Cobb gone, but what’s next

Daniel Cobb is no longer associated with Brisbane Roar football club. The former Managing Director was sacked –or he quit- this morning following the drama of the last 48 hours at Brisbane Roar.

Following this weeks meeting with the FFA when Cobb blamed the late payment of wages on a lack of funding from the owners, Cobb made a final take it or leave it offer for purchase of the of the licence last night. The offer was rejected, and a statement this morning confirmed his departure.

Appointed June 10th, Cobb failed to bring the stability and leadership it was expected he would when appointed, spending the majority of his two months in charge in Europe partnership deals with European clubs.

One of the big criticisms of Cobb’s tenure with the Roar was a lack of communication with staff and supporters alike. Over the weeks there were multiple stories of frustration within the Football Department over a lack of direction, while for supporters there was little more than a cliché filled introductory email to point to.

Those overseas trips and arguments with the Football Department lead to the slow delivery on important club business, with player recruitment suffering due to a lack of direction. Meanwhile in off field matters, the clubs membership drive was left far too late with it only launched last week and receiving limited interest to date.

Those incidents lead the clubs ownership to launch an investigation into the running of the club just last week, with the final straw earlier this week when Cobb publically blamed the clubs owners for the latest dramas.

There’s plenty of blame to go around in relation to this latest mess, but the attempts of Daniel Cobb to absolve himself from such responsibility in recent days has been particularly laughable.

Blame should also be levelled at both the Bakrie Group and the FFA for allowing a person with previous bad experiences within the game on a sponsorship level to be allowed to run a club on a day to day basis.

Cobb however is now a matter of the past, so the real question here is what happens next? Does the Bakrie Group want to keep hold of the licence, or are they going to depart the scene? Either way the onus is now on the Bakrie Group to announce those plans and to follow through on them.

Reports emerged earlier today that should the Bakrie Group finally be prepared to let the club go, a local group of investors was preparing a bid. The group is lead by Robert Cavalucci, a former State MP and member of the advisory board put in place by former Roar CEO David Pourre.

It’s unknown wether Pourre, or fellow member of the advisory board Alicia Ferguson are apart of the consortium in any way, but it was revealed Thursday that the committee was dismissed by Cobb early in his tenure.

Cobbs replacement, Mark Kingsman has wasted little time in attempting to stabilise the club with the long deal to move back to Ballymore for training purposes set to finally be sealed tomorrow.

That will allow the first team squad to ditch their Griffith University training base which isn’t suitable for a professional team and return to the place they called home from 2008 through 2015.

Kingsman, the CEO of East Coast Car Rentals would continue in that role and confirmed that the Roar would eventually appoint a Chief Executive of their own in the coming weeks.

Kingsman meanwhile will operate as the Managing Director of the Roar, with a Chief Financial Officer from Indonesia set to be appointed in the coming days.

In his first public statements as Brisbane’s MD, Kingsman said to the Courier Mail that he wanted the Roar to be better in all aspects.

“I read somewhere that somebody said it was business as usual, but I don’t want business as usual, because usual’s not been very good. We need to be better in every area. And we can be.”

“Ultimately we need to get this club into a position where we’re not going back to the owners asking for more money. We’ve got to get into a position where the club is self-sufficient.”

Those words are positive, but at this point it’s going to take actions as opposed to words for people to begin to regain faith in the Roar given the events of the past 18 months.

Hopefully the ownership group provides Kingsman with the resources required to return the stability to the Roar, because it’s long overdue.

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FFA- It’s time to step in.

Here we go again. The financial crisis that has engulfed Brisbane Roar over the past 18 months has again got to crisis point with Managing Director Daniel Cobb quitting the role. In a dramatic evening Cobb also confirmed a final bid to buy the licence from the Bakrie Group while also further isolating himself with the Indonesian ownership group by refusing to deny the Roar are trading insolvent.

This past 24 hours has been particularly dramatic with Cobb calling out the clubs ownership over a lack of funds, which he says lead to the late payment of the monthly payroll.

In the midst of all that the FFA and Cobb had a meeting in Sydney, swapped public statements before Cobb also announced he would make a final offer to buy the Roar licence from the Bakries even after quitting his Directors role.

