"But the game had stopped sir!" -- Mitch Langerak
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
"But the game had stopped sir!" -- Mitch Langerak
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Wednesday, 12 February 2014
"Let the baby have his bottle" - Bushy
This week the lads are all over the beer, banners and Bunnings chairs that have dominated the A-League highlights. Oh and if we get around to it, the meaning of life. Operating from a soundless bunker somewhere in our nation's capital, the Scramble have the word!
Posted by Laurence Plant at 2/12/2014 08:42:00 pm
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
The Roar would love to keep him, and the Brisbane fans adore him. The Roar’s Albanian ace Besart Berisha needs no introduction. So what’s the problem?
I can see why Roar fans may feel hard done by. I mean Berisha (who’s currently playing on a much lower salary than he will play for at Victory), was a genuine find, a diamond in the rough.
The counter-argument (there’s always a counter-argument) runs something like this. The salary cap is necessary to guarantee the financial sustainability of the all the A-League clubs; to make sure that every A-League fan follows a club capable of winning the League; and to ensure that clubs are forced to turn to new local talent to round out their squads.
But the truth is that Rugby League – another competition with a massive disparity in the financial capacity of its clubs – is a better for it. The net result is that on any given Sunday, any team can beat the other.
And the A-League is no different. Berisha is probably the biggest example so far of a talented and popular player being forced out of a successful club due to salary cap restrictions. There will be more to come.
City bring the kind of financial muscle and football nous that not even the Roar’s rich owners could match. The result would not only be extremely boring, but would probably result in mass bankruptcy, as the other A-League clubs struggled to bolster their squads.
The reality is that even now, things are not equal in terms of A-League drawing areas – compare Brisbane’s three million residents to Newcastle’s 500,000. If the financial flood gates were opened the Jets would never be able to keep up financially with the Roar, let alone a City global football conglomerate.
To their credit, the Roar fans have taken Berisha’s move with extremely good grace – much the same as Victory did when their country called on Ange. And these fans can claim the moral high-ground if in future, a salary cap fire-sale breaks in their favour.
GMS Podcast | Every Wednesday Night
Posted by Laurence Plant at 2/11/2014 09:09:00 pm
Thursday, 6 February 2014
The dogged resurgence of Heart, Phoenix, and Adelaide, has added an extra layer of spice in the competition for finals spots in 2014. The result, is that we now head into a round 18 where every single game is a vital 6-pointer.
But it hasn’t always been this way. After five or six rounds of the competition, last year’s bottom four (Wellington, Newcastle, Heart, Sydney) were again in lowly position, and some were questioning whether we already knew which teams would miss out.
Given their disappointing results, Sydney, Heart, Newcastle, Phoenix and Adelaide, might have been forgiven for shutting up shop and focussing on a rebuild for 2015. However, to their credit, these teams’ dogged pursuit of improvement has seen them turn their seasons around.
Posted by Laurence Plant at 2/06/2014 06:31:00 pm
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Posted by Laurence Plant at 11/20/2013 10:15:00 pm
Friday, 15 November 2013
What will be giving Aloisi real heart burn will be that in a winnable game for Heart, his team looked disorganised and almost disinterested in what was a key result for manager and Club.
Posted by Laurence Plant at 11/15/2013 11:26:00 pm
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
The referees themselves know something needs to change – earlier this year the League’s top referees threatened strike action over demands that the game’s only non-professional parties finally become professional. The FFA quickly negotiated a truce which involved some extra training and development provisions, but for now their most important representatives remain distracted by their day jobs.
A-League fans are being asked to accept that semi-pro referees can continue to keep up with a rapidly professionalising A-League. That this situation is increasingly untenable was fittingly illustrated by the Perth vs Sydney FC offside call in round five – the official simply hadn’t the legs to keep up with the game he was officiating, and subsequently wasn’t in line with the players to make a clear offside call.
A refereeing “crisis” will likely inspire a knee-jerk reaction like the introduction of video refs. Here’s a novel idea: why not pragmatically deal with the refereeing issue now, before the FFA’s hand is forced into a hyperextension by an explosive backlash?
In football defence is attack, and vice-versa. Our coaches drill the players with the skills necessary to work together, and then rely on the team’s cohesion to manufacture chances on goal. Each minute is filled with passages of play that have never been seen before and will never be seen again. Stopping the beautiful game for up to two minutes whilst a faceless official endlessly examines close up pixilation of a hand straying offside will undermine everything that makes football great.
To subject the beautiful game to such conjecture would be to lose not only one of the fundamental values of sport – accepting the call of the umpire – but would rob ourselves of the greatest elation that football has to offer its fans. And it does not even guarantee accuracy – often even when slowed down to 100ths of frames, often a video cannot clearly illustrate definitely when a ball crossed a line, because of the speed with which it moves.
