Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Interview with John McGirr, chairman of the Tasmania United A-League Taskforce

Photos (Top to Bottom): John McGirr, chairman of the Tasmania United A-League Taskforce; John McGirr is interviewed by Jeremy Arnold of WIN TV

Jeremy Arnold of WIN TV and I interviewed John McGirr, the head of the Tasmania United A-League Taskforce, on Monday. This is the complete transcript of the interview:

Jeremy Arnold: Can you give us an update of Tasmania’s bid for an A-League team?

John McGirr: Certainly. As you know, the Government funded a feasibility study by Stratcorp, a company in Melbourne. That feasibility study is just about ready. I’ve seen a draft copy of that and the final copy will be released to the public, we anticipate, on Wednesday.

JA: In terms of funding, I believe you needed a certain amount of money raised by last Friday. How did that all go?

JM: No, not last Friday. In terms of funding, to move from the feasibility stage, you need to build a business case, and around the business case are expenses for compiling the documentation for the FFA. You have to do a five-year financial plan and you have to undertake some market research to put some veracity around the figures that are in the feasibility study. So, that will be in the region of $100,000. To fund that, we have launched a foundation membership, and we launched that on Friday and we have secured two foundation members on the first day and we are hopeful of securing more this week.

JA: So how much money have you got in the bank from these two members?

JM: At this stage, we’re not prepared to say until later in the week. We are in negotiations with an interested party in the north of the State, which could be quite good in terms of financial support.

JA: Are we talking of a substantial figure?

JM: To us, a substantial figure, yes.

JA: How confident are you of securing this amount of money in the allocated time frame?

JM: After the launch on Friday, when we got two on the first day, we’re very confident that we will get the money for the business case.

JA: In terms of the sheikh, is there any more news on whether he’s still willing to bankroll the team?

JM: In terms of the sheikh, it’s the same as the other sponsors. The negotiation are ongoing and when we move to the business case, what will happen, Stratcorp Finance’s Brad Paatsch, the general manager, and our director of football, Ken Morton, will fly to Dubai to finalise negotiations with the sheikh’s advisers one way or the other.

JA: Can you clear up rumours that negotiations between you and the sheikh have broken down?

JM: That’s not true.

JA: So things are still going quite well and looking promising?

JM: Absolutely. He hasn’t said no, so, for us, that’s a positive.

JA: Have you set a date when he needs to commit by?

JM: Well, that will come out of the business case as well as, obviously, talking to the sheikh. As per the AFL bid, part of the brief will be to identify and enter into negotiations with interested parties who would be prepared to sponsor the team once it’s up and running.

JA: I guess the bottom line is, though, with these companies coming on board, is Tassie any closer to securing a team?

JM: The indications from the FFA are very positive and we are very confident that once we start building the business case that we will get at least a provisional licence, which means that we would be the only consortium that they will negotiate with.

JA: Have they given you a timeframe of when you will enter the league with this provisional licence?

JM: The FFA haven’t given anybody timeframes, other than the Melbourne Hearts. They’ve been given a full licence and there’s still negotiations, meetings with the Melbourne consortium, the Sydney consortium and ourselves, so it’ll be one of those three that’ll get the twelfth. And, they’ve also indicated that there’ll be a thirteenth, fourteenth licence, all being well with the health of the league.

Walter Pless: Frank Lowy said he’s putting a hold on expansion after the two that go in this year. Does that affect Tasmania?

John McGirr: Our indications are that although Frank Lowy is a powerful figure in Sydney, Frank Lowy is not the FFA, and the message back from the FFA is there is no hold on expansion.

Jeremy Arnold: So this licence, how confident are you of securing this licence?

John McGirr: We will get a licence. Whether it’s the twelfth, thirteenth or fourteenth will be down more to the decision from the FFA than any efforts that we put up there. We will tick all the boxes.

JA: Do you need to use, I guess, Australia’s World Cup bid to grow support in the State?

JM: The support is actually there. We’ve got 14,000 registered players. Obviously, anything that lifts the profile of the game in the State, and the World Cup will do that. There would be an opportunity, although we possibly wouldn’t have a stadium that would meet the FIFA requirements for a World Cup game, as per the Olympics, there would be teams that would base themselves outside of the busy Sydney, Melbourne areas to prepare for their qualifying games.

JA: Do you think more needs to be done down here? Do you think we need to be a little bit louder because I know, being on the Mainland, no-one even knows about Tasmania’s bid? They know about Sydney’s bid and Canberra’s bid, and even a Geelong bid, but not a Tasmanian bid.

JM: Well, the FFA know about our bid and they’re the people that count. Obviously, with this being a football State for want of a better word, it is sometimes hard to get our message out into the media, but having said that, as I said, the FFA know about it so that’s all that concerns us at this stage.

JA: Are there any plans to drum up more support when Melbourne Victory and Adelaide come down for their pre-season match?

JM: Not as such. No, we see that once we move into the business case stage that the profile will be lifted.

Walter Pless: What is the earliest that Tasmanian football fans can hope to have a Tasmanian A-League side? What year, with everything going well?

John McGirr: If we got the twelfth licence, it would be August 2010. A year. We’re now in 2009.

Jeremy Arnold: Are you ready to have the team propped up by then? I mean, there’s a lot of work to be done in a year.

John McGirr: Well, once you get the finance, then everything happens pretty quickly. If we got the twelfth licence - that would mean we would have the finance - we would be ready.

[McGirr said that he and Brad Paatsch, of Stratcorp, would fly to Sydney in two weeks' time to present the initial phase of the business case to FFA. A media conference has been scheduled for Wednesday at 11am at The Old Wool Store to seek more foundation members.]


batistuta said...

2010? so they will recruit a marquee player, assemble a squad, get in a full pre-season, market the team and appoint a top level coach all in that time?
Also 14,000 is what they would need regular to most games to be viable wouldn't they? So are they expