Palmer sets the bar low for Gold Coast
Thursday, November 19 2009 @ 07:55 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
Although there is clearly a battle between the football codes in Australia for the hearts and minds of fans, we don't encourage readers to be too critical of any sport, as they all have their upside and many supporters and players enjoy multiple codes.
But it was galling to see soccer club Gold Coast United's billionaire owner, Clive Palmer, bagging the new AFL club, suggesting the Gold Coast would fold within three years (reported back in May, see Football codes continue to position themselves). The gloating was short-lived.
It was somewhat ironic a few weeks ago to see Palmer under fire not from rival codes but the Australian soccer fraternity, with his decision to cap "crowds" at Gold Coast United's home games to 5000 people. After pulling very small numbers and with one of those odd stadium deals whereby his club has to pay a premium to the Queensland government, which runs the stadium, for crowds above 5000 (presumably negotiated assuming a lot more than 5000, so overall a net profit), Palmer drew the ire of the A-League and Gold Coast's own small fan base. The result was just 2616 in attendance for a relatively high profile match against North Queensland Fury, which featured well known English player Robbie Fowler. The poor numbers must have been all the more disturbing given United were one of the stand out teams of the year.
Rather than accept any shortcomings with his club, Palmer slated home the blame to the A-League and soccer in Australia as a whole. He claimed it was reasonable to expect only 5000 to home games. After the dismally small showing of 2616 the 5000 cap was rescinded. At time of writing they average about 4000 per game.
One hopes, and expects, that the Gold Coast Football Club never dip as low as 2616 fans in their first year.