Throughout this entire 18 month saga there has been plenty of anger from Roar supporters aimed at the clubs ownership group, former Directors and Chairman in addition to current MD Daniel Cobb in recent times.

One group which wasn’t included above, but has arguably the most to answer for is the FFA, whom the majority of this will be aimed at.

Over the past 18 months FFA have had multiple opportunities to step in and force change within the clubs ownership structure, and at each opportunity they’ve failed to do so. I’ll save the full recap of the this saga for when it eventually comes to an end, but here’s the key flash points.

The first opportunity to act was back in September 2015 when an ultimatum was issued following a third straight month of late payments to players.

Despite not meeting the deadline set –they were paid in the ensuring days-, the FFA chose not to step in and take control of the licence despite having the power to do so under the competitions rules.

The continued late payment to players in part cost the club the services of arguable its best home-grown talent -Luke Brattan- who used the situation to secured  a move to Manchester City.

That lead to a rather tense fan forum in the weeks leading up to the new season where former A-League boss Damien de Bohun blamed the fortunes of the Roar –and Newcastle Jets- on mistakes both made in 2012. But here we are, four years later and Newcastle are only just recovering from their issues, while Brisbane are yet to be rescued from the structure which created their problems.

On the night De Bohun explained that mechanisms were in place to prevent these issues from occurring, but those mechanisms obviously haven’t worked here in Brisbane. The question of due process when considering the Bakrie Groups ownership application should also come into question.

Fast-forward to May of this year and after a successful season –all things considered- on the park, things again appeared to be heading south with the departure of the clubs Indonesian directors and CEO David Pourre.

The FFA issued a second ultimatum in early May demanding leadership restored to the club, which was the precursor to the announcement of Daniel Cobb as MD and the leader of a consortium which would purchase the licence from the Bakrie Group.

Cobb’s brief stint with the Roar can best be described as problematic, with his frequent international trips doing little to add the leadership or stability it was said he would bring when appointed.

That lack of direction meant the club was unable to make all the recruitment decisions necessary on the football side, while off the field the club have only just launched their membership campaign some six weeks after the rest of the competition.

That brings us to the events of the past 24 hours including ultimatum number 3, and at this point its abundantly clear that neither the Daniel Cobb, nor the Bakrie Group are the right people to be in charge of this football club.

Throughout this saga we’ve seen late pay and superannuation for players and staff alike, a lengthy list of creditors and a general lack of leadership from the clubs owners, yet despite all of those things FFA has refused to take an active role in sorting the clubs issues out.

I should point out all of this isn’t to absolve the clubs owners, Daniel Cobb or anyone else whose been involved in this saga from blame, but it’s the FFA who could, and should have brought this to an end long before now.

From where this club was in May 2014 when it was celebrating its third Championship in four years to where it is now is a collective failure for all involved.

When you factor in that the Socceroos haven’t been to Brisbane for nearly two years, and it’s over 4 years since a World Cup Qualifier has been held in this city with no game likely for at least another six months.

When factoring all that in, it’s not a stretch to say that football in Brisbane–professionally at least- is in the worst shape it’s been in since the launch of the A-League some 12 years ago.

Whichever way you look at it the FFA have flagrantly let this marketplace down in the last two years, so here’s my final message to those running the game in this country.

FFA, we all know that you just helped the nation’s richest club secure a Socceroos legend. You can keep celebrating that, or you can do something to fix the situation here in Brisbane and make sure he has a meaningful competition to play in. Because as it stands you will have a shadow of a team representing the competitions third biggest market, with fewer spectators, assuming they get on the field at all.


Donachie departs Brisbane as crisis deepens

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(Bradley Kanaris/ Getty Images AsiaPac)

Brisbane defensive has been severely dented tonight with the departure of James Donachie following the conclusion of his contract. The fact his contract expires now is a farce in itself, with the contract initially intended to run until the end of next season.

The departure of Donachie comes at the worst time for the beleaguered owners, who were met with the news that the clubs medical department –Allsports Physiotherapy- would not be continuing their work with the Roar following this week due to unpaid bills.

All of this adds further fire to the calls for the FFA to step in and strip the Indonesian group of their licence, with the governing body waiting to hear the groups plans to recapitalise and take the Roar forward on Monday.

