The case for the Gold Coast

Despite the failure of Gold Coast United there is still a passion for football on the Gold Coast, but rebuilding will take time, and so it should.

With Palm Beach Sharks recently being selected for the Australian Premier League, it-s inevitable that some will start asking again about the viability of football on the Gold Coast.

I live on the gold coast and there is certainly enough interest in the game - I recently played in an over 35 masters and there was loads of people there -but obviously there is still a sense of disappointment over what happened with Gold Coast United, having an opportunity that wasn-t really taken advantage of or done properly.

There was all the hoo-hah about how the club was going to be run, all the work that was going to be done in the community - stuff that did eventually happen but it was more of a reaction rather than a result of planning.

With United, there was never a sense this is what we believe in, this is going to build membership and this is what is going to bring people to our club. The attention and the focus was everything but football. It-s sad because it-s great to have a local team to support and we don-t have one now.

But we have to learn from those mistakes. The APL team is a fantastic concept and will eventually give us depth to our national league, which we need, and there will be clear development pathways - but that takes time, it doesn-t happen overnight.

When you start talking about any A-League franchises now, 5000 Fans isn-t enough - we need to be talking about 10,000 members.

I know quite a few people in the region that are still very interested in supporting football. The mayor, Tom Tate, is behind any football proposal that is going to done correctly. Geoffrey Schuhkraft is another and was one of those involved in trying to salvage Gold Coast United.

There is interest in getting back into the A-League and people that want to get involved - but they realise it can-t happen overnight and they want to see it done in the right manner.

Queensland also needs to consider the talent drain, because, with only one A-League team for local players, it-s back to the way it was before United and North Queensland Fury. The league-s come on a long way but it becomes very difficult because if you-re a player going interstate you-ve got to be better than what they-ve got, otherwise why would you take them over a local kid?

That-s the challenge for players from Queensland now if they can-t get into the Brisbane Roar system; they have to go to other states and try to forge a career elsewhere.

That winning Gold Coast youth team goes to show that there was a decent bunch of players in the area - Chris Harold, Josh Brilliante, James Brown, Zac Anderson, Ben Halloran, Tahj Minniecon, Daniel Bowles at Adelaide united, Golgol Mebrahtu at Heart.

But I-m sure if you spoke to any of those players in regards to their education over the two or three years they spent with Gold Coast, you-d hear that a lot of that was down to Mike Mulvey being a very good coach. And the Gold Coast continues to produce great players.

There were at least two or three that could play in the All Stars team against Manchester United. It-s still a vibrant football place but young players are going to have to find other places to go to because it-s going to be a long time before they-ll be any expansion.

With what happened it will take a long time for anybody to have any real confidence in the area. The Titans' crowds dropped away with Gold Coast United going, the basketball franchise finished; the ones that are going ok are the Suns, and they-ve invested a lot of time in trying to launch it.

The Suns spent two-three years connecting with the community, putting their brand out there and they work hard.

That-s where we can learn lessons from Western Sydney Wanderers. Yes, the club got a lot of help from FFA to get up and running so quickly - but there was huge interaction with the community. There-s only so much they can do but you make them feel a part of that it and you build that kind of community club. As years go by we have to set higher standards and benchmarks.

Any new club has to have a membership base of 10,000 people before we consider it in a serious manner. Crowds are important, it-s important when the games being seen on TV it-s full and healthy.

I don-t think you-ll see any expansion in the A-League for a good few years yet and I-m quite happy with that. I look at other codes - at the Suns, at Greater Western Sydney in the AFL - and it-s not so much about the results from day one but about have a good future.