There is no denying the position that new A-League team Western Sydney Wanderers have achieved after such a short lead in time going into this season for a start up club is truly remarkable, and all involved should take a pat on the back. No one more so than the coach Tony Popovic along with his assistants and players. The style in which their game has evolved has been great to watch and one feels if they can continue the form they are in they could stun many and go all the way to the Grand Final in this their first year. It is remarkable, and a credit to all, and this writer did not believe it possible.
Despite all of the success there are some key factors that must be taken into consideration, the most important being that this club is owned and operated by the games governing body, the Football Federation of Australia, so they had to make sure that it was a success. However for any team to be a success they must perform on the park, and that is where Popovic has done such a great job.
On the playing side however let us not forget that as a start up club they were allowed more imported players than their A League counterparts; Many questioned this when it was announced stating that this was not an even playing field; should Wanderers make it to the Grand Final expect hose voices to be raised again.
When considering the success of the club, one should never forget that this is a club owned and run by the governing body in Australia, yet sadly so often key players in the media gloss over this fact but it does give the club an undoubted advantage over its fellow competitors.
For example is it a coincidence that two of its naming rights partners happen to be major sponsors of the Football Federation of Australia, Nike and Westfield owned by FFA Chairman Frank Lowy?
The CEO Lyall Gorman was interviewed on ABC Grandstand this morning by the respected Peter Walsh, but sadly it became a mutual appreciation society link up as Gorman, who used to be the head of the Hyundai A League spruiked the viewing figures, the crowd figures and the standard of the A League and the two acknowledged the ABC as a broadcast partner of the competition. Sadly at that point so much of the credibility of the interview was lost as it became clear that no hard questions were going to be asked.
Gorman advised that one of the successes of Western Sydney Wanderers was that they had a five year plan as opposed to a one year plan; a very obvious dig at other clubs in the A League, and one wonders if this was motivated by the FFA or his time as head of the A-League. This is the trouble with a set up such as this, the lines become blurred as to the roles of personnel and who is speaking on behalf of which entity.
Gorman went on to say that the goal was to to make the West of Sydney proud, and judging by the crowds and the 5,000 members they have attracted they are on the right path. It was then that he added that it was something that had been achieved by all of the 93 staff at Western Sydney Wanderers. Ninety three staff? That seems a hell of a lot more than most A-League clubs. Close to sixty of those places are taken up with playing staff in the first team, Youth League and W-League as well as coaching staff. Leaving thirty office and administration staff which is higher than many of the their A-League counterparts.
When one takes into account these factors is it any surprise that Western Sydney Wanderers are being so successful in their inaugural year? There will be some who will say that other clubs should learn lessons from the new club, and when it comes to engaging the community they may have a point, but how much money are the FFA/Western Sydney Wanderers spending on such issues?
With the FFA being funded by registrations and affiliation fees from around the country, as well as Government money, it would be nice to see the books of Western Sydney Wanderers opened up to the footballing public to reveal the true cost of the club’s success, but this will never happen.
As stated earlier congratulations to the coaches and playing staff on what they have achieved on the park where it matters, but if we are to compare the club administratively with others in the competition, let us never lose sight of who owns the club and the advantages that brings the organisation.