Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Any city should be able to have a football team in Australia. So why can't Tassie, Wollongong and Canberra?

Simple game football - everyone says so - so why can't any city in Australia have a professional football team?

The FFA set the bar high at $6 million per year including an increasing Salary Cap component every year when the A-League started. Indeed $8 million per year seems to be nearer the mark six seasons on.

And what do we have to show for Tony Sage, Clive Palmer and Con Constantine and others millions upon millions of dollars thrown at the game. Not to mention the millions of your money the FFA have raised from our kids and chucked at various clubs, the Fury included.

I'd argue there is nothing, no legacy, no connection with the fabled grassroots, no long-term stability and yet we've poured millions into the A-League.

Canberra should be able to have a team. So should Wollongong and Tasmania.

But not under the current model. The Fury and Gold Coast have proved that.

In Canberra, if the ACT Government put in one million, TV deal gives us another million, FFA handouts maybe 500,000, ticket sales, sponsorship and other merchandise, and investors, may mean Canberra could sit reasonably comfortably in the early years on a budget of around $4.5 to $5 million.

Of course if the TV deal comes in higher at $3 million per club per year as hoped then things would change again.

So if the Salary Cap was lowered for regional clubs, and Canberra marketed itself as a team of the future, signing the best youth, playing the best youth with a view to building a "selling" club a la, Valencia (think Villa in Spain) Everton(think Rooney in UK) and various German, Dutch or Croatian clubs under the top level, top leagues, a football club could evolve.

How long would it be before a Tommy Oar, Michael Zullo, Mustafa Amini, Nathan Burns, Brucve Djite, James Holland, Adam Sarota, Mitch Langerak, Matthew Leckie or a Luke Devere were putting money into Canberra coffers?

Canberra could be that second tier club, initially, similar to the Raiders in League or Brumbies in Rugby (teams unlikely to win but still get to play).

15 home games a season is too much - initially - for Canberra fans to fill a stadium, so joining with Wollongong (4 games) Tasmania (4 games) and Canberra 7 (games) makes the whole deal more financially manageable - each area providing more funds for the coffers.

Each area allowing the FFA to get on the front foot with football fans in the regions, business in three regions and governments across the cities.

This grows the game in three areas - in time - each area could aspire to it's own A-League team when the game grows.And let's face it the FFA treatment of non-A-League aligned areas has been pathetic - at best!

Creative solutions?

FFA need to review their one size fits all salary cap policy.

Manchester United tend to have more funds than West Brom and yet they can both play professional football in the same league. West Brom even drew with Arsenal on the weekend.

So why couldn't Melbourne Victory or Sydney have more funds than Canberra - doesn't mean Canberra and other regions could win - and more importantly be an active part of the game in Australia.

FFA: How are you going to assist the game? The broader game?

At the moment your professional club base is reducing - fast.

Its your responsibility to provide the match. We'll provide the fuel. But you need to change your modus operandi for the future, the future of football, if you actually want the game to grow.

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