One word that has been uttered a great deal in the last week surrounding Perth Glory has been ‘stability.’ Something that has clearly been lacking since Tony Sage took over as owner.
Since taking over as owner of the club in 2007, Mr Sage has had three full time CEO’s and two acting in the role or similar. He is now on his fifth coach having shown four the door.
One of the biggest issues off the pitch has been the employment of business colleagues or friends rather than people with sports administration backgrounds. One has to ask is this not in itself a form of the buzz word at the club, nepotism? Working and being involved in a football club, or any sporting club, is a dream job for many, but it is far from a 9-5 job. IT is hard work, ask any employee at any successful sporting organisation, the hours are random and the pay is never the greatest. Many view it a privilege to be a part of such an organisation and work in a field that they are passionate about, this is what drives the staff to achieve.
The Glory has stumbled along in recent years due to not employing enough experts in the various fields. Running a football club is very different to running a normal business, although many of the same principles apply. In the normal workforce you do not have players sitting in the stands watching others doing the work, and rarely happy about it. In other jobs you do not have the public voicing their opinions so passionately and wanting to be advised as to what is going on within what they perceive as, their company. It is a tough juggling act, and communicating via social media is never going to be enough.
The appointment last week of Declan Kelly as Director of Football Operations and Communications would appear to be a step in the right direction. The reasons given for the appointment were so that “there is clear lines of communication open for the football department through to the CEO and the Board.” In most football clubs the coach will meet with the CEO on a weekly basis and he is aware of what is happening around the club, but it would appear that this was clearly not the case before last week. Maybe because of a lack of experience on the CEO’s part or because he still has his own businesses to run away from the club.
Rather ironically the creation of such a role would appear to fly in the face of the Hatt Review carried out in 2011 which highlighted that a similar role, although titled Director of Football was unnecessary. As a result the incumbent Dave Mitchell, and many other employees with experience in football were shown the door; as one wag said this weekend maybe it should have been called the “Hatchet Review.” for the staff departures seemed to have a far more to do with internal politics than best business practices.
Stability is always going to be hard to achieve when coaches futures are linked to making finals, rather than building foundations for continuous finals appearances and success, as both Ron Smith and Alistair Edwards were tasked to do. It has been proven that patience is a virtue lacking at Perth Glory.
One thing that cannot be denied is that the most stable period during Mr Sage’s ownership of the club whether fans like it or not, was the period from Dave Mitchell’s tenure as coach and when he moved upstairs and Ian Ferguson took over. The club achieved that finals dream and even made it to the Grand Final under Ferguson. One of the reasons for that success despite Mr Hatt’s recommendations, and this has come from those at the coalface, is that the structures put in place on the playing side ensured professionalism and stability. It was a time when both facets of the club, administration and football seemed in sync, and that there was actually communication between the two. The club, the players and the long suffering fans benefitted from those structures and stability.
It is good that the club has realised that such a position is key to offering that stability. No one can question Mr Kelly’s passion for the game, or his business resume to take on such a role, one thing is for sure the day to day issues that crop up in a playing squad, will give him some very unique challenges.