Donachie, who spent two seasons in the Brisbane National Youth League setup made his debut in the final M1 derby against Gold Coast in round 27 of the 2011-12 season, went on to make 71 appearances in all competitions for Brisbane in the ensuing four seasons.

While the 2012-13 season was an up and down one for Brisbane, it turned out to be a breakout season for Donachie, who in his first season as a member of the first team squad went to make 19 appearances, including invaluable experience in both the A-League Finals and the Asian Champions League.

With the return from injury of Matt Smith alongside Jade North Donachie would get less opportunities in 2013-14, he would however go on to get the assist in the A-League Grand Final with his cross to Henrique helping to net Brisbane’s third Championship in four seasons.

That contribution off the bench in the Grand Final –coupled with the departure of Ivan Franjic- gave Donachie a chance the next season in an unnatural role at right back, however a string of errors saw him return to the bench. James would however fight his way back into the side following the departure of Matt Smith with some stellar performances in the second half of the season.

This season due to the form of Daniel Bowles and various Australian u-23 call-ups Donachie played just the 11 games this season, but when the business end of the season came around it was Donachie who was preferred in the heart of defence.

Donachie’s departure leaves Brisbane with a bunch of question marks in the heart of defence going into the new season, with a bunch of centre halves that have question marks over them. Jade North, who will be 35 midway through next season, had a strong campaign in 2015-16, but will his body hold up for another year.

Injuries have also stagnated the career of Luke DeVere, who played in just two NYL games this season before being shut down with further complications. That leaves just Daniel Bowles, who had a solid if unspectacular season last year, and the unproven Kye Rowles who is yet to make his senior debut.

It’s always fun to see young players emerge from the youth side and make their mark in the A-League side. Best of luck in the future James.

James Donachie
Player number– 85
Debut– Round 27 2011-12 (Gold Coast- A)
Games– 61 (10)
Goals– 2
Honours– 2x A-League Champion (2012, 2014), 2014 Premiership.

 

 

 

 

 


Here we go again.

Here we go again.

It wouldn’t be the off-season in recent times without some sort of ownership drama surrounding the Roar. For those unaware, here’s a little bit of a breakdown of what’s happened over the last few days.

Last week the FFA were expecting to hear from Brisbane director Demis Djamaoeddin about the owners plans to take the Roar forward last week, but he returned to Jakarta without doing so.

Amongst the reported concerns of the FFA are the lack of replacement for departed CEO David Pourre who left last month, the ongoing re-capitalisation of the Roar and the general direction the club is heading in.

Yesterday, FFA CEO David Gallop issued a 24hr ultimatum, demanding the Bakrie Group to outline their plans to address the current situation or risk being in breach of the club participation agreement.

Today the FFA confirmed that the Indonesian group required an extra week to respond to the FFA’s concerns. A statement issued tonight by the FFA says that they are considering the request.

The statement issued from the governing body bore similarities to the ones which were released last year during the clubs financial crisis, with deadlines set before backpedalling and allowing more time.

Late this evening –Monday-, Brisbane Roar released a statement of their own, outlining that the FFA had reached out to the clubs owner Nirwan Bakrie and Chairman Rahim Soekasah in relation to their ownership of the Roar.

The statement went on to say that the club is continuing to build towards the 2016-17 season and that the current administration and football department staff have no control over the current discussions.

Both statements have been posted at the bottom of this for those who haven’t seen them.

At the fan forum back in September, Head of A-League Damien De Bohun outlined that it was the FFA’s preference for the Roars current ownership group to remain, provided they met certain criteria along the way.

Despite a successful season on the park and the , the events of the last week have at the very least tested the resolve of the FFA on that point of view, and it may yet have tipped them over the edge.

The successful season the Roar experienced on the park had little to do with the clubs ownership, and the credit for what was achieved should be directed to the playing group, the football department and the front office staff here in Brisbane who worked extremely hard in difficult conditions to lay the foundations for what happened on the pitch.

Off-field things had seemed to stabilise with the repayment of debts rumoured to be somewhere around the 4million mark, while the clubs former CEO David Pourre concluded a deal which will see the Roar’s training and administration base to the City of Logan at a purpose built facility.

The departure last month of CEO Pourre, along with other key staff has been a huge loss, with few staff remaining to keep the club running. Off-field the club has been unable to launch memberships for next season to capitalise on the success of last season.

