The jockeying for position across Australia continues, with Australian Football, soccer, Rugby League and Rugby Union continuing to seek opportunities to expand. The AFL has confirmed the Gold Coast for 2011 and maintains 2012 as the preferred date for Western Sydney, though there are some concessions that it could be pushed out depending on circumstances. Tasmania is also being publically discussed more favourably as a future option, although no real timetable or mechanism has been set.
The A League (soccer) has a free kick to establish itself in Tassie if it wishes. Currently the state government is investigating whether to bid for a licence. The league already has 8 clubs across Australia and New Zealand, and has been focussing along the heavily populated stretch from Sydney to Brisbane. The coming season will see Gold Coast and North Queensland teams, and Gold Coast United's billionaire owner Clive Palmer has predicted that the AFL's Gold Coast club will fold within three years. "The biggest loser's going to be GC17 and Australian rules itself. I give them three years they'll be gone (by 2014)".
Richard Pratt has died after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 74. In a media release from the AFL, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Demetriou last night said the AFL commission and Staff wished to pass on their sincere condolences to the family of the late Richard Pratt.
Mr. Demetriou said Mr. Pratt had made an enormous contribution to Australian life and his work within football was often not realised by the wider community. “Mr. Pratt played a pivotal role in forming and bringing out the Peace Team last year (pictured) to play in the AFL International Cup. This team brought together Palestinians and Israelis on the sporting field for the first time -- a monumental achievement."
Anzac Day is linked most significantly with Aussie Rules football in the modern day by the Collingwood v Essendon clash as the MCG, which in recent years has seen big crowds attend. This is largely due to the families and diggers who move across to the footy after the ANZAC Day parade and commemoration at the Shrine. Those two AFL clubs usually have the day to themselves but this year with the day falling on a Saturday the AFL has scheduled Hawthorn v West Coast at Aurora Stadium, North Melbourne v Richmond at Docklands and Fremantle v Sydney Swans at Subiaco, all later in the day. Significant tributes to those that have served their country in the armed forces are always part of the day.
Locally the Anzac Day Act would prevent any footy played before 1pm but the Victorian State Government and the RSL announced this week that suburban footy matches could start at any time on Saturday, if they included a minute's silence and recognition of the day. But footy has become linked not just in Melbourne, or in Australia – but around the world with clubs getting together for matches, tournaments or just to get together to watch the MCG clash as part of their own Anzac Day commemorations.
We have put together a list below of some of these events.
At the 2008 International Cup dinner those attending were treated to a great video package put together mostly during the event but also containing footage from the Peace Team's preparation in their homeland. The man behind the moving tribute to the players of the tournament, Rob Dickson along with his young son Byron died after a car accident on the road between Sun City and Pretoria in South Africa. His wife Dusty and son Gabriel were also injured in the accident and are currently being treated in hospital. Our thoughts are with his family and the family of his wife Dusty who along with Gabriel are still in a South African hospital.
Dickson also produced the recently released "The Essence of the Game" documentary which profiled the game's 150th year and featured the International Cup and in particular the Peace Team. Dickson's football background was highlighted by his time with Hawthorn (17 games) and the Brisbane Bears (2 games). Many Australians will best remember him for winning the Channel Nine television reality show Australian Survivor.
Going back into the WFN archives Dickson was also involved in a Vietnam footy tour CARE AFL All Stars meet Hanoi Swans for HIV/AIDS awareness. Dickson was due to meet up with the AIS AFL Academy tour next week and it seemed he would continue to tell the story of the emergence of international football talent on film for some time to come. Dickson was clearly a man with a broad vision for all aspects of the game, and the game will be poorer for his loss.
A quick update for fans following the fortunes of international players in the Australian Football League. They will have been hoping to see Irishman Setanta O'hAilpin get a recall to Carlton this week, and countryman Colm Begley play his first game for his second club, St Kilda. Similarly Canadian Mike Pyke who is close to making his AFL debut for Sydney.
Unfortuntately for all three players they will miss out this week (unless there are late changes), with them all named as emergencies for their clubs (meaning they can be called in if for example there is an injury before the match). Essendon's Michael Quinn has retained his spot in their side after his promising debut last week.
PNG's Stanis Susuve has been named as rover (on the ball) for the Gold Coast in their Round 2 TAC Cup match this weekend against Western Jets down in Victoria - the Coast's first away game. Starting on the ball indicates Susuve has clearly impressed in his short time with the new club.
With an ever increasing array of international talent in the AFL, or players with strong/recent international links/heritage, it's timely to review how some of them are going now that the 2009 season is underway. Beyond the breakthrough of getting an AFL contract, it remains an uphill battle. In fact for the current crop it seems the biggest challenge at the moment is just getting past injuries to make it onto the field.
