Bring on second Brisbane team, roars Fong

Roar vice-chairman Chris Fong has welcomed the prospect of a second Brisbane team in an expanded A-League, but only “if it’s done right”.

Brisbane Roar

Source: AAP

Pointing to the short life spans of Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury, Fong warned that in an environment of nose-diving TV ratings and prohibitive stadium costs, the ambitions of Brisbane Strikers and Brisbane City to forge an A-League presence face hurdles aplenty.

But he believes a second Brisbane team in the competition could give the city a derby to rival the established crosstown hostilities in Sydney and Melbourne.

It might also galvanize an ailing Roar.


“When you look at the atmospheres generated when Melbourne Victory play Melbourne City and when Sydney FC play the Wanderers, you have to imagine we could have that here,” said Fong.

“That can only be good for football, and would raise the standard and benchmarks of how both ourselves and the second team operate.

“But the league can’t afford to get it wrong. There are clubs in Queensland who have come and gone and investors have to be prepared to carry some big losses, which we (the Bakrie Group) have.

“There aren’t too many investors who are willing to do that.

“I’m all up for expansion and don’t think we should just have the market to ourselves.

“But when you only get 7000 or so (at home to Perth Glory just before Christmas) on a Thursday night, it makes you wonder.”

An acute shortage of appropriate venues in Brisbane remains an issue for both Brisbane City, nominally named the Gladiators - and the former NSL-winning Strikers, with a revamped Ballymore, or a planned 20,000-seater stadium in Ipswich the most likely home venues .

Ipswich, though, is over 40 kilometers from the Brisbane CBD, which could dilute potential derby fervor somewhat.

Expansion, meanwhile, has been put on the backburner by FFA as it awaits a final FIFA determination on the composition of a new Congress, as the forces for democratic change of the game’s governance continue to agitate for change.

With a 13,000 break-even figure at Suncorp Stadium, the Roar are bleeding badly this season with an average home attendance of 9729.

“The big problem in Brisbane is the stadium situation ... unless that changes you’d be out of your minds to want to invest in a second Brisbane team,” he added.

“Until there’s another genuine option they would have to play at Suncorp.

The issues are it’s a fantastic stadium if you can fill it.

“But even at 20,000 it’s only at 50 per cent capacity. It’s all a bit too big.

“We’ve suffered massive losses this season from poor attendances through scheduling (and poor results).

“For a new team, you’d need state government support to potentially turn around a few of the dilapidated venues across the city and fill that void.”

Fong believes expansion, though desperately desired by all stakeholders, is all about timing.

“We all know it needs to happen, but where is the expansion going to take place?

“Right now how can you possibly even expand when numbers are down across the board in TV viewing.

“But it’s all going to turn around ... it’s just getting the right model sorted out.

“Match scheduling is driven by the broadcaster (FoxSports) but you have to look at the bigger picture.

“What’s right for the game may may not be what’s right for the broadcaster.

“They puta lot of money in, but so do the clubs as a collective.”

Fong, like Perth Glory owner Tony Sage, sees Asia as ripe for A-League infiltration.

“Australia has to start capturing the interest of the Asian markets,” he said. “That’s where the numbers are.

“You might do that through broadcasting, recruiting more Asian players or even including Asian teams in the league.

“I know a lot of research has been done on that and I believe Asia is where we need to grow our numbers.

“I’m not saying there is no room for expansion in Australia because there is. But I think you have to think about Asia also.”

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4 min read
Published 15 January 2018 at 7:43pm
By Dave Lewis