Monday, October 26, 2009

Gold Coast United are an embarrassment to the A-League

Gold Coast United are an embarrassment one moment and the headline act in the theatre of the absurd the next. None more so than the antics of the ubiquitous owner Clive Palmer.
Before season five began, I wrote a pre-season preview on each A League club. With players to look out for and a light hearted prediction. Let’s rewind the tape.
“I predict Miron Bleiberg to be sacked after four games because of the poor form shown by the side in only scoring two goals per game not three. I expect to see Professor Palmer in pure Roman Abramovich-style, giving half time speeches while a bemused Paul Okon looks on.”
Last week that happened.
During the half time break, the Fox Sports camera’s showed Clive Palmer at half time in the Gold Coast dressing room.
A case of life imitating absurdity.
What’s more bemusing is that Clive Palmer has tried to cap the crowds at 5,000 so the Gold Coast don’t have to pay transport costs if more than 5,000 attend a home match.
No wonder the White Shoe Brigade don’t go to any games. In a first for football anywhere in the world, the owner doesn’t want the crowd to support his team.
Recently, I spoke with well-known surfing journalist and magazine editor Jimmy O’Keefe, who was actually born and raised in the area. Jimmy offered some fascinating insights into the Gold Coast market.
Me: What are your thoughts on having an A League team on the Gold Coast?
Jimmy O’Keefe: “Tops. I think there’s potential for it to really blossom”.
Me: Why do you reckon the crowds are so low?
JOK: “It’s because Gold Coast is full of Visigoth-type bogans with bad tatts, and the only sports that seem to flourish in this cultural vacuum are burnouts in low-rider utes and rugby league”.
Me: Does the Gold Coast have the potential to be a football town?
JOK: “Certainly, it’s one of the biggest cities in the country. I think the place has had trouble as far as fan bases go because over the last two decades AFL and Rugby League consortiums have come and gone about five times. There’s also a huge transient population there, no affiliations to any teams”.
Me: What needs to be done to get bigger crowds? How would you engage the community so fans can watch the game on TV or attend?
JOK: “When it comes to families, let them know that it’s an alternative to whatever else is going on. That it’s a day out, people would jump at it. They just need to know that when it comes to singles, I think push it as a great place for women to go (unlike league) and a great afternoon to catch up with friends for a drink. Kind of like a Sunday session.
“I think marketing wise, it’s kind of strange place in that it’s a radio town, and people do a lot of driving or listen to the radio at work. And they seriously get into all the ‘Morning Crew’ and ‘Black Thunder’ sort of stuff. Sadly, they are indeed an effective way to mobilise Gold Coasters”. (The Gold Coast Titans signed Mat Rogers and gave his girlfriend a job on local radio.)
So there you have some free market research.
I am embarrassed to watch some of the Gold Coast matches. I think the FFA should have chosen a team in Canberra or Wollongong.
Those towns have football history and easily would have had greater crowds.
I also think the club would have used the word “Community”, rather than words like “three Jets”; “second richest”; and “undefeated”, in the way it sold the club to the local folks.


  1. The worst of it is Gold Coast's impact on Brisbane Roar - made FFA take our name back, poached 5 mgrs, gave 20% discount to Brisbane fans, beat us twice at home, better known players, former Roar coach, boycotted first game of the season... and stole a major sponsor Waco.