FFA should play it Kewell on Harry
Turn the clock back to March, where a resolute North Queensland Fury seemed to have enough funding to at least secure a place for the next season in the Hyundai A-League. Benny and his crew rolled up in Townsville in their suits and blue ties to assess the criteria they had placed on the Fury and decide whether or not they would remain in the competition. Many believed the decision was made long before meeting with the Fury hierachy but still, the verdict was such – to the FFA, the Fury were not viable enough to ‘prop up’ and had to go.
Fast forward four months – the North Queensland fire sale seems to be nearing its end, as the more skillful players found homes at greener pastures, the FFA-Owned Brisbane Roar are currently undisputed champions of Australia and football seems stable enough – especially with the expected ACL cash windfall for the Roar making them a financially viable entity for the FFA. But one name threatens the FFA’s integrity and the league’s financial security on a level perhaps not seen by the FFA behind a veil of hypocrisy – Harry Kewell.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great fan of Harry’s footballing prowess, and mean no ill-will against the man (after all the man is a Socceroos legend). It’s a matter of circumstance and, effectively, timing. The fact that the Fury were only just a million dollars short under their projected total, and the expected earnings of Kewell will be over a million – an educated guess that may be – stands to question. Is Harry Kewell more important than North Queensland football? Sure, they didn’t have the slightest idea that Kewell would even be on the radar for audacious Australian clubs, but it now puts them in a position of hypocrisy.
If they have the money to help Roar secure Kewell, why didn’t they have it when North Queensland were begging to have their team stay in the competition. Furthermore, why do they maintain the Gold Coast team who had less fan support, less corporate sponsorship (if you take away the financial input from Palmer) and an ongoing dispute over crowd capping with the FFA? It is questions like these that also raise calls for the FFA to go back to the Crawford Report and implement the recommendation to have the Hyundai A-League as a seperate company/entity from the federation itself. This itself will allow for accountability – something the league has lacked in the past, and will most likely continue during the talks with Kewell.
Personally, for me, I’d rather see a competitive football side out on the pitch for 3 extra games, than see one player – effectively payed for by profits from mine and the other 8 non FFA-funded clubs – play for another team 3 times against my home side. It doesn’t matter if its Harry Kewell, Jamie Coyne or Cristiano Ronaldo. I guess this resentment stems from the mismanagement of Perth Glory under FFA control back before Tony Sage took over the club in 2007. They were not willing to fund players then, right off the cash windfall of the 2006 World Cup. Yet they can now, amidst press releases of the A-League’s dwindling finances, splash the cash in the millions on Kewell – it’s hypocrisy, blasphemy and it needs to be accounted for.
To put it into a nutshell, If you take your child to the shopping centre for new clothes, you only purchase clothes for your price range. In this situation, the FFA is seemingly ready to hand over the credit card to the young Brisbane Roar so they can purchase their glittering new prize possession, whilst the North Queensland community can only look on in disgust and wish to themselves that they were the ones receiving the handout. Let’s just hope for the sake of the football family – if they do go after Kewell – that that’s where the handouts stop.