There’s little doubt that the current travails of sporting teams in Australia and on the fabled strand of the Gold Coast in particular are complicated. Just as the planets can line up for the forces of good so too can they align for the darkside. This seems to be the fate of sport in SE Queensland at the moment. The economy on the strip is in tatters with unemployment well above national averages, property prices have plunged leading to decreased equity and fidgety banks and the demographic make up of the region is unique and confounding. In sporting terms they speak of the holy trinity – match day revenue, sponsorship and of course broadcast income. With the factors above contributing, at least two of these are affected. That’s as maybe but the clubs, leagues and competitions must also shoulder some of the blame and admit to mismanagement. Maybe it is time to look for different structural and management models for sport, our sport. Mention Germany and the stereotypical among us are quick to conjure images of rigidity, of discipline and of humourless efficiency. Whilst these traits may have some skerrick of truth we may soon have to add a further one – that they run sport well. In their football league -the Bundesliga – they have a shining example of a well managed, well governed and level as a billiard table competition that boasts engaged fans that watch, attend and have a stake in the clubs they support. One of the guiding principles of the league is the 50+1 rule whereby at least 51% ownership of each club must be in the hands of the members of that club. There are some exceptions with both Leverkusen and Wolfsburg majority owned by global companies based in the cities. This situation eventuated only because they had been involved in football for more than 20 years and thus proved their credentials. Undoubtedly the core value is always the fan and not a big name investor who may not have their best interests at heart. Whilst Michael Searle is a died in the wool rugby league fanatic, if the Titans were operating under a Bundesliga esque structure then they would have been shielded from the humungous losses of a property arm that many players and fans would have been unaware and not in the financial black hole they are purported to be in. Perhaps it’s time to break out the sauerkraut and beer and seriously consider something different?
This post first appeared as Monday’s Expert in the Northern Star on March 26th