Thursday, March 18, 2010
New Fury ownership team expected soon
By Adrian Warren
Australian soccer officials expect to have a new ownership structure in place for embattled A-League club North Queensland Fury by the end of the month.Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive Ben Buckley says while there are risks involved in the structure, the future was looking positive for the Fury, who reportedly haemorrhaged about $5 million in its inaugural season.Officials from the FFA have been in Townsville for most of the last two weeks, meeting with business and community leaders.Fury owner Don Matheson has struggled to keep the club afloat since the early season withdrawal of another investor.The FFA hopes a broader corporate and community support base will help prop up the Fury."We are not looking at it with rose coloured glasses, there is some risk," Buckley said."If the community can't find the money, then we can't support teams in any market 100 per cent."Everyday that goes by, there are more people that are prepared to invest, so it is a positive environment that we are dealing with."But the Fury's woes haven't dampened the FFA's expansionism for the A-League, with Buckley saying he's looking at a 30-round competition next season following the admission of the Melbourne Heart.He also revealed his organisation was looking at scheduling more midweek matches."The season is likely to be extended with more games, there's a very strong view and a strong push for more games, our players need to play more games to be more competitive on a world stage," Buckley said."We will introduce a more regular midweek fixture to accommodate that."The league will expand to 12 teams in 2011-12 when Sydney Rovers join, and could get up as high as 14 participants, but Buckley was adamant the extra teams would not dilute the quality of what has traditionally been a very tight competition."I don't think we've seen that going from eight to 10 (clubs) and I think there's enough players who are playing internationally and domestically, or foreign players who can come in and still keep sides competitive."Although this season's other new franchise, Gold Coast, experienced problems with low attendances, Buckley was bullish about their prospects and building their crowds.Outspoken Gold Coast owner Clive Palmer has clashed with the FFA on several issues but Buckley pointed out the league wouldn't have a franchise in the booming region without the businessman's multi-million dollar stake in the club.