Just as there are more people who claim to have been at “The Miracle Match” at the WACA in 1976, the inverse is it can be just as hard to find people who admit to voting for a political leader or party.
In the past six months following the punishment handed down to Perth Glory for breaching the salary cap last season there have been many who have stated that they will no longer support the Western Australian side as long as the current owner is in charge. How many of these people will actually be true to their word?
Supporting a sporting team however is not as black and white to many. After all it is the team that you support. Players,coaches and owners come and go, but the team remains and your connection with it for whatever reason is always there.
Sure the truth today is that young fans follow players rather than teams, so when their favourite player moves so too does their allegiance, but true fans start supporting a team and stick with it through thick and thin.
There are many of the 2000 fans who have renewed their Perth Glory memberships who fall into this category. They have renewed their membership due to their love of the team and their connection with it. It has nothing to do with how many millions the owner claims he has invested in the team, not the promises of CEO’s that finals football will be achieved. It is simply and purely that this is their team and nothing will break that bond.
There are other fans who still feel a strong connection with the club, who will still go and support the team in the coming season, but their view is they will not take out a membership because they do not want to hand over dollars to the owner in advance. Having been ripped off last season, having paid their money and supported their team what did they receive when the Glory were stripped of a finals berth and relegated down the league table? Their stance is therefore understandable.
Some may have been appeased by the letter from the Chairman, Tony Sage in April, but there were many who did not fall for him dragging his family into the mix and stating he was upset that his children had suffered abuse because of the salary cap breaches. We do not condone that, but maybe he should look at his own actions and consider if they gave cause to such hurt.
The Chairman of the club loves the limelight and always has, many would say that was why he took over the club. The local media pander to his ego rather than ignoring his rantings, they will tell you he gives good sound bytes. Yet the truth is there is very little consistency to what he says if you keep notes of what was said previously, and in truth it has all become very tiresome. No one is truly interested what he has to say. In football terms he may own the club, but his reputation is tarnished.
With his open letter he failed to appreciate that fans feel part of a unique family when they support a club. Did he ever consider how they felt?
In fact he desperately tried to distance himself from the whole issue claiming he knew nothing about the over the top payments. Yet as anyone at the club will tell you he authorised all payments. He said in his letter “We reiterate that all payments were made from the club’s bank account.” Some believe otherwise.
In fact the FFA were quick to put out their own statement soon after. “We noted the Glory chairman’s comments over the weekend in relation to his role in the salary cap situation at Perth. At the very least he says that there were times when he had his hands off the wheel, which is obviously unacceptable. So now we have both the CEO and the chairman taking responsibility for what led to the salary cap breaches. All of that points to a complete breakdown in proper corporate governance,” FFA chief executive David Gallop said.
What is interesting is even after the sanctions from the FFA the club still continued to deny it had done anything wrong. Even in his resignation statement CEO Jason Brewer stated “There have been no so called “secret” or “third party” payments made on behalf of the club.”
The truth is they accepted the sanctions and dropped the court action against the FFA following the two parties meeting, because the legal costs to both parties were escalating out of control and were going to continue to do so. Someone had to take the fall and Jason Brewer was the sacrificial lamb. The FFA did not really want to dig any deeper into Perth Glory as they face enough ownership issues within the A-League and also did not have the manpower to do so. Perth Glory certainly did not want any more investigation.
Yet last week in a release titled “Andy Keogh Update” the club wrote “Perth Glory exhausted every avenue to resolve certain terms and conditions relating to Keogh’s contract from last year and offered him a new and transparent deal that did not breach the salary cap.” Which would imply finally an admission that they did in fact break the salary cap in relation to Andy Keogh last season.
In situations such as this it is better to come clean. Accept responsibility for your actions. Just as if a player lashes out he gets a red card and is sent of and suspended. He will almost always admit that he let the side down and the fans, and that he is sorry for his actions.
One of the things that rankles with many fans is that there has been no real apology for what transpired last year. The closest the club came to actually saying ‘sorry’ was in Jason Brewer’s parting statement when he said “I unreservedly apologise to the staff, sponsors, members, fans and players of Perth Glory for the position in which the club finds itself in.”
Thousands of fans invested in the club both emotionally and financially, and many are torn between their loyalty to the club and their dislike and distrust of the club’s owner. A man who they feel has yet to actually say the word ‘sorry,’ and who when he did try to apologise once again turned the situation into being all about him.
Perth Glory has never been about one man, it never was and it never will be. It is about so much more than that, football is about so much more. Yet sadly until the current owner realises that as a business it will continue to struggle and fans will be placed in a very awkward position, to support the team and to some extent the owners regime. Or to stay away and support from outside the ground until there is new ownership.