The problem is referees who are not well versed enough in the rules of the game to be able to apply the correct offside ruling from a throw-in. Who are not physically fit enough to keep up with the speed of professional players, and in lagging miss a clear offside. Who are not given the time to mentally and physically prepare to hold one of the most important offices in our game.
It is time for the FFA to give deserved support to its most valuable representatives – the only representatives that most fans see. With five games a week, there are fifteen professional officials required across Australia and New Zealand. Let’s develop them, hire them, and get on with the game.
Posted by Laurence Plant at 11/12/2013 08:13:00 pm
Monday, 11 November 2013
FFA Coaching Conference: NPL clubs should pay all coaches U12 - NPL but not players. Which club will lead?
The recent Coaching Conference in Canberra asked local National Premier League Clubs to refrain from paying players - and pay your coaches instead.
Coaches are undertaking expensive courses and give many hours of their time so kids and adults can play in the NPL.
But how many Coaches are being paid, at your Canberra club?
Already clubs around town are trying to poach players by offering payments or higher payments than their current club. Some have offered to double what a player is getting at his current club.
So where does the money come from for these NPL players? Gate money? Stop laughing!
Well if players were paid based on the crowd they pulled in no-one in Canberra would be paid.
An increasing source of revenue for the NPL clubs is their juniors. Different clubs charge different fees for U12 - U18. I wonder why?
No doubt some is siphoned off to pay their leading male players.
You wonder what amount of money is wasted on player wages across the men's premier league season.
And it is wasted as no sooner does a player bunker down at one club, he heads to a rival club for presumably more money.
Mike Charlesworth, owner of the Central Coast Mariners, has called for junior playing fees to be reduced. Canberra National Premier League Clubs by stopping player payments could show they were really interested in promoting and developing their club.
Imagine if any of our 8 Premier League clubs came out and said we'll pay all coaches but not our players.
What an interesting culture you could develop. And how you could take pressure off these NPL clubs in a financial sense.
Should anyone really be paying players to play in Canberra to play football?
Only Canberra United players should be paid and they regularly train 5 times a week and attract close to 1,000 people per game. Can any men's Premier League club match that?
What is the benefit to any club of paying players in Canberra? And which club(s) has a focus on coach and player development rather than win, by paying players, at all costs?
Posted by Eamonn at 11/11/2013 04:31:00 pm
Wednesday, 6 November 2013
If you have been following the Socceroos since 2006, or just reading the blogs and articles over the last few years you'd know Australia owed a massive debt to our 2006 player group.
It's the bulk of that squad that got us to the 2010 and now 2014 World Cup. We say thank you.
To one and all.
And while we have all looked to the future, it took some of the guys at SBS, and in the media, along time to realise where we needed to head.
Few called for heads before the 2010 World Cup. And it was only at the World Cup itself that the enlightened journos of Aussie football started to sense we needed change. Others pushed their own agenda.
Remember the calls for Richard Porta and Nicky Carle! The targeting of Harry Kewell.
And while Holger Osiek started well with his 2011 Asian Cup performance it was still Harry Kewell, despite his critics, Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer, Tim Cahill, Luke Wilkshire and an ageing addition in Sas Ognenovski that got us to the final.
And the bulk of those guys got us over the line for 2014.
Think Archie Thompson v Iraq in that crucial away win. Or Tim Cahill v Iraq or Oman to name but two. Or Lucas Neill and Sas Ognenovski v Japan, Jordan and Iraq most recently.
Michael Thwaite and Rob Cornthwaite replaced them for the Oman debacle and look what happened there.
And of course Mark Schwarzer a legend of Australian sport who has saved us time and time again since he came onto the scene v Canada way back in 1993. Not as skilled as Bosnich some say - rubbish, The guy has played more international games, more World Cups and lasted much longer than Bozza. What more did he have to do?
And to be publicly attacked, if not directly then indirectly, by Zeljko Kalac at the 2010 World Cup. He stood his ground, dignified, and came out well on top.
And he retired because he was lacking motivation? Ange didn't push him or so it's said publicly but I'm sure if Holger was still here so would Mark. Whatever we salute him, and he goes out having got us to 3 World Cups.
Without Schwarzer there was no John Aloisi penalty and how that would have changed football?
And now Ange with his first squad has announced major changes.
Luke Wilkshire, Archie Thompson, Mark Schwarzer, Sas Ognenovski and Brett Holman all gone.
Not even in the squad.
