FFA guilty of fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion that just makes no cents

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport - opin­ion Antony Ste­wart antony. ste­wart@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

A DOL­LARS and cents de­ci­sion has set North Queens­land foot­ball back a decade or maybe even gen­er­a­tions.

From a busi­ness per­spec­tive where the bot­tom line means ev­ery­thing, you can hardly blame FFA for cut­ting the cord and run­ning – $ 9 mil­lion is no small in­vest­ment, es­pe­cially when com­ing off a $ 6 mil­lion loss them­selves last fi­nan­cial year.

But in truth, the loss for Aus­tralian foot­ball will be far greater than any­thing re­turn­ing the books to the black can muster.

Now for you who are al­ready rolling your eyes, don’t ac­cuse me of be­ing a bleed­ing heart foot­ball tragic whose vi­sion has been clouded by sen­ti­ment. Sure, I’ve al­ways fol­lowed the English Premier League, but NRL was what I grew up on, and is and al­ways will be a pas­sion of mine.

I am, though, some­one who has been won over by the Fury – the pas­sion on the field, the ef­fort off it – af­ter see­ing the im­pact it has had in a rugby league-dom­i­nated mar­ket and be­ing con­vinced by what the club had to of­fer.

There was a path­way for the 10,000 reg­is­tered NQ ju­nior play­ers to reach the elite level of the game, mums and dads in turn got caught up in the foot­ball ( not soc­cer) hype and there were gen­uine build­ing blocks for a bright fu­ture . . . in time.

Now that has been taken away and the im­me­di­ate feel­ing is, ‘‘ that’s it for foot­ball’’.

Not be­cause the sport all of a sud­den be­came worse to watch or play af­ter FFA CEO Ben Buck­ley made the bye­bye Fury an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day af­ter­noon. No, be­cause peo­ple feel cheated and mis­led.

And when you feel treated like a pawn, it is hard to for­give and for­get.

Ben Buck­ley

What rea­son does any­one have to watch the A-League when the ‘‘ lo­cal team’’ is 1500km away?

What rea­son does a player have for stick­ing with foot­ball when the path­way to elite rugby league and bas­ket­ball is so much clearer?

E a c h a n d e v e r y No r t h Queens­lan­der has rea­son for feel­ing hard done by af­ter yes­ter­day’s de­ci­sion.

Be­cause whether you’re a Fury fan or not, hav­ing the club added to the NQ sport­ing land­scape en­hanced the re­gion’s rep­u­ta­tion as a sport­ing mecca.

It was the great­est re­gional set-up in the coun­try, bar none.

Not any more. Fans have been left feel­ing like an FFA b a r g a i n i n g c h i p f o r a n even­tu­ally failed World Cup bid. Time af­ter t i me t he goal­posts were shifted, mak­ing it more and more dif­fi­cult for the club to se­cure its fu­ture.

Then, when it ap­peared they had achieved the im­pos­si­ble, it was again taken away – peo­ple won’t for­get that.

Mum and dad sup­port­ers burnt and now bit­ter, won’t be so en­thu­si­as­tic about their kids go­ing into the sport.

In turn they will take up an­other code and that gets passed on to their chil­dren and their chil­dren’s chil­dren.

Foot­ball won’t die in the North, it’s world­wide brand is too strong, but any chance of it tak­ing a firm foothold is gone.

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