Saturday, March 05, 2016


Perth Glory's Four Year Mission

Perth Glory are on a mission. In a forward thing thinking strategic plan that would have Singapore FA types drooling they have set down so many bench marks the befuddled reader ends up wondering whether there is a football club there or the directors are more concerned at jumping through hoops as a future possibility.

Beneath all the fluff about winning the AFC Champions league within six years, just what do these guys smoke, there are targets about expanding their support base in Asia, identify and pursue an Asian player and playing an ALeague game in South East Asia.

Business speak is good. Business speak is wonderful. I fully agree with leveraging on the strategic hubbing for the mind numbingly tedious but we are talking about football. Football ain't about stats. Football ain't about KPIs. Football is about refs giving dodgy decisions, football is about your centre forward missing an open goal in the last minute when you are drawing 0-0 and football is about passion.

Expanding Support Base in Asia

Dublin born Andy Keogh spent part of 2015 with Ratchburi in the Thai Premier League but I don't think that will be much of a link to encourage large numbers of Thais to flock to Perth's clarion call. Clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal are big in South East Asia for a reason and that reason is success. In more recent years people have started to follow Manchester City and Chelsea because they won things. Bayern Munchen shirts are a common sight but you rarely see 1FC Koln shirts in the malls or the MRT. Hell, I was at a game in Singapore last week and saw a lad wearing a Leicester City shirt.

Clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid not only have success. They have star dust in the likes of Messi and that dude with the hair. They also have almost a century of tradition behind them, long roots that go deep in to the history of the game in their country.

Don't get me wrong. I think it is perfectly laudable for Perth to widen their support base. But do they really understand the market? Thais have been growing more attached to their own league, Malaysia is feeling a bit more confident about its own league especially following Johor Darul Tazim's success in the AFC Cup and Indonesia? Nah.

Without widespread exposure of the ALeague in Asia and without big name players to provide that star dust it is going to be very difficult to make any inroads into the market and don't underestimate the Chinese Super League and the cash they have been throwing around recently. Who knows, perhaps Shanghai Shenhua or Beijing Guaon may become everyone's second favourite Asian side thanks to their large crowds and deep pockets.

For Perth Glory to have any impact in Asia they would need the ALeague involved and it would need the ALeaguie to be broadcast live replete with magazine shows to build an awareness and familiarity with the players. They cannot do it own their own. The state of western Australia has tried before to improve links with the region. Back in 2008 they arranged a tour of East Java and there was also talk of Perth Glory playing Persik.

Identify and pursue an Asian player

I know the football transfer market is a meat market but this seems so cold and clinical. But then this is what businesses do. They identify and target markets, consumers, rivals.

Who to identify? Teerasil Danga for example has recently signed an extension to his contract at Muang Thong United. Harris Harun could be an astute move. Fans in Singapore and Malaysia would be familiar with him and he is also at the right they could sell him on for a transfer fee! Perth missed the boat with another Singaporean. Safuwan Bahrudin had a spell with Melbourne City last year but chose instead to sign for PDRM in Malaysia for the current campaign...hardly the biggest club.

Indonesians like Bambang Pamungkas, Boas Solossa, Erol Iba have long been linked with moves abroad. Indeed Bambang was set for a move to Wellington Phoenix before it broke down, apparently he was offered less money that he was earning in Indonesia. And Boas, for all the talk of foreign clubs being interested, has just signed for  Timor Leste side. Yep, you read that right.

Yes, they could of course opt for players from South Korea and Japan but I have focussed on South East Asian players for a reason.

Playing an ALeague game in South East Asia

The plan calls for an ALeague game to be played in South East Asia within the six year period. Now the obvious question is why would a football association agree to this? Obviously the timing would be important and the Aussie players wouldn't want to play in the monsoon would they? Therefore any game would clash with the local major leagues and why would that be allowed to happen?

Many no doubt would like to see a game in Bali and on the surface that might make sense. But then the people that head to Bali from down under tend to be surfie types or judging by some of the bars AFL types and why the hell would they be interested in 'wogball'?

Bali of course does now have its own football club and despite the ongoing suspension of Indonesia Super League they do seem to be a fairly well run club with some money behind them. Perhaps Perth Glory would be well served developing a relationship with them once the suspension is lifted with an eye to playing regular friendlies there. In that way they could at least build some kind of awareness but it would need to be done in tandem with making merchandise readily available and reasonably priced.

Without any kind of development Perth Glory playing Melbourne Heart in KL, Bangkok, Jakarta or Singapore would just appear to be a damp squib with little appeal beyond the die hard.

Ultimately of course Perth Glory's plan is all about Perth Glory. Local FAs need to approach any discussion about hosting ALeague games not from Perth's viewpoint but from the interests of their own leagues. Given the amount of money in Australian football, I imagine there is not much Perth are in a position to offer in return for hosting a game and it is difficult to see what local associations stand to gain.

Just wondering. What if the KPIs aren't reached. Does that mean those who drew them up get the tin tack? I guess we know the answer to that!

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