Black Hole Suns

Black Hole SunsI’ll give you all a situation to think about. Walk with me to June 2013. A Gold Coast Suns side is missing its captain Gary Ablett, injured and missing from the starting line up.

Mid-week, the CEO announces that the replacement captain is someone who is not only in the leadership group, and/or is an established player, but a 17-year-old playing his first game. Then, to only muddy the situation further, Guy McKenna kicks up a stink and then gets suspended in airing his disgust at the decision.

This is currently occurring in the A-League, with the Gold Coast United Football Club rocked and shattered to its core. Clive Palmer (mining magnate and more importantly, poet in his spare time), has been leading the charge in such strange happenings occurring up north.

This man brutally strangled any attempts for this football club to grow a culture. He netted talented players, to only then only offer contracts on a yearly basis, failing to give them any job security in case of injury or just poor form with bad timing.

He heard of a brawl outside the game and responded by getting the council involved and shutting down the beach at certain hours, preventing supporters from celebrating wins in the Gold Coast area.

The club, after making finals in its first two seasons, has become the laughing stock of the league, registering crowds that are consistently low for A-League standards and currently sitting well adrift at the bottom of the table.

Now what does this A-League crisis have to do with the AFL?

The Football Federation of Australia has consistently played along with eccentric and out of touch owners and CEOs of football clubs going back to the days of the National Soccer League.

In doing so, they have negligently allowed the degradation of the sport and failed to exert sufficient influence to ensure these new franchises actually prove successful.

The AFL is a tightly run and regulated business and they need to be careful and ever so vigilant  with regards to franchise clubs establishing themselves in our game.

Due to the architect and original mastermind of the Gold Coast Suns, Scott Munn, being first associated with the Melbourne Heart, (which to its credit has so far accomplished everything professionally – except on field success) it has, just like his AFL team, yet to establish a fan base which can begin to grow.

Again, whether it is in the AFL or A-League, or even the Rebels in the Union; this takes time. However, such management blunders have been avoided so far at the Suns, and to this current point in time GWS with the inclusion of Tom Scully’s contract fiasco, nothing has raised too many eyebrows.

This bizarre situation in the A-League, has highlighted the dangers of franchise clubs. I and a large amount of the football community are not entirely sold on the creation of GWS and the Suns.

These two clubs have both been sold in their first season on gimmicks; a short-term marketing strategy. This strategy does not ensure growth after the initial founding of the organisation, with only success in a short –term period riding on the clubs continued existence.

The Suns and GWS both recruited from the NRL, appealing to the territory in which they will hope to draw their fan bases from.

I can say with utter confidence that  Israel Folau and Karmichael Hunt will not have decorated careers as AFL players.

If anything, I hope they prove me hilariously wrong. These men are professional athletes and were good at what they did elsewhere, but it’s disrespectful to them and more importantly, it’s disrespectful to our game that it has been reduced to this farce of 20-goal hidings and talentless hackery.

We have Kevin Sheedy; the esteemed great and eccentric genius, arguably due to his own boredom with retirement, drawn out to lead a pack of talented kids, rejects and mercenaries to the slaughterhouse.

Alberton legend Mark Williams will be riding shotgun on this highway to hell in a hand basket and there will be no further questions as to why Scully, Davis and Ward are there.

I have no respect for these clubs, regardless of how well they are managed and how they are avoiding the farce driven escapades of the A-League.

However, I do, at the same time, wish them not to fail. The integrity of our great game is at stake, as after the destruction of Fitzroy, letting teams come and go is disrespectful to their memory of what once was, and to their heartbroken supporters.

Every club needs to have a culture in order to survive. A cult of sorts. Heroes. Villains. Exaggerated stories. These things weld a football club into the hearts of supporters.

These newly drafted players need to shine to develop a culture within the club.

I’m not happy with their existence, but some are already in it too deep, and regardless of it being only a year, and as a supporter of a battled club, no one has the right to lose what they hold dear.

And most importantly, these clubs need to embrace this fanaticism. If they believe that they can survive on gimmicks alone, they are wrong.

They must preach to the fanatics, not continuously try to come up with new tricks for the half-interested. These clubs must be held to account. If they are to be respected and taken seriously, they need to adapt to what every football club does, strengthen the cult and culture first. That’s a longer marketing strategy, and just maybe these clubs can have their own Pinocchio story: Once wooden, now real.

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