Posted by Chuq
It's time for my first post on another one of our blogs main topics - balls, specifically of the foot variety!
Yesterday, Tassie A-League bid taskforce Tasmania United FC made a press release announcing the next stage of their bid process - a public sentiment survey.
And of course, the same thing happened that happens everytime.. the naysayers come out of the woodwork.
One anonymous poster on Walter Pless' site posted "We have at least two chances of getting an A league side here in Tasmania. Buckleys and none." I would like to think that Buckley - FFA CEO Ben Buckley that is - who grew up in Tasmania, would like to see a team here!
This is on a site specifically about Tasmanian football - you would expect them to be the most supportive.
"Zero chance of an A league team here. All clubs struggling. No money in the game. That is reality.", the anonymous poster continued.
I continued with some actual facts:
* Yes some clubs are struggling. Importantly, some are not. Financially, Melb and Central Coast are in the black. Crowd wise, some are down, but Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Wellington are up.
* The feasibility study includes financial info and a preliminary public interest survey. It also states that TUFC will be able to break even with crowds as low as 8000 due to the favourable stadium arrangements in place.
* FFA is about to sign a new deal with Fox Sports for $60m/year (current deal is $17m/year).
* Buckley, Frank Lowy and Archie Fraser have all recently stated Canberra and Tasmania are their intentions for future expansion.
I don't understand the mentality of not supporting a team playing your preferred sport, in your own state. Do people think they are going to get punished for supporting an unsuccessful bid? The general public don't need to worry about the funding or sponsors or business cases or anything like that - if the bid doesn't have them, they won't be accepted. The only question most of us have to answer is "If we get a team, will you support them?" You would expect Tasmanians, being a parochial bunch, to do so!
I think many Tasmanians have a built-in inferiority complex - they have been told that they are not good enough by mainlanders for so long that they start to believe it.
Support makes a huge amount of difference. Look at Gold Coast United. Ignoring the crowds they had everything that makes a hugely successful club. Jason Culina, a World Cup Socceroo playing in Europe, returning in play in Australia in the prime of his career. A strong squad including leading goalscorer Shane Smeltz. Clive Palmer, Queenslands richest man, as their owner. Good results, consistently in the top 3 of the league all season. Robina Stadium, a 27,000 capacity stadium completed in 2005, to play in. The only major sport on the Gold Coast over summer (not even cricket to contend with). But their crowds are terrible, smaller than clubs based in less populated areas such as Central Coast and Townsville.
They have not promoted themselves or connected with the community, and as a result they have the smallest crowds of any club, and that alone has caused all sorts of problems, on and off the field.
Hopefully as club based in a smaller population area, this will be one of the things that Tasmania United FC will do well. Time will tell!
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