The saga that is Perth Glory continued its sad and sorry journey yesterday in the Sunday Times. Quite why the club would choose to talk to a paper that seems hell bent on knocking the code and especially Perth Glory is baffling. It is hard to find the last time they ran a positive story on the club.
But this story once again showed why the club is in the mess it is in. The article said the Chairman and owner Tony Sage would not assure anyone that their job was safe as he awaited the findings on the club in a report being published by David Hatt. The article quoted Mr Sage saying, “No one is guaranteed and nor is the club’s future guaranteed, other than the players, and there’s only I think 12 in contract, there’s no contracts with anyone at the club.”
This is a complete contradiction of a statement put out by the Media Manager on the 11th of February where he stated “Perth Glory would like to clarify incorrect reports on last night’s Fox Sports commentary surrounding the position of Ian Ferguson. Ian has signed a contract with the club until the end of the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League season.”
In addition to that Mr Sage has repeatedly stated that he has handshake agreements with Coach Ian Ferguson and Director of Football David Mitchell; in most circles a handshake is a contract. If a handshake is not to be honoured one wonders how keen a new coach will be to enter the fray. Let us also remember that the past two coaches at Perth Glory have been paid considerably less than their foreign counterparts in the Hyundai A League, and are most likely the lowest paid in the league.
This season has seen so many mixed messages come from within the club that is no wonder that it is in the mess that it is.
The season started with the fiasco of the tour to China where the team did not end up playing a game due to a major organisational snafu. There was also the on again off again youth team tour to China.
Then we had the memberships not being ready for the first game of the season, and rather than accepting the problem, blame was apportioned to others.
When Robbie Fowler went back to England the media were initially told that he would be back for the game against North Queensland Fury, yet it had been agreed that he would not return in time to play that game. The media were put offside by the club’s barefaced lying.
Dave Mitchell’s resignation as coach was another occasion where the club gave out mixed messages. Mitchell stating that it was his decision to step down, Sage minutes later implying it was his decision and that the then coach had moved aside and that he ‘had lost the dressing room.’ Yet subsequent conversations with the players would indicate that this was not the case and this was the point where they feel the season went off the rails.
There is no clear or defined leadership, the club is reactive rather than pro-active. Tony Sage as owner, and the man who pays the bills is ultimately allowed to say whatever he likes but often he creates more problems for the club when he speaks. A strong leadership group within the club may be able to guide him as to what to say and when to speak.
Was it any wonder that only 5576 turned up to watch the home game against Sydney FC when just three days before the game the owner was reported in the West Australian as saying the report would influence his decision to either continue propping up the club or pull the pin at the season’s end. This was exceptionally bad timing and ill advised from a PR perspective.
We could continue a list of basic public relations errors that have exacerbated the team’s form on the pitch.
Everyone is pointing the finger at poor recruitment, and there are a few players we would not have signed, but let us not forget that at the start of the season many fans and pundits were predicting Glory to be in the finals. People must cast their minds back to the start of the season and be honest and ask did they believe that this team would make the finals? We did. The players did not perform and many have now paid the price for that failure.
But the key issue, and it will continue to be an issue unless addressed, and we are sure that Mr Hatt will have picked up on it, is leadership at the club, and a strong unified message coming from within. That extends to showing faith in your staff. One year deals dependent on making finals for a coach is always going to end in tears. Moving ahead it is time to back your coach, make him share his vision with you and assess it at regular stages in the season, but do not knee-jerk when a few results go against you, and a handful of fans start getting uppity on a few blogs. Would you dump you shares so easily in your mining business due to a little volatility Mr Sage?
It is time to trust that staff that you employ to do the jobs they are paid to do. If they don’t then by all means get rid of them. The club does have some good people on the staff, but what they lack at the moment is strong leadership.