Google Australia today got into the April Fool's Day theme with the unveilling of the "gBall". While the use of GPS technology has clearly come into play in the coverage and analysis of AFL matches, its introduction into the actual gameball is yet to become a reality.
The Gball product is described as follows "This weekend around the country, the gBall(BETA) will change Australian rules football as we know it. Building on our core strength in search, Google was approached by a number of Australian rules football leagues to apply our technology in their search for new talent. In response, Google, in partnership with the official supplier of matchballs to the AFL, Sherrin, has developed the gBall. Incorporating specially developed Google technology, it will be used in all school and amateur competitions - and will go on sale to the public - this weekend."
The Gold Coast Football Club has been awarded the 17th licence to compete in the AFL competition. AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, in a message to the GC17 board said:
"This is an historic decision of the AFL Commission and it is only the sixth time since the AFL Commission was established that a licence has been awarded to a new club.
"It is not a decision that the Commission has made lightly and it has been made after a long period of investment in Queensland and a rigorous process over the past two years in which the Gold Coast football, business and wider communities have made clear their support for and ability to sustain an AFL team.
"It is also a decision that we have made after a rigorous process to validate the business model for a Gold Coast Football Club. We are confident that we grant the licence knowing that you have put in place the foundations to build a strong and sustainable club which will serve well the Gold Coast community".
However, the licence remains subject to finalisation of the agreement between the Queensland State Government and the Gold Coast City Council on the terms by which the land for the stadium will be transferred, and a decision by the Federal Government on further funding for the stadium. Both of these issues are expected to be resolved soon.
The Queensland club debut in the primarily Victorian TAC Cup Under 18s this weekend, and are on track to enter the VFL in 2010 and the AFL in 2011. If a west Sydney side is to be formed for a 2012 AFL debut then major developments are likely to be announced by the end of this year.
As reported in Gold Coast look the goods, only one major hurdle appeared to remain in the path of the Gold Coast Football Club being awarded the 17th AFL licence. That obstacle was that although the state Labor Government of Queensland had committed $60 million towards a rebuild of the Carrara stadium, the Liberal-National Party opposition would not commit.
Happily for the GC17 team, despite the LNP grabbing a small lead in opinion polls coming into the election, yesterday's vote appears to have delivered Labor a comfortable victory, albeit with a reduced margin. This should see the AFL quickly formally award the licence and the Gold Coast FC commence the next wave of off-field recruitment. The club begins in the primarily Victorian Under 18 competition this year, progressing to the VFL in 2010 and now look certain to debut in the AFL in 2011.
The AFL has also re-stated its intention to aim for a 2012 AFL debut for a western Sydney team. See Expansion plans on course.
In other news on the health of the AFL clubs, Port Adelaide recently put their hand out for assistance like that enjoyed by several Melbourne-based clubs. The AFL made it clear such help would not be forthcoming, saying they should negotiate a better stadium deal. However unlike the MCG and Docklands Stadium, Adelaide's AAMI Stadium is owned and operated by football. So unfortunately for football in South Australia, already struggling with crowds down at the Power, an aging main stadium, soccer on the rise and several SANFL clubs living on the edge, it appears the choice is between Port Adelaide and the local state league clubs. If the Power can't turn around their finances and the AFL don't come to the table, expect the SANFL clubs to be the ones that suffer. When the Crows formed, the league contracted from 10 to 9 clubs - perhaps we'll see that shrink again. So the great irony may be that SANFL fans will be barracking for arch enemy Port Adelaide in the hope they return to profit thus saving the need to strip cash from the local sides.
The AFL Commission today approved the immediate introduction of two Laws of the Game for the upcoming 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, after a trial period through the 2009 NAB Cup and NAB Challenge matches. AFL Football Operations Manager Adrian Anderson, Chairman of the Laws of the Game Committee, said the Commission had approved the introduction of two rules trialled through this year's pre-season matches at its monthly meeting in Melbourne today:
a) A free kick can now be awarded for deliberate rushed behinds -- the benefit of the doubt will be given to the defender;
b) Umpires to award a 50 metre penalty against players who tackle, hold or make high contact against an opponent after the opponent has disposed of the football, for the purpose of preventing them from taking part in the next contest;
The trial rule regarding a no-go zone behind umpires at centre bounces will not be introduced in the 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership season but Mr Anderson said the current laws regarding contact with an umpire, where a player can be free-kicked or reported for making contact, would be strictly enforced to protect the safety of umpires. Mr Anderson said the AFL Laws Committee and the Football Operations Department had consulted extensively with the 16 AFL Clubs and the coaching and player groups since early September, and had again sought their feedback through this month after the rules had been trialled through the pre-season.