First of all let us say that as lovers of sport and especially football we are grateful for the money that Tony Sage has sunk into Perth Glory to enable Western Australia to have a team in the national competition, the Hyundai A League. Many appreciate it, although sadly many do not come through the turnstiles and support the club.
There are a myriad of reasons why this is the case, but one of the reasons is that for all his good intentions Mr. Sage polarizes the community.
Talk to most fans of the World Game in Western Australia and they will tell you they either love Mr. Sage or they simply cannot stand him.
Many of those who are against him do not like the fact that his profile on many occasions appears to be more important than that of the club that he owns. An argument in his defence on this occasion would be that surely a man who sinks millions into a club for little or no return is entitled to benefit from that investment in some way?
There are others who find his constant outbursts on all manner of issues embarrassing and ultimately detrimental to the club as a whole; again when you sacrifice millions are you entitled to say what you think?
The sad truth is that Perth Glory despite their performances on the pitch last season no longer excite the general public as a sporting event for which they will rush for tickets. The fact that they were unable to fill NIB stadium for either of their home finals is proof that the club has fallen a very long way in the public’s opinion in recent years, even though the A League is a far better competition than the old NSL.
Now we see Mr. Sage embroiled in another public stoush, which will not endear him to Rugby League fans, because now their sport is gaining media attention for all the wrong reasons.
Mr. Sage helped salvage former Rugby League star Ben Elias’ Chameleon Mining when the company he chairs Cape Lambert Resources formed a ”strategic partnership” that gave Cape Lambert control of half the Chameleon board and a fixed and floating charge over the miner’s assets in 2010. In return ex Balmain star Ben Elias was made a board member of Perth Glory. Earlier this year Cape Lambert upped its stake in Chameleon and the board was reduced to just three members: chairman Elias, executive director Sage and solitary non executive director Paul Kelly, who is also the chief executive of the Glory. Then earlier this month it changed its name to Kupang Resources. It is important to know this when looking at the bid for the Western Australian NRL Franchise.
It was late last year that Mr. Sage decided to back Mr. Elias late surge to try and lay claim to the hoped for Western Australian franchise to join the expanded NRL.
Rather than being lauded and welcomed with open arms by the Rugby League community the bid appears to have rubbed many up the wrong way. Many have worked long and hard to position Western Australia as the perfect place for a new Franchise team, and the fans of League know the time and effort that has been invested and are loathe to let someone come in and steal the glory – if you will excuse the pun – at the eleventh hour.
With Perth Glory losing millions a year one has to question the motives behind backing a new franchise in another sport, which is unlikely to see a return on investment in the first three years. Maybe these losses could be written off against tax?
The last thing Rugby League needs is a public slanging match to de-rail all of the hard work to get the bid to this stage, and that is why many are very wary of accepting Mr. Sage’s possibly well-intentioned motives. They know that he will undoubtedly at times also attract unwanted publicity. The fact that this has already started before he has been awarded the licence will not help his cause.
For the sake of the game Not The Footy Show would ask that both parties try and keep their differences under wraps and their bickering behind closed doors, as it is not good for the game as a whole.