Perth Glory’s hard core fans must be the most loyal in the country. It would however appear that some are beginning to tire of the club’s rhetoric and want to actually see these words put into action at the club.
The club has announced a Members Only Fan Forum for Wednesday 26th February 26 at 1830hrs at the Terrace Lounge Bar; coincidentally owned by employee Declan Kelly and former CEO Paul Kelly. This venue was selected for a ‘clear the air’ meeting with fans after the sacking of Alistair Edwards in December, and it was felt that a relaxed atmosphere with specially priced drinks would be the ideal way to calm some fans angered by another coach being shown the door.
Edwards was the fourth coach to be shown the door by owner Tony Sage since he took over the A- League club in 2007. He has also gone through a similar number of CEOs in that time, meaning the club has constantly lacked stability.
The meeting on the 26th will come three days after the seven year anniversary of Mr Sage taking over the A-League license, at the time along with John Spence and Brett McKeon, both who have long since flown the coop. The question on many fans lips is seven years down the track is the club in a better position than it was when the three came out of the shadows to take over the reins?
No one can criticise Tony Sage for sinking money that he was never likely to see a return on into the club. However as many of his business associates will tell you he has used that ownership to gain access to a great number of people in business; owning a football club carries a certain cache and Mr Sage has capitalised on that, mainly to benefit his other business interests rather than necessarily the benefitting the club.
He has continually played up to the cameras and the media, which has in turn helped raise his own profile in and around Perth; He has been able to get away with an obvious lack of knowledge on the game, frequently using the wrong terminology, simply because some sections of the media are sycophantic, and because others don’t know any better, and could not care less about the game.
It was interesting to hear former Liverpool star John Barnes speak this week during his visit to Perth how when the flamboyant Elton John owned Watford and they were in the top division in English football, the Manager Graham Taylor told him how he must behave for the sake of the club. As a result Elton was always seen in a suit at games. As Barnes said Elton John never wanted to harm the club he loved, so was happy to curb his flamboyancy. A lesson not only for Mr Sage but many of the owners of A League licences.
With yet another Police raid on Mr Sage’s businesses last week many fans feel that the time has come for him to step aside or at least step down as Chairman of the club. His sometimes outrageous outbursts were tolerated, his threatening to quit the club became tiresome, but the links with the Police and various other government bodies, are the final straw, bringing yet more unwanted publicity to the club.
The Club will tell you that crowds are up this season, which is positive, but Not The Footy Show was advised that membership was in fact down and many of the club’s long term members have walked away in the past two years, as bit by bit the management stripped away the benefits of being a member. One long term member telling us he would not renew his membership under the current ownership.
Seven years of broken promises have many of the fans feeling itchy. The delay on appointing a new coach, and yet the club opting to commit players to new contracts is simply not the way football clubs are run, and will result in a new coach taking at least a season to weed out those he doesn’t want and work out who he does.
The club had its greatest success when there was some structure on the playing side and it was being run by people who knew football, but internal politics and a push for control saw David Hatt’s review used as a vehicle to change everything that was actually bringing results where it matters on the pitch. Ian Ferguson managed to keep many of those structures in place to ensure a Grand Final berth. Currently a repeat of a Grand Final appearance looks to be a very long way away, as the club again has taken backward steps in 2013/14.
So is it time for Tony Sage to put the best interests of the club first? Is it time he slipped into the background and stepped down as Chairman and trusted the running of the club to people who are better placed and experienced run a football club, and who can raise it back up to where the fans deserve it to be? Those fans and the people of Western Australia deserve Perth Glory to return to being one of the most envied and well run clubs in the country.
Tell us what you think?