SUNS ROAR AT LYON

Suns boss hits back over claims to shut down Coast

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - GREG DAVIS

GOLD COAST CEO Mark Evans has hit back at former Fremantle coach Ross Lyon for sug­gest­ing the AFL should axe the Suns say­ing “no-one in their right mind” would think one less game for broad­cast­ers per week­end is a good thing.

Lyon said the com­pe­ti­tion should be re­duced to 17 teams with the Suns – who re­ceived $27.5 mil­lion and an as­sis­tance pack­age with ex­tra draft picks and re­cruit­ing zones from the AFL last year – to get the chop to take fi­nan­cial pres­sure off tra­di­tional clubs.

But Evans is hav­ing none of that talk.

GOLD Coast CEO Mark Evans has hit back at former Fremantle coach Ross Lyon for sug­gest­ing the AFL should axe the Suns, say­ing “no one in their right mind” would think one less game for broad­cast­ers each week­end is a good thing.

Lyon said the league should be cut to 17 teams with the Suns – who re­ceived $27.5 mil­lion and an as­sis­tance pack­age with ex­tra draft picks and re­cruit­ing zones off the AFL last year – dumped to take fi­nan­cial pres­sure off tra­di­tional clubs.

“If we look at the ex­pan­sion teams, and I ad­mire what has been done with Gold Coast and GWS, but I think it might be – if we just drill into Gold Coast – are they, for what we’ve pumped in, are we get­ting re­turn on in­vest­ment there?’’ Lyon said on Chan­nel 9’s Footy Clas­si­fied.

“And are foun­da­tion clubs maybe miss­ing out and un­der real pres­sure now?

“With one less club you could have a 32-game sea­son (with ev­ery team play­ing each other twice).

“And then you could put mar­quee games up and service south­east Queens­land and re­ally es­tab­lish it and then maybe bring it (the Suns) out of hi­ber­na­tion and go again.”

Evans (pic­tured), who an­nounced the club would stand down up to 80 per cent of its staff dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion lock­down, said cut­ting teams would cost the AFL money.

“I know the ninth game (due to hav­ing 18 teams) and the broad­cast value that brings. Right now, with peo­ple not com­ing to the foot­ball and spend­ing money, the broad­cast rev­enue is even more im­por­tant,’’ Evans said. “There’s no one in their right mind who would sug­gest that we want to re­duce the con­tent for broad­cast, given our re­liance on that to get through this pe­riod of time.

“No one in this world would sug­gest re­duc­ing TV con­tent for right now.

“No one is this world would who has an eye to eco­nom­ics would talk about re­duc­ing the mar­ket where there are 13 mil­lion Aus­tralians in NSW and

Queens­land. Why would you walk away from that?”

Evans said the AFL’s in­vest­ment into Queens­land was work­ing, with the state hav­ing 280,000 par­tic­i­pants in the code com­pared to the 100,000 when the Suns were founded.

“I know all of the things that we need to do to sta­bilise the ship but I also say into the fu­ture, Queens­land and NSW pos­si­bly be­come more im­por­tant than they were 12 months ago,’’ he said.

Evans said it was the Gold Coast’s in­ten­tion to bring back all the stood-down staff once the com­pe­ti­tion re­sumed but it did not make the task eas­ier.

“It’s been a dif­fi­cult time for ev­ery­body here as it has been in the com­mu­nity,” he said.

“Very strange and sur­real to tell staff and play­ers that the sea­son was on hold and for most of those staff to be tem­po­rar­ily stood down.

“We have to be in­cred­i­bly nim­ble and ag­ile to get back to full speed as soon as pos­si­ble.’’

He said some Sus play­ers had told him they would “play for noth­ing” un­til the com­pe­ti­tion got back on its feet.

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