It seems Perth Glory can do little right at the moment. After last week telling its members that the club still believed a place in the finals was achievable the team was beaten by table toppers Brisbane Roar, a result that saw them slip to bottom of the ladder following Melbourne Heart’s win over Melbourne Victory. No official comment by way of a press release came from the club after the game. Then on Sunday evening word started to filter out that in most people’s opinion, their best player this season, goalkeeper Danny Vukovic was being released on loan to Japanese club Vegalta Sendai, effective immediately. Still no statement was sent out by the club.
To make matters worse as various media outlets tried to chase down if rumours of his departure were true, the club opted to play favourites with one outlet and only confirmed the news to them. A very foolish move, very foolish indeed, but not that surprising. Last season and again this season Not the Footy Show was told that they could not speak to anyone from the club as we were ‘overly critical.’ On both occasions the person relaying that message on behalf of the club was not 100% honest in explaining how this decision was reached, and foolishly thought that we would not be able to check their explanation.
As a media outlet we are small fry compared to the television stations, but it never pays to have the media offside. Football administrators across the country forget that for many years it was the community stations and newspapers that kept football alive in the media. On the wave of success that the Socceroos had and then the surge in interest in the A-League administrators thought they could shun these outlets and only court the mainstream media. Sadly as the Socceroos struggle, as do many A-League clubs, that coverage is dipping; it doesn’t help when key sponsors such as Qantas and Optus withdraw and the crowd statistics suddenly become based on a mean average rather than a true reflection of the figures. The ball is spinning and the administrators trying to maintain interest and coverage.
Perth Glory have slipped further and further behind in terms of media coverage as they have continually alienated people trying to give the game coverage. This weekend’s actions were foolish in the extreme. Many of the news editors who saw their reporters shunned or given the cold shoulder will simply say “why bother?” Why would you send a reporter and a cameraman to training or a press conference when the club is saving all of the real information for one station? These actions once again confirm that the club has the wrong people running it. The club should be doing everything that they can to keep the media on side, not alienate them. The more coverage they can garner the better. They should be the one’s breaking the stories rather than confirming or denying them. They need to be pro-active rather than re-active; but they have not been the former for at least three seasons.
It is a major blow for the team and the club to lose Danny Vukuvic at this point in the season. He has had an outstanding season. That is why he is headed to Japan to hopefully continue playing football well after the A-League season is finished to keep himself fit in the reckoning for the third goalkeeper spot at the World Cup in June. One would hope that the Glory have stipulated if he is to go on loan that he will indeed be playing for former national coach Graham Arnold’s Vegalta Sendai, as to release him for him to sit on the bench would seem foolish. We wish Danny well and hope he achieves his dream.
The other thing that his loan throws up is a failing by the FFA to come up with a way to help the national coach. With Australia having the lowest number of players playing top flight football in Europe for ten years, Ange Postecoglou is going to have to dip into the A-League to select players for his World Cup Squad. Rather than damaging the A-League and hurting clubs and fans as players like Vukovic understandably opt for loan moves to keep their chances of selection open, why did the FFA not try and find a way to keep the local players playing? Create a post season tournament, simply to keep them playing through April and May before Postecoglou commences his World Cup Camp. We witnessed the same situation four years ago, but it would appear no one had the vision to try and think of a way to keep players in Australia and protect the integrity of the A-League. Surely we learned some lessons from four years ago?
Finally worrying for Perth Glory fans was the sentence at the end of the news stories on Vukovic’s loan deal to Japan which stated that ‘the deal includes an option for Sendai to buy Vukovic at the conclusion of the five-month term.’ Only in September did Perth Glory announce that Vukovic, one of their key players, had signed a new three year deal to stay at the club. Fans have a right now to question whether any agreements made by the club have any validity.
Many thought things could not get any worse for the club, but it looks like they can. Many loyal fans feeling that the lack of an announcement or statement from the club is the last straw, and shows a lack of respect for them as fans, and it is hard to argue against that view.