That's 4 out of 5 regular starters but still some same Ange plays safe. Fourfourtwo are just one who have it all wrong. If you wipe four of your certain starters from the team, in this case the squad, that sends a message to them loud and clear. That ain't playing it safe!
At his press conference when discussing Luke Wilkshire's absence Ange talked for the need for speed from full back under his style of play. That's youth!
Think Brisbane Roar or Melbourne Victory. We need to be fast and mobile. We need to be able to pas and move.
Ivan Franjic, Michael Zullo, Lucas Neill and Alex Wilkinson changes the average age of the back four overnight - if Lucas goes as most think then Rhys Williams, Ryan Mcgowan, Jason Davidson are seemingly able to step in.
The change is on.
While Luke Wilkshire and co may come back from the list wiped, realistically only Brett Holman has a chance. The Ange revolution is on.
This isn't just a squad for the World Cup, with one announcement you can see the 2015 Asian Cup squad shaping up.
Posted by Eamonn at 11/06/2013 06:39:00 pm
Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Wednesday, 16 October 2013
Thursday, 26 September 2013
Thursday, 19 September 2013
Frank Lowry’s ‘stand’ against FIFA is nothing more than futile and embarrassing. It’s an extension of the sour-grapes undercurrent that came from a large section of the Australian Football fraternity in response to our poor polling in the World Cup 2022 bid.
The thrust of the argument against FIFA is that in the light of the move of the tournament to summer, the bid should be declared void and re-held.
Failing this compensation be paid to the tune of $43 million. However, this assertion is quite ridiculous for a number of reasons.
Compo and the null and void bidding process.
Even if the scheduling of the 2022 tournament was a fundamental factor in the bidding process – which it wasn’t – there is no reason why FIFA should be under any obligation to pay compensation for moving the tournament.
The idea that the tournament would be staged precisely in the Jun-Jul period in 2022 (a mere decade after the bidding process) is nothing more than lunacy.
There is no way FIFA could guarantee the tournament would be staged during those specific months with over a decade of planning outlook.
To suggest FIFA should be held to hosting a tournament the size of the cup in a specific month from over a decade out is simply not how business is done.
And believe me, modern football is big business.
FIFA’s argument that the timeframe was indicative only makes perfect sense, and is reflective of how business is done all around the world. There are indicative parts to any bidding process that can then be altered between the successful bidder and the customer as they move towards the realisation of the contract.
It’s how big projects are run. Period.
There is no legitimate reason why FIFA should pay compo to unsuccessful bidders because of a necessary subsequent scheduling change.
If FIFA were to start paying compensation for any minor change in the bid description after the fact, they could well end up paying compensation to every single country that was an unsuccessful bidder. This is because over long timeframes things change.
You could end up with a situation where countries submit nonsense bids, just to give themselves the chance of earning a bit of FIFA compo.
So let’s look at any impact on the bid itself.
The Australian bid was a poorly executed and mismanaged waste of Australian tax payer’s money that was characterised by poor animation and poor planning, and hamstrung by ramshackle oval stadiums, the wrong time zone and weak domestic support for the game.
All of these factors represented a big threat to FIFA’s 2022 world cup popularity and revenue. The quality of our bid was aptly represented by the weird turquoise colour chosen for the merchandise. Not only had Asia just recently hosted the 2002 World Cup, but both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups were to be hosted in the Southern Hemisphere.
There was no logical argument for Australia to host a world cup in either 2018 or 2022, whereas it was quite logical for FIFA to look to host the world cup in a new area with the most growth potential.
And surprise surprise they chose the Middle East. An emerging economic and football region of immense population and nationalities, with the vast potential to grow the game. Especially when compared to poor little Oceania.
And in the Middle East they chose Qatar, a relatively free and politically benign country which has embraced Western ideals of economic freedom and free speech.
Yes Qatar’s human rights record isn’t perfect. But hosting the world cup is the perfect opportunity to engage with Qatar to improve their record. And they were strategically perfect, located in the centre of the world. So yes – not withstanding the heat argument – the Middle East and Qatar was a good choice for FIFA.
The reality is that Australia needs a dose of business and political savvy in the way it deals with FIFA process. It’s not our fault. Australians are straight shooters – guile and vagueness in any dealings is a big cultural taboo. However the rest of the world does not see it in exactly the same way. In Europe often subtle messaging contains the truth, not necessarily the open statement.
When Seth Blatter told Lowy that 2018 was not the right time for Australia, he should have listened – Blatter was telling him we were wasting our time. Instead of ploughing on, believing that his business acumen and sheer will could outweigh the enormous political obstacles in Australia’s way, Lowy should have recalculated, and regrouped to shoot for a world cup that was politically palatable to FIFA.
