Whatever Gets You Through the Night

It was in August 2011 that Football West announced that NIB Stadium and its then management company Allia Management had signed on as a “corporate partner for Football West’s community events.”

At the time of the announcement CEO of NIB Stadium Peter Bauchop stated “we are happy to get behind them and bring community matches to a professional playing arena. We envisage that this partnership will offer kids and the broader community opportunities that may not otherwise be available.”

The two bodies combined when the State team has played against South Australia, and in the early days of Football West taking over the running of the Perth Glory W-League side. The team then opted to play games at a venue more conducive to the crowds that came to support the team.

Last week it was announced that the 2016 QBE Night Series Final will be played at NIB Stadium as part of a Double header when Perth Glory take on the Central Coast Mariners on March 12th.

This will obviously be great news for the players and teams that make it through to the Grand Final, as they will have the opportunity to play on one of the best surfaces in the country; which should assist them in showcasing their skills.

This should be good news for the game, and the perfect opportunity to showcase the local game at the highest level, but sadly even a positive move such as this has been met with scepticism; which says a great deal about where the game is at the moment in Western Australia.

The Night Series Final will kick-off at the conclusion of Perth Glory’s match against Central Coast Mariners, which starts at 6.40pm. A game with little appeal with the Mariners languishing down the bottom of the A-League table. Hyundai A-League ticket prices will apply for the two games.

So has this deal been put together purely to try and increase Perth Glory’s home gate? Is it a deal that has been hatched to try and pull back many of the fans of local football who have been disenchanted by the direction shown by Perth Glory in recent years? Is it really more about helping Perth Glory than helping the local game?

Surely it could not be payback? After all Board members are frequently seen as guests of Perth Glory on match days, something that should be declared at all Board meetings when issues such as this are discussed, yet as minutes are not made available to the members we will never know; Unless the Standing Committees request a copy! As we saw with Healthway last year, their Board were deemed to have acted inappropriately when accepting such invitations and hospitality. Perth Glory is after all a Private company and Football West is a community based organisation, to confuse the issue even further is the fact that Perth Glory now plays in many of the local competitions. Surely with that being the case they should not be afforded any special treatment that any other club in a Football West competition receives? These are now very treacherous waters to navigate.

The downside to the final being played at NIB Stadium for the local clubs is that the opportunity to host the final has been taken away from them, another very important revenue raising opportunity. Does that mean that Perth Glory will be sharing a percentage of the revenue generated at this game with the two finalists? If they are, hopefully they will be able to monitor and advise the figure quicker than the club managed with the Lord Mayor’s Relief Fund Collection.

The Night Series final also usually witnesses a good atmosphere in a smaller local stadium and already some are concerned that the number of fans that stay on to watch the game will be extremely sparse in the larger venue and drastically reduce the atmosphere usually created.

The one question that will be the biggest test for the idea is whether those fans who only want to watch the Night Series and have no interest in Perth Glory, or have opted to boycott their games until a new owner comes in will fork out the minimum price of $27.50 for a ticket.

Of course Perth Glory could print their maximum free ticket allowance of 3500 from Ticketmaster and have Football West distribute them to the local clubs and their fans. Yet this would disappoint the 2000 or so fans who are regularly being given free tickets at the current time, and now expect them.

Some fans would like to know if the gates will be open after the Glory game to allow fans who simply wish to watch the Night Series to enter NIB Stadium. While some Glory fans wish to know if the bars will remain open after the Glory game.

It is a great shame that what should be a wonderful opportunity for the players and coaches to experience the thrill of playing in such a stadium, and on the same pitch as the Socceroos graced less than a year ago is being overshadowed by a myriad of other issues. Hopefully these issues were discussed when the deal was being brokered and more details will be revealed in the near future, and in addition to the financial reward for winning provided by the new rights sponsor QBE, the clubs receive a share of the gate; after all as the costs increase they need the money desperately.

Whatever Gets You Through the Night
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