By Craig Regan
We all have our sporting biases so let’s not pretend otherwise. As hard as it is to be objective when supporting your own team or code, it’s even more difficult to find anything good to say about the people running soccer in Australia.
The feet of Australian soccer are riddled with self-inflicted bullet wounds. It’s a sport that’s massively popular at junior levels but shuffles one step backwards every time it takes a pace forward.
Sacking the Clive Palmer-owned Gold Coast United team four rounds out from the finals is a big step. It puts a bunch of players out of work and creates a hole in the competition draw. But it’s more momentous when the axed club’s owner has immensely deep pockets and a legal team that’s busier than a one-armed bricklayer on a time-based performance bonus.
The public media war between Palmer and Frank Lowy hasn’t been pretty, but that’s the stuff of dreams for journalists charged with filling the back pages. Coach sackings, threats and protests. Chequebooks at 20 paces. This story’s had it all with more to come.
There’s a funny thing about court cases. They go on for ages and take up massive amounts of print space and airtime. A legal stoush will be the story that keeps on giving.
You have to wonder about the Football Federation of Australia. Palmer’s experience in owning and operating a soccer team was zilch. So why go into business with him, just a season after an equally ill-considered North Queensland franchise folded its tent?
Gold Coast United has been pulling an average home crowd of 2500. Clive Palmer was on AM this morning saying that this was a good result in proportion to the local population.
Excuse me? I’ve been to funerals of immensely unpopular people that have pulled more heads.
It was great to see the Socceroos punch above their weight in the World Cup, especially as the professional commitments of leading professional players almost always mean lead-up games are marked by their unavailability.
By the way...there’s something about calling a sporting match a “friendly” that rubs me the wrong way, but I digress...
You don’t need a long memory to recall the ill-fated, taxpayer-backed campaign to win Australia the rights to host the World Cup in 2022. That amateurish bid cost $45m. We scored one first round vote from a possible 22. That well-known soccer heavyweight Qatar won.
There’s always the 2030 event - we’re not eligible to run for 2026 - by which time Frank Lowy will be 100-years-old. At the present rate he will have survived another 50 PR disasters by then.