Following the appointment of a new CEO at Perth Glory, owner Tony Sage announced that he would be taking a back seat in the coming season, but like a moth to a flame the lure of the media spotlight has proved too much and we are only four weeks into the season and he has has to step into the spotlight.
Followers of the club knew it would only be a matter of time before he poked his head up, and the upcoming FFA Cup Final was always going to be just too tempting an opportunity miss.
Interestingly as per usual it was the same two media outlets that gave Mr Sage air time and media space, funny that. SBS’s website The World Game, and a writer who seems to be a quasi PR machine for Mr Sage was one, and local Radio Station 6PR, who have always had close ties with the club since Mr Sage took over the A-League licence. Having sponsored the club, and had current and former staff working for the club, one sometimes has to question their objectivity.
The article on the SBS site apparently misquoted Mr Sage and that was why he was on 6PR, yet surely he should have taken the issue up with “The Whole Game” and requested an amendment? Maybe he did.
The article in question was a strange one for a sporting website as half of it was given to the fact that Mr Sage’s International Goldfields company has acquired an 85 per cent interest in a Uruguayan pharmaceutical biosciences company, Winter Garden Biosciences, which manufactures medical grade marijuana for worldwide distribution.
What is sad is that very few took note of the Perth Glory owners comments at the end of the article. When discussing the fact that Perth Glory once again missed out on hosting the FFA Cup final, the owner blamed the fans. “I was disappointed in a crowd of only 7,700 for our last home game against Adelaide United … and if the fans don’t turn up the FFA says they don’t deserve it,” he was quoted as saying. “To get that figure, when we expected at least 10,000, then there’s no excuse when Victory can get a sell-out crowd of 26,000 at AAMI Park to host the final.”
What is sad is that Mr Sage does not seem to realise that he is lucky to have achieved that figure, and one wonders had the club not given so many free tickets to junior NPL sides whether even that figure would have been achieved. As stated previously clubs should have to declare how many of those who attend have actually paid to do so. (When a Crowd is Nota Crowd)
One has to ask what made him and the club think they would achieve 10,000 at the game against Adelaide. This has been a target figure for the club for many years yet rarely does it actually achieve it, so surely they need to re-adress the targets. In 2014-15 the average crowd was 9542 with a highest of 12,271 v Melbourne Victory in round 15. Season 2013-14 the average was 9418, 2012-13 it was 8840 and in 2011-12 it was 8972. In fact the club’s highest average attendance was in the first season when they achieved 9734.
The sad fact is many fans are completely disenchanted with the club and after last season have vowed not to attend as long as Mr Sage remains owner. Many of those who do attend are loyal to the team and the players, but not the owner and his administration. Sniping comments such as this will do little to win fans over and have them come back to NIB Stadium. Trying to mend bridges with the fans and showing some contrition would be the sensible way to go; but that is not his style. The new CEO is trying to walk that path but comments like this undo his good work. Sadly almost every season that he has owned the club Mr Sage has had a swipe at fans or threatened to walk away. It has become tiresome to many, and they are quite simply sick of it.
Mr Sage may have a valid point that the way the FFA Cup Final venue is decided is unfair, and that it should be held over two legs, but like Peter who cried Wolf, very few people are listening to his complaints any more. In fact they wish, as promised, he would take a back seat and simply let the coach and the new CEO do all the talking on behalf of the club. If only he could take a leaf out of a man from the same industry as his core business who has been extremely successful, Roman Abramovich. How often do Chelsea or the footballing public hear from that club’s owner?