The Roar’s football department have their own concerns, with the Roar currently operating in something of a holding pattern, with Aloisi and Football Operations Manager Craig Moore unable to plan out their recruitment and preparations for next season as they wait for direction from the clubs owners.

While the scars of past FFA ownership remain for many long term Brisbane fans –massive ticket price increases being the most notable- as things stand it may prove to be the best option, at least in the short term.

They are however still the current owners of the Newcastle Jets as they await the reported sale to a Chinese businessman, something which is no doubt playing on the FFA’s mind as they decide what to do with this situation.

In the end however, it’s time for this to be resolved once and for all. If the current owners have a plan to take Brisbane Roar forward and are fully committed to it, they need to outline that plan immediately and begin to implement it.

It remains to be seen if such a plan exists, or if they will be given the time to create and implement it.

FFA Statement on the situation at Brisbane Roar
“Football Federation Australia have released the following statement in regards to Brisbane Roar and the Bakrie Group.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has today received correspondence from the Bakrie Group in relation to the Brisbane Roar FC, said an FFA spokesperson.

The Bakrie Group has requested an extension of seven days to address matters raised by FFA. FFA is considering the request for an extension.

FFA last week sought information from the Bakrie Group on the management and financial structure of the Brisbane Roar.”

Brisbane Roar Statement on the Ownership Situation
“In response to media speculation regarding the Brisbane Roar Football Club (BRFC), the club can confirm that Football Federation Australia has sent communications to the BRFC owner (Mr. Nirwan Bakrie) and Chairman (Mr. Rahim Soekasah) in relation to the current ownership of BRFC.

BRFC administration and football department staff have no control over these matters.

BRFC continues to build towards the 2016-17 Hyundai A-League season. Our current A-League squad will complete their training on Saturday 4th June, before commencing their annual break.

BRFC NPL and Women’s teams continue to play in their weekly respective competitions.”


Roar Fans Fight For Right To Boycott

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 21/09/15

Today a story appeared online from the Courier Mail claiming that Brisbane fans should just accept the clubs ownership situation and remove any boycott threats. It’s fair to say the article has gone like a lead balloon amongst the Roar fans on social media.

In an offseason as turbulent as this one, the one thing that shouldn’t be questioned is the supporters loyalty, particularly given the upheaval over the past 5 months.

The Bakrie Group may have outlined their plans to the FFA in recent times, however they are yet to do the same to the club’s supporters, and if they are intent on keeping control of the club for the foreseeable future it’s something they should do.

A fan forum outlining how they intend to restore the club to stability and hopefully the top of the league may ring hollow with some, but it would be a good first step provided it was done right.

The closest that anyone involved in the club has come to this type of engagement since the end of the last season was an impromptu Q&A on the live broadcast stream in the weekends 8-0 win over the NPL Queensland u/23 All-Stars. Craig Moore answered a few questions from social media and issued a rallying cry of sorts asking for more support.

As things stand, Brisbane have a substantial amount of salary cap space following the loss of Brattan, a visa spot free, the full loyalty player bonus, the mature aged rookie spot and the possibility of injury replacements for long term casualties Luke DeVere and Henrique.

Investing in the team, something which hasn’t happened in the off season in truth, would be another way of mending fences and engendering optimism and enthusiasm ahead of the new season.

I should say that as a paid up member for the upcoming season, I don’t support any talk of boycotting home matches, and I look forward to watching the side run out against Central Coast in round two and throughout the season.

However it’s an individuals decision and right to withhold rom purchasing season tickets, particularly if they see that as their best way to influence change.

The argument of those who are holding off purchasing memberships and merchandise this season is that this is one of the few ways they can show their displeasure and not affect the team, and it’s a valid argument. After all, supporters have the right to make their voices heard, and its something we’ve seen in the A-League previously.

Currently the A-League website has Brisbane’s membership tally at just 3,552, which is roughly 30% of last seasons tally when they broke through the 10,000 barrier.

The one point in the article I strongly agree with is about the players and staff, who’ve acted with true professionalism in such a difficult time, and they absolutely deserve and have the fans full support.

The anger of most supporters is aimed at the club’s ownership, not the players, the coaching staff nor those working in the front office.

