Enough is enough. After weeks of threatening to take the A-League licence off the Bakrie Group, it’s time for the games governing body to take stern action and remove the Indonesian owners from Brisbane Roar.
Over the past four months under the stewardship of the Bakrie group, Brisbane Roar have lurched from one crisis to another, with several key staff departing, sponsors deserting the club, legal action from unpaid creditors, wages not being paid on time to both players and staff, and now it seems like player departures.
All of this, and that’s not all of it, however as yet there has been little to no action taken by the FFA. If it wasn’t clear already, the above timeline of events clearly show the level of the problems currently facing the Roar.
Some of the actions that have been undertaken over the past four months have bordered on breaking the FFA’s strict code of conduct for owners in the club participation agreements, however they have until now at least escaped sanction.
Failure to make player payments on time twice in the past three months is completely unacceptable in any professional environment, as is the failure to make any superannuation payments in the past 12 months.
The club’s financial situation got so bad that one of the clubs creditors the Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) launched legal action in order to receive payment, threatening to have the parent company of the Roar wound up.
Despite the payment of $60,000 to the QRU, there are still numerous creditors owed a significant amount of money, some of which have gone public in recent weeks. To date, the QRU are the only creditor to undertake legal action against the Roar.
The dramas of the off-season have clearly taken their toll on players, staff and fans alike with a growing discontent from all three as the saga has developed. Many of the clubs staff have departed quietly over the past months, while a large number of supporters are holding off purchasing season tickets until the ownership situation is sorted.
Perhaps most alarmingly is the playing group, who have been resolute in staying together through the troubles, are showing signs that they too are considering their futures. Reports emerged yesterday that home grown midfielder Luke Brattan is seeking an immediate release from his contract, while fellow youth team graduate James Donachie and veteran Jade North are also reportedly considering their options.
Despite everything that has gone wrong for the Roar off the field, their has been a reluctance from the national body to step in and take the licence from the Bakries. In the past the FFA have stepped in and removed the licences of Con Constantine, Nathan Tinkler and Clive Palmer for lesser -albeit serious- offences, but in this case they seem happy to let the scenario play out.
In recent times we’ve heard that a sale of the club is close to being agreed, with outgoing Chairman Chris Fong in Europe trying to get a deal over the line, reportedly with Belgian billionaire Roland Duchatelet.
The time to conclude a deal however may have finally run out, with the FFA releasing a strongly worded media release yesterday declaring that unless all debts are immediately resolved and stability is restored, they would be forced to take action against the group. The subject figures to be a hot topic at today’s ownership meetings.
Despite the playing group being relatively large in number, the lack of acquisitions and squad depth could also begin to be a big factor as the season gets underway in a little over a months time. So far Brisbane have brought in just former Perth Glory striker Jamie Maclaren, while the likes of Andrija Kaluderovic, Adam Sarota, George Lambadaridis and Kofi Danning have all headed in the other direction.
It was expected that the boom group of youngsters who came to the fore late last season would provide depth this upcoming campaign, however one of those expected to feature- Lachlan Jackson- has headed south to Newcastle after the Jets swooped to offer him a professional contract which failed to arrive in Brisbane.
Ultimately, stability and investment in the playing squad are needed, and this ownership group are seemingly incapable of delivering either. After an off-season of uncertainty and instability, it’s time for a resolution, and it’s time for the FFA to take over and restore stability at the three time A-League Champions.