Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Will the new owners be good for the Reds?

Adelaide United's new owners are unveiled
The A-League received a big boost yesterday when Football Federation Australia announced it had reached an agreement with an SA-based consortium to take over ownership of Adelaide United.

Having stepped in to take over the club in 2009 when then owner Nick Bianco withdrew his support, the FFA came close to selling the club earlier this year to a consortium headed up by Alan Young, however that deal fell over at the last hurdle.

But will the new owners, headed up by well known South Australian Rob Gerard, be all their cranked up to be?

Unfortunately, even after just one day, I am having doubts.

First their was the claim by fellow investor and new Chairman, lawyer Greg Griffin that, “We're not here to lose money, we're actually here to make it.”

Make money? Owning a Football Club? Perhaps they should ask any of the other A-League owners how that is going for them, or any owner of any Football Club across the world.

Football Clubs are an investment, not a profit-making exercise. How do they plan to make that money? Is it by cutting costs back and running the club on a shoe-string, or by initially investing large sums in order to see a return in the future?

When the A-League was formed we were told clubs would start turning a profit by season five. Only Melbourne Victory and Central Coast have managed to record a profit in the first five years, the rest aren’t even close.

What happens if, after a year or two, they’re still no closer to breaking even (let alone turning a profit), will they stick it out or bail and run like Don Matheson did in Townsville and like Clive Palmer threatened to do on the Gold Coast?

On the plus side, they have said they’ll target a marquee player (hopefully one who is actually a marquee in the true sense of the word), so at least that demonstrates that they are prepared to spend some money.

The other concerning aspect of the new owners is their insistence on linking the club with local SANFL club, North Adelaide.

Three of the four new owners have strong links to North Adelaide, so you can understand their desire for both clubs to work more closely, but is it really going to be beneficial?

Talk of sharing backroom and admin staff is slightly concerning given that Football is now a full-time professional job and “sharing” administration between the two clubs could lead to all sorts of issues.

What happens in winter when SANFL is in full-swing and the A-League is in its off-season, does North Adelaide take precedence over Adelaide United?

I’m not so sure sharing facilities is the right way to go, either.

Adelaide United’s home, in every sense, is Hindmarsh Stadium. They play there, they train there and their administration is based there.

Why possibly move their administration staff from their home and Adelaide’s only decent Football stadium to a new location?

Adelaide is probably the only A-League club that can claim to have a true home ground. They’re the only tenant and driving past it is clear that Hindmarsh is Adelaide United’s ground.

From a study trip to Europe in 2008, Director of Football, Michael Petrillo recommended that Adelaide United consider establishing its own training facility away from Hindmarsh, similar to of AC Milan at Milanello.

This is something that every A-League club should be aiming towards, it has many more benefits that just being a place for the team to train. Central Coast are the first A-League club to head down this path with their Centre of Excellence in Tuggerah.

Yet, as important as this development is, it’s unlikely that it will see the light of day under the new owners plans to share facilities. What use are four or five rectangular training pitches to an SANFL club? In fact, what use is any rectangular stadium for that matter?

Adelaide already use one AFL ground in Thebarton Oval for training purposes, and now it seems likely that Prospect Oval, home of North Adelaide, could become their “home” away from home.

But that is where my issue lies, clubs should be looking to form their own identity, not piggy back on other clubs from another code.

What message does it send to have Adelaide’s premier Football team training on an AFL ground?

Code-sharing is dangerous as inevitably one code will always have to be the dominant one, I’m just not sure which side of the fence the new owners sit.

For the sake of Adelaide United I hope it’s on their side. If not, it could get ugly.



  1. It's not necessarily a bad thing to be profit-seeking. It just means they'll be mindful of their expenditure and use their money in the most efficient way possible. These guys aren't stupid. They know that by simply cutting costs and not investing in the club it would only lead to a downhill spiral for the club. These guys are successful 'businessmen' so I trust their judgement. They will probably see that the clubs on field performance needs to be good for the 'business' to be good and there is already talk about meeting up with Rini Coolen with the possibility of acquiring a Marquee player in the Jan transfer window. The least we can do is give them the benefit of the doubt and look at this ownership change in a glass half full approach. It's better than having half the league run by the FFA on a shoe-string budget. Their public comments may show lack of 'football administration' experience or etiquette but they'll soon be on the ball.

  2. The league needs some positive news on a local club level and having investors willing to jump in and spend money is good, we just need them to stick around.