Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Roar - Its Woes and its Women

Marco Monteverde over at the Courier Mail is often worth keeping an eye on because he breaks stories. The headline of the linked article, "Roar is banking on Robbie Fowler to lift crowd numbers," hides the true importance of the story however, much of which is exclusive quotes from Roar chairman Chris Bombolas. For some reason the Courier Mail failed to publish my comment on the story, so I better blog...

The headline does reinforce the basic tragedy we are witnessing. The Roar is clearly in trouble. Bombolas states, "I'd be lying if we didn't say we were worried... The bottom line is we need to get some results now. Winning might get a few more people back. ... We keep making excuses and we keep talking it up, we keep saying that we had all the chances, but we're just not winning." Coming from the top these are seriously concerned comments, and they are the context for the hope that Robbie Fowler will bring a crowd to Suncorp tomorrow night. In short, there is just no hope here.

We've had the big talked-up 'game we have to win' against Melbourne a few weeks back, and we lost, and the publicity barely brought any new numbers. Then we lost again, against bottom-of-table Adelaide, to the worst crowd ever. It was over a year ago that we gathered the Roar was in trouble, needing an average 15,000 at Suncorp to break even. All the information is there for us to know, regardless of any new spin, that the Roar is in very serious trouble indeed; that the Roar is in danger as a franchise.

But are they learning? No they're not. Sure they stupidly tried to get the books balanced by radically increasing ticket prices, but now that they've 'listened to the fans' (cough) and made them cheaper than ever they've managed to a) piss off the season ticket holders who rightly feel ripped off, b) fail to bring back the crowds and c) made it even more glaringly obvious that their trouble is chronic and not just a blip. If they weren't breaking even before, now we're aware with every game that they are digging a large pit of debt.

Sacking Frank Farina, and hence (apparently) losing their high profile players, was also stupid, but I guess there's no going back. They are left with a team that is not only failing on the park and failing to draw crowds, but is not even more implicitly interesting than, say, the Brisbane Strikers, who are virtually free to watch.

They're left with a humble, but surprisingly loyal, fan base following a humble, but surprisingly gifted, team. All is not lost but the whole operation clearly needs to adjust its boot size downward.

But we get this news: "Despite the poor crowds the Roar remain committed to signing a new tenancy deal at Suncorp Stadium."

Are these people completely stupid? "To have 5000 in a 52,500 capacity stadium is a crying shame, but we've got to stay at the best stadium that will cater for corporates, the general public and the players," Bombolas says, then asks, "Where is the alternative?"

Well Ballymore is fine for the 'general public' - actually I love it. I can't see the problem for the players, but hell, give the dressing rooms a paint job if that's necessary. The real ones that Bombolas is clearly concerned about is 'corporates'. What I want to know is who? What's the story? Which sponsor is it who have threatened to pull the plug if they leave Suncorp? Reading between the lines, it is clear that at least one has. Is it Coffee Club, Luxury Paints, or someone else? Whoever it is, they're going to kill the club.

"You can't expect corporates and sponsors who put in their hard earned dollars to be in facilities that are very dated."

Which ones have made it clear to you, Bombolas, that they won't support The Roar at Ballymore?

"Ballymore's not ready."

Ah, so by this can I educe the excellent news that there are efforts to make Ballymore ready? No, I can't can I? There's no Plan B is there? We stay at Suncorp, which utterly fails for the small fan base, because the 'corporates' won't support a smaller venue. I've never been brilliant at maths but this is an equation I can cope with. Answer: The Roar is fucked.

See also on 442, Roar's Ghost Town Fear.

The Good News

Thank the soccer gods for the Roar Women. They won a tough semi-final against Central Coast on Sunday and will be in the Grand Final against Sydney away this Saturday. It's being televised on the ABC at 3pm (Brisbane time).

Along with my progressive disillusionment with the Men's team, and with the Roar Board and, let's face it, with the FFA, I have had the delight of watching the W-League throughout its short season and loved every minute. It has been very inexpensive ($5 for home games), I've got to watch one game on free-to-air TV every week, it has lived up to its 'football with style' slogan with free, attacking, uncynical football, and has been played at a wonderful stadium with free parking (Ballymore). To Westfield and whoever else helps this competition happen, my sincere thanks.

For a pre-match review of the Grand Final, I can't compete with Fiona Crawford at 442, who has given great coverage to the W-League all season, along with blogger Merryn Sherwood at Girls With Game.

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Blogger john said...

Great article Hamish
Just one thing 'It was over a year ago that we gathered the Roar was in trouble, needing an average 15,000 at Suncorp to break even.'

The Club has been struggling for all 5 years.

December 19, 2009 12:14 pm  
Blogger john said...

Thanks Hamish.
So true. Yet I laughed reading it.

I was very disillusioned before Wednesday night. Then 11,500 people made me feel better. The atmosphere was great. Agree it would be better at a smaller venue. Interesting Roar are already talking about leaving Ballymore (don't how serious).

What really bucked me up on Wednesday was bumping into 5 different groups of people who have no connection who know me well and don't know each other (yet) who I only know because of the Roar. For me, that is good.

December 19, 2009 12:24 pm  
Blogger Ed Vegas said...

Shame about the grand final, but well done to the Roaress' on a a great season! Could not get a stream over here.

December 20, 2009 1:04 pm  

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