Opportunity missed for Gold Coast

The stunning success of the Western Sydney Wanderers was huge for the A-League but only magnified the disappointment of football fans on the Gold Coast.

The stunning success of the Western Sydney Wanderers in their debut season was huge for the A-League but only magnified the disappointment of football fans on the Gold Coast that they messed up their chance in the big league.

The Wanderers only came into existence after Clive Palmer's Gold Coast side collapsed after just three eventful seasons in the competition.

While the side had some success on the field, particularly in their first two seasons, the club struggled to get things right off the field.

Disappointing crowds, a lack of community engagement and football nous were just some of the issues that meant one of the best nurseries in the country couldn't sustain an A-League franchise.

And the club's demise has left a sour taste in the mouths of many people still associated with the game in the region.

Peter Williamson, the president of the Palm Beach Sharks who have emerged as the top side on the Gold Coast now, believes the affects of GCU experiment has certainly set the game back in the area.

While the sport remains strong, especially at the junior level, Williamson says the game missed a big opportunity to make a big impact in the region.

He says with the Gold Coast also becoming home to new NRL and AFL clubs in recent years, football's failed attempt to crack the difficult market "didn't do the game any good".

"The Clive Palmer saga was greatly disappointing...we expected things to be run better," Williamson said this week.

"Clive Palmer was not a football person and I think he needed more football people around him.

"The club was poorly run.

"The most disappointing thing was the damage it's done to the game on the Gold Coast.

"Not so much with the football people but the non-football people who came to the game but have left it again.

"Especially in the corporate area, the game has lost a lot of credibility. I have even had trouble trying to attract sponsors to our club since the whole thing ended."

But through the disappointment, Williamson is confident the steps are already in place for a return to the national competition in the future.

The formations of the National Premier League - of which the Sharks are a part of - has given clubs and players in the area fresh impetus.

Williamson, who has been involved with the Sharks for 22 years, says it's vital for Gold Coast to have an A-League side again in the future to give the talented youngsters a pathway to professional football.

And the talent flow from the area is strong, with the likes of Tommy Oar, Mitch Nichols, Karl Dodd, and Matt Hilton coming through the ranks at the Sharks before going on to forge professional careers.

Former Sheffield Wednesday and Sydney FC striker Jarrod Kyle also now plays for the club.

While the Sharks have over 900 players and more than 70 junior teams, Williamson said there was no long-term ambitions for the club to represent the region in the A-League.

"We're not big enough to do that," he said.

"But we're in the process of implementing a five-year plan to double the size of our licence club.

"We definitely would support the idea of another A-League club on the Gold Coast and we could certainly act as a feeder club for it.

"We're happy to help out any way we can but we couldn't take it on ourselves.

"It's important for the game to get an A-League team back here...everything is set up to make it a success, we just need to make sure it's the right model and do things right off the field as well.