I reiterate – Asia had just had a world cup. Two in a row were in the Southern Hemisphere. Growth-wise, FIFA had bigger fish to fry. Australia was wasting it’s time and money with our bid, and in the voting it showed.
The Qatari Heat.
Now we come to the subject of summer. The 50 degree heat of the Qatari desert is too hot to play the beautiful game. It would be downright dangerous to try. FIFA knew this at the time, however they were given numerous assurances by the Qatari bid that they would provide adequate mitigation. Among the promises were wholly contained air conditioned stadiums.
However, now it seems that Qatar is unable to guarantee the safety of the players. It may well be a deliberate and illegitimate calculation on behalf of Qatar. It also may well be a legitimate miscalculation – Qatar thought they could control the heat but it turns out they cannot. This means that FIFA in their own right have not been given what they were told Qatar could deliver.
So if fingers must be pointed perhaps they might be pointed at Qatar – if there is sufficient evidence of deliberate misrepresentation.
Re-casting the bid.
So I hear the FIFA-bashers cry, “surely FIFA must re-open the bidding”! And convenient such a re-opening would be for Australia, because it would give us a chance to rehash our disastrous attempt. And Frank Lowy knows it.
However it is a far too convenient argument. The reality is that international tournaments such as the 2022 world cup are organised decades out, and Qatar is well along the way with organising 2022. Even if another nation could start now and make all the stadiums and arrangements in time (which is doubtful), FIFA would run substantial risk of being sued by Qatar for the investment they have already made.
Why? Because the heat concerns and potential rescheduling is not in of itself grounds for terminating Qatar’s contract. FIFA is wedded to Qatar for exactly the same reason that Australia is not entitled to compensation. So Australia should forget about 2022, learn from our mistakes, and concentrate on making a better fist of it next time.
And has Australia been hard done by?
What if we were allowed to bid to hold the tournament in our summer? Of course we would have exactly the same problem as Qatar. You cannot hold a soccer tournament in 40 degree heat, and we, unlike Qatar, had no plans for mitigation.
So there are thin grounds for the assertion that Australia’s bid was disadvantaged by the timing of the tournament.
Now I am well aware that FIFA and the backroom deals have been on the nose lately, and I couldn’t go past without addressing the anti-FIFA sentiment clouding this debate.
Firstly, FIFA is a sporting association. It’s not the UN. It’s not an international aid body. It’s not a charity. FIFA has the right to make whatever decisions it likes in the way it runs their tournaments. It doesn’t have to be “fair” to Australia, or any other country.
Australia is not bound to be a member of FIFA, nor is it bound to bid for the cup. If we don’t like the way FIFA is run, we can leave at any time. If we don’t like the world cup bidding process, then we don’t have to bid.
I think FIFA is running some risk that a breakaway association may start, but that is a matter for FIFA. Importantly we do not have to spend $43 million on our bid.
We can choose to spend more or less – but as we spend more, the risk increases that we will waste a larger amount of money. And are we really going to say that Australia spent $43 million on the basis that the cup would be held in June?
Please, Australia, like the other contending nations was trying to buy the cup, and in doing so spent more than any other nation.
Secondly, FIFA is made up of members from all over the world. If the African representative collects bribes from Qatar, it is not because FIFA per se is corrupt. It’s because that representative is corrupt. When FIFA becomes aware of such corruption, they can act. It is well to remember that the FIFA delegates are not owned by FIFA, but by the football associations of the countries from which they hail.
I reckon Lowy’s having a sook.
So for the reasons I have outlined above, I don’t agree that FIFA owe Australia any money, or a second bite at the cherry.
There is perhaps some reason to be mad at Qatar, if it can be proven that they knowingly misled FIFA on their ability to mitigate their summer heat. It can be argued that FIFA made a mistake in believing that Qatar could host the world cup during their summer.
However the decision to reschedule the tournament is a normal business mitigation decision, the kind of adjustment to a business bid that would be made thousands of times a day, all over the world.
After the 2000 Olympics there seemed to be the presumption that Australia would quickly go on to host all the major global tournaments, but the simple fact is that we were not ready, nor the right choice, for hosting the world cup.
By coming out and publicly attacking FIFA – without building up some international backing first – all Lowy is achieving is alienating the very organisation that we hope to win over in future bids, and making Australia look even more like a crack-pot soccer outpost.
Rather than focusing on the errors that were made by others in the 2022 world cup bidding process, we should shift our view to one of self-reflection namely: why was our 2022 bid so poorly received and how can we strategise, market and sell our bid successfully next time we enter the market.
It’s an approach that is essential if Australia is to continue it’s growth towards becoming a genuine home for quality football in Asia.
Posted by Laurence Plant at 9/19/2013 08:09:00 pm