because it walked in and bought 5 key Roar managers including the Roar's ticket selling expertise. The FFA had protected the Roar's players but not its business experience. The club rallied and the new staff did well. But market experience is hard to find and costly to buy. In season 4, some aspects of the Roar's publicity machine were starting again. Then the financial crisis hit.
In 2009/10, it will have derbies with Gold Coast and Nth Q Fury (including Robbie Fowler - please make this game 1 FFA). Plus a new Suncorp deal for only 13,000 seats to breakeven. Still, we will all be hoping the Roar can hang onto its players.
'With great regret, I have decided to resign from my position as chief executive officer of the Queensland Roar Football Club effective immediately. The prevailing economic conditions have made it very challenging to manage a professional football club which is still very much in its infancy. With the FFA committed to supporting the club moving forward, I believe the timing is now right for me to stand down and let my successor – whoever that may be – take the club to the next level. I have been with the club since its inception in 2004 and have given everything within my power to establish the club in a highly competitive Brisbane market.
I feel both mentally and emotionally drained by the challenge and I now look forward to spending time with my incredibly supportive family. I also look forward to enjoying watching football and the Queensland Roar as both a passionate football follower and Roar fan, rather than as a business activity.
I would like to publicly thank all the investors, staff, sponsors and fans who have been so passionate in their support of the club since its inception. I have greatly appreciated the dedication and loyalty shown over the five years the club has been in existence.
I wish the club much success for the future and believe that with Australia’s imminent qualification for the World Cup finals next year the game will continue to grow to its rightful place in Australian sport with Queensland Roar at the forefront. Until such time as a new chief executive is in place, Roar general manager Peter McLennan will oversee the day-to-day operations of the club.' LAWRENCE OUDENDYK