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Ultimate A-League FC: Administrators

Today we take a look at the men behind the scenes who keep their clubs ticking over. We’ll be judging these chairmen and CEO’s on two key criteria – Prowess and Eccentricity.

CEOs

4. Jason Brewer – Perth Glory

Perhaps the most surprising addition on our list, Brewer makes the list for surviving arguably one of the most tumultuous times in the Hyundai A-League that his club Perth Glory have ever had to overcome. A calm, cool and collected figure at the club, his business acumen proved vital in keeping a lot of the unrest in check and the club has made a strong start to the 2014/15 year under his guidance. Brewer wears his club’s reputation on his sleeve, and mentioned to Ultimate A-League earlier this year that he hopes fans can look back fondly on his time at the club.

3. Tony Pignata – Wellington Phoenix, Sydney FC

Tony Pignata easily makes our list of top CEO’s in the league’s history, simply for his role in changing New Zealand football with his integral part in setting up the Wellington Phoenix franchise. He then took his talents to Sydney FC where he was a key cog in the wheel that brought Alessandro Del Piero to the Hyundai A-League. A favourite with the fans, if you’re on Twitter and have a passion for the Hyundai A-League you’ve surely come across one of Pignata’s tweets, as he’s one of the more prevalent administrators of the game on social media.

2. Geoff Miles – Melbourne Victory

Geoff Miles is perhaps one of the least-plaudited administrators in the game’s history, particularly given the effect that his tenure at Melbourne Victory had on the game. Under his command, the Victory increased consumer and commercial revenues to be one of the only clubs to achieve profitability, with turnover growth from $5 million to $12.5 million, and membership growth from 5,000 to 18,000. The Victory also managed two championship and premiership wins during this time; a feat yet to be repeated at the club.

1. Peter Turnbull – Central Coast Mariners

It takes a lot for any club to break its shackles and shake off a stigma, and none are bigger than that of a side nicknamed the ‘perennial chokers of the A-League’ in some quarters — the Central Coast Mariners. But persistence, a great club culture and some shrewd recruiting all overseen by Peter Turnbull during his tenure at the Gosford-based club, saw years of potential realised in the 2012-13 Grand Final where the Mariners got up 2-0 over New South Wales upstarts the Western Sydney Wanderers. Turnbull went out on top, and deservedly so, and his contribution to the game on the Central Coast will not be forgotten any time soon.

Chairmen

5. Con Constantine –  Newcastle Jets

A lot of you will probably be laughing yourselves silly at the prospect of the Greek being named a top five administrator, but credit must be given after he took a modest Newcastle side and invested strongly in its second and third years, delivering a championship to the Hunter region for the first time in the area’s history in Australian football. His tenure was not without controversy, though – public bustups with fans and the ‘Squadron’ in particular saw him on the outer, and limited his time as an A-League chairman before selling to eventual owner Nathan Tinkler.

4. Tony Sage - Perth Glory

If anyone can be credited from pulling a club out of the fire in the Hyundai A-League, look no further than mining tycoon Tony Sage. Originally part of a three-way purchase back in 2007, a steady flow of funds has seen the club challenge for honours including a 2011-12 Grand Final berth, a result beyond any fans wildest dreams. Despite the occasional whisper of him leaving the club, Sage bleeds purple, and has been found meeting with the fans on many occasions. Sage was also crucial to the club’s revival in the wake of the FFA’s disastrous ownership in the 2006-07 season.

3. ‘Bakrie Group’ – Brisbane Roar

Another addition that may raise an eyebrow, but the Bakrie Group as a whole must be recognised for their contribution to the A-League as well as the Brisbane Roar Football Club. Despite purchasing the club at a time when it was at its peak, and with a second championship just a few months away, the Bakrie Group stuck by it’s guns in the following seasons by recruiting Mike Mulvey as it’s coach (after hiring Rado Vidosic on Ange Postecoglou’s recommendation). After an average 2012-13 season, and with disdain on the rise, the ownership again backed Mulvey, who inevitably led them to a title at the conclusion of the season. Shrewd business decisions have seen the Bakrie Group establish the Roar as an Asian footballing superpower, and the most successful A-League club to date.

2. Geoff Lord – Melbourne Victory

Multi-millionaire Geoff Lord was perhaps better known in Australian Rules circles at the commencement of the A-League, but after his time at the Victory was finished, he was one of the most well known men in the Hyundai A-League, after establishing the Melbourne-based club as a force to be reckoned with. A former president of the Hawthorn Football Club, Lord made tough decisions that at times may not have been popular with the strong home support, but were almost always for the good of the club — directly contributing to the two championship and premiership wins whilst he presided at the club.

1. Lyall Gorman – Central Coast Mariners, Western Sydney Wanderers

Without a doubt, Lyall Gorman must go down as one of the great administrators of our game, establishing two brand new clubs during his time with the A-League as well as a spell as the head honcho of the league itself, before being replaced by Damien De Bohun. Breaking into uncharted territory on the Central Coast, Gorman was instrumental in the early success of the Mariners’ time in the Hyundai A-League, and left behind a strong legacy before he took up a role with the FFA. Gorman would then, eventually, take up the role of setting up the now wildly successful Western Sydney Wanderers franchise, which has also enjoyed success in its early years of existence. One can only hope that Gorman returns to take up another role within the league – who knows, maybe another expansion club in the future?

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the next instalment in the UAL FC series! Also, make sure you check out some of the previous articles: UAL FC Central Defenders, UAL FC Wing Backs, and UAL FC Goalkeeper piece. Got any feedback? Hit us up at ualfc@ultimatealeague.com!

About the author

avatarKris is a freelance sports journalist, a two-time WA media guild award winner, and podcast host and writer for Ultimate A-League.

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