Australian soccer’s coming of age overnight will have profound implications for the three other football codes – league, union and AFL – and will also make for plenty of happy investors in various A-League club franchises, whether they be the Lowy family and Anthony LaPaglia in Sydney FC, or John Elliott’s former offsider Geoff Lord in Melbourne Victory.
The biggest initial threat to the other codes will be substantially increased junior participation in the beautiful game – mainly because of this unprecedented marketing boost and also because many parents today regard the other codes as being too dangerous for their precious children.
The Federal Government’s decision to lend and grant the FFA $13 million to lock in the inspired appointments of Frank Lowy’s as FFA chairman and John O’Neil as CEO on $800,000 a year also now looks like a wonderful investment that will only reinforce bipartisan political support for East German-style public funding of elite sport in Australia.
Who’s going to argue if Guus Hiddink emerges as, effectively, Australia’s highest paid public servant? Indeed, eye-brows were raised about the passion being displayed by the normally poker-faced manager last night, but maybe he’s thinking about that estimated $2 million bonus that will come his way if the Socceroos make the second round, as now seems a good prospect.
Foxtel will also be delighted, after having recently stitched up the FFA for a seven year exclusive deal worth just $125 million. Maybe the FFA should have opted for a shorter three-year deal, because $18 million a year now looks pretty cheap when compared with $120 million-plus that the AFL will receive.
And apologies if some of this seems muddle-headed – I’ve had stuff all sleep. The missus emerged at 1am to complain about all the noise and to demand I come to bed before the kids were also disturbed. Sadly, I was just too excited and had to stay up for all the post-match analysis, so it ended up being just a couple of hours sleep on the couch – the proverbial dog house.
Oh well, we’re talking history here and Paula was a little more sympathetic in the morning.