Thoughts regarding ACL fixtures at Robina.

– Written and compiled by Patrick Lindsay
For clarity, my comments are written in Orange.

A few days ago Brisbane Roar FC announced that all home ACL fixtures would be played in Robina. I’ve tried my best to summarise the information as best I can throughout multiple platforms so that our members are a little clearer on whats been going on. Whilst this post doesn’t cover every word mentioned on the below points, it does give readers a general understanding of the perceived motivations of the club on their decision:

1. Unavailability of Suncorp Stadium on matchday 1 due to another booking (Member Email)
“The Roar was required to seek another venue for its three ACL Group Stage home matches as the club’s regular home ground, Suncorp Stadium, is not available on ACL Matchday One, Wednesday, 25 February, because of a concert booking there. ”

well documented and no need for further scrutiny – except on the whole Sporting venue not available for a sporting event because it’s holding a concert issue – which Brisbane has a multitude of venues capable of hosting. More on this below (see #5)

2. ACL rules (Regulation 19.3) (found here: http://www.the-afc.com/uploads/afc/files/acl_2015_competition_regulations_final.pdf)
19.3. – Each Participating Club must play their home Matches in the one and only Stadium approved by the AFC throughout the Competition.
19.3.1. – A Participating Club cannot change Stadium during the Competition unless forced to do so because of circumstances beyond its control.
19.3.2. – Should a Participating Club wish to change Stadium during the Competition, it must provide evidence to the AFC General Secretariat,
including without limitation photographs, other visual evidence, and letters from the relevant authorities as to why the Stadium is unable to host Matches, at least four (4) weeks prior to their next home Match.
19.3.3. – Only upon receipt of the evidence shall the AFC make a decision on whether the Participating Club may nominate a new Stadium for home Matches.
Such Stadium must comply with Articles 19.1 and 19.2.
19.3.4. – The AFC shall decide whether to approve the new nominated Stadium. Should the AFC be required to conduct an inspection, all costs shall be borne by the Participating Club and/or its Member Association.
19.3.5. – Should the new nominated Stadium not be approved, or should a Participating Club be unable to play home Matches in their one and only Stadium approved by the AFC and not nominate a new Stadium, the AFC General Secretariat shall select an alternate Stadium in accordance with Article 19.2.2.

Although these were refuted by an unknown AFC spokesman in a couriermail article (http://www.couriermail.com.au/sport/football/afc-champions-league-brisbane-roar-want-extra-preparation-time-before-vital-match/story-fnk6pqhe-1227215235441)
“However, the AFC spokesman suggested Roar would have had a strong case to nominate Suncorp Stadium as their home ground for the competition and move one match to the Gold Coast under another regulation that allowed a club play elsewhere if “forced to do so because of circumstances beyond its control”.” – that regulation being the above 19.3.1

Chris Fong has rubbished the source via twitter: “what spokesman? Seriously…. it’s rubbish” and “the mechanism wasn’t approved.”

chris_fong_points_2
There is the obvious question around whether point 19.3.2 was completed on time, and might be the reason “the mechanism wasn’t approved”.

Historically, the AFC has been willing to allow multiple venues for A-League clubs – granting MVFC the use of 3 stadiums over 4 games (Geelong, Etihad and Aami Pk) – Which is why the use of this rule as a reason has raised many eyebrows.

3a. Being inclusive of all of QLD (twitter comments by Chris Fong – https://twitter.com/CHRIS_FONG10/with_replies) –
– 1- V much appreciate the comments (most of them), the fact is we cannot play at Lang Pk & have explained why
– 2- while GC maybe 60mins away and too far considering its a school night, we completely understand.
– 3- GC is best solution for BRFC Asian campaign, there is no doubt of this.
– 4- We maybe called Brisbane but my view is that we represent QLD, and i am proud of this and belief we need to demonstrate this.
– 5- Our club has never broken even or a profit, playing in GC will not change this, so to the critics it’s not about $.
– 6- It’s about doing whats best for the club and what we believe in, and sometimes this doesn’t suit some of our loyal fans.

chris_fong_points

It is unfortunate that these tweets could be construed – and have been by some – as:

1 – The explanation wasn’t satisfactory, which is why people have pursued further clarification.
2 – He may have silently thought “too bad, so sad.” when he wrote this…
3 – Best solution for a cost neutral ACL campaign for the club, however i’m not convinced it has many benefits beyond that.
4 – I got a sense of “existing members? We want new markets and we’re willing to chase them at your expense” from this particular tweet.
5 – see #3
6 – see #2

Whilst i think Chris has valid points, his delivery wasn’t the best in this regard – probably creating more questions that it answered. A missed oportunity to dispell some of the rumours floating around.