It is also aimed fairly at the feet of the FFA, whose reluctance to act with anything other than strongly worded statements and deadlines they don’t stick to has left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of supporters.

As things stand, it’s difficult to see the tide turning for the clubs embattled owners, but if they are intent on doing so and remaining the owners, the best thing they could do would be to make themselves more accessible and heard here in Brisbane, along with some much needed investment in the playing squad.

Even if that doesn’t happen, the majority of Brisbane fans will be at Suncorp Stadium supporting the side this season, and if the weekend’s performance is indicative of things to come another finals appearance isn’t out of the question.


Short term problem solved, long term problems remain

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 18/09/15

This week’s announcement that Brisbane Roar owners, The Bakrie Group have wired some much needed funds over will ensure that this month’s wages are paid, beyond that the uncertainty remains.

The embattled owners wired over a million dollars Tuesday evening to cover wages for the month in addition to some of the club’s other liabilities, with promises of a further monthly transfer of $100,000.

This commitment might have been enough to stave off Football Federation Australia from seizing the licence, however it rings hollow for a lot of supporters. Particularly given former chairman, Chris Fong’s statement that he wanted the Roar to own it’s own stadium within a decade, a statement made when the group first took control of Brisbane in 2011.

Chris Fong was this week replaced by fellow Indonesians Rahim Soekasah and Demis Djamaoeddin. The departure of the unpopular Fong is a plus for some supporters, however replacing him with two others who won’t be based in Brisbane changes nothing.

The club desperately needs somebody based in Brisbane who can outline the long term plan to return stability – assuming one exists – and not an overseas based board running the club from afar as absentee landlords.

While the short term issues were solved many longer term problems remain. This week’s development offers little to meet the FFA’s stated aim ‘restabilising Brisbane before the start of the season’. With many creditors still owed a substantial amount of money and no commitment or timetable when those debts will be paid, the instability still lingers over the club.

There is also the high probability of going through this exact same situation a month from now, when the next round of player and staff wages are due – another short term fix the most likely solution.

By the time that arrives however the season will be underway, and it could be a very interesting afternoon in Round 2 when Brisbane play Central Coast in their first home game of the season, both in terms of how the team plays and how the supporters respond to the events in the off season.

In terms of the football department, there’s a thought that this Roar side is still capable of making the finals and challenging the top sides in the competition, but that looks unlikely.

In terms of pure ins and outs, Adam Sarota, Luke Brattan, Andrija Kaluderovic, Lachlan Jackson, Kofi Danning and George Lambadaridis have all departed the side, with Jamie Maclaren the only new signing while Shannon Brady was elevated from the youth team.

Replacing Kaluderovic with Maclaren is an interesting choice that should prove fruitful, but losing three players from the midfield including a key figure like Brattan is a massive blow. Throw in long term injuries to Theo, Henrique and DeVere and depth suddenly looks non-existent.

If the Bakries were genuinely serious about re-establishing the Roar’s value, they’d be far more active in the transfer market. The fact is that they’ve now missed the boat for the off-season with most of the best talent locked up.

Renewed investment in the playing squad may also go some way to turn the tide of disapproval and contempt the clubs supporters have towards the owners, a relationship which has never been overly strong although padded by two Championships in four seasons.

As things stand, Brisbane sit in the bottom three for memberships based on the latest figures, which is in stark contrast to a year ago when they sold over 10,000 on the back of a double winning season.

FFA had a great chance to restore stability to Brisbane Roar this weekend, and unfortunately they let it slip.


Beligian investor lined up as players consider their futures

Via David Lewis: Belgian billionaire Roland Duchatelet is reportedly at the centre of the group looking to purchase the Roar off the embattled Bakrie Group it emerged today. Duchatelet, 68, is the majority owner of a number of across Europe with Charlton Athletic being the highest profile along with other clubs in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Hungary.

Representatives of Brisbane’s current owner have reportedly been in Europe trying to tie up a deal for the past two weeks but progress has stalled as things seemingly turn from bad to worse back here with some players reportedly considering their futures at the club.

In the same article, Lewis hinted that some of the playing staff are fed up with the current saga and are considering their futures at the club should things drag out for much longer. No players were named, but it’s understandable that some are growing tired of worrying about being paid.