3b. Being inclusive of all of Qld (Brisbane Roar article – http://www.brisbaneroar.com.au/article/robina-surface-is-top-class/1c99jfswyrwv01hsvsx9dkpkbg)
Q: Why is playing these matches on the Gold Coast good for Brisbane Roar FC?
A: Brisbane Roar FC is the only Hyundai A-League club in Queensland and is likely to remain so in the immediate future under the FFA’s well-publicised views on possible expansion of the competition.
Under that scenario there is an obligation on BRFC to reach out to all football fans in the state and in particular in south-east Queensland.

First and foremost, Brisbane Roar FC should be catering to its existing fan base. To chase new fans, at the expense of existing fans, is a terrible decision. Competitive fixtures should always be at the clubs home ground – Suncorp Stadium. Should the club decide to move ALL fixtures to another venue, then i would argue the same point about the new venue. Selling games to various locations around the state would cause disruption, upset the clubs core demographic (being people who live and work in Brisbane), and ultimately cause more harm than good. If they want to engage with Queensland communities, organise pre-season fixtures. Take the club on tour during the pre-season.

4. Creating new opportunities both commercially and via fan engagement (Brisbane Roar article – http://www.brisbaneroar.com.au/article/robina-surface-is-top-class/1c99jfswyrwv01hsvsx9dkpkbg)
“The club is not only doing this by playing three AFC Champions League matches on the Gold Coast but it is also working on a much broader plan to provide community engagement,
skills clinics and a clear development pathway for talented Queensland youngsters to fulfil their football ambitions.”
“We are already making contact with clubs and schools in the region to discuss future opportunities and urge organisations interested in getting involved in our many community and coaching programs to contact Brisbane Roar FC.”
“As we expand our footprint across our home region and increase our fan base, Brisbane Roar FC will become stronger and even more empowered to continue the high standards of success that are in the DNA of our club.”

This appeared to me to be the biggest decision driver. The initial press release sprouted the comercial benefits of expanding into the Gold Coast region. Subsequent articles have also maintained this theme, promoting the expansion of RAP, lobbying for pre-season fixtures and training camps. Theres no doubt, from a commercial standpoint, the club stands to gain by using Robina for the ACL competition. I’m not against the expansion and engagement of fans on the Coast.. I’m just questioning whether it’s correct to do so at the expense of existing foundations.

5. To progress discussions on the upgrade of Perry Park as a viable alternative to Suncorp Stadium (Chris Fong on twitter – https://twitter.com/CHRIS_FONG10/with_replies)
“lack of pristine pitches with compliant stadiums has been a long standing problem in Brisbane.”
“Perry Pk is a good long term option. Ownership/Lease & development needs to be sorted with Govt.”
“Many meetings on Perry Pk with Govt officials……very positive, very committed – QLD Govt needs to be sorted as we all know.”
“not going to invest in anything we don’t own or at least control long term, would you? I hope not”

chris_fong_points_3
This is something Brisbane desperately needs. A second viable rectangle stadium catering to the sub 25k patron event. I’d happily pay a (reasonable) subsidy on every matchday ticket if that money went into trust purely for the purpose of building a stadium. I don’t think you’ll find a BRFC supporter who wouldn’t like to see this happen.

Is playing Suncorp Stadium off against Robina the right way to go about raising awareness of this? time will tell.

6. To test GC market for FFA expansion (Article, couriermail – http://www.couriermail.com.au/sport/football/afc-champions-league-brisbane-roar-want-extra-preparation-time-before-vital-match/story-fnk6pqhe-1227215235441)
“But de Bohun said FFA supported Brisbane’s decision to play the three games on the Gold Coast.
He felt the games could attract decent crowds, with the Gold Coast’s standing as a popular destination for Asian tourists having the potential to help with attendance numbers.
“We’d be disappointed if the crowds were low,” de Bohun said.”

The FFA is looking to expand the competition in time for the next TV rights deal. They’ve already flagged a South Coast NSW team, and have also been heard whispering about a 2nd Brisbane team. Is this ACL move designed to test the waters? Seeing the FFA involved in something that doesn’t really concern them, is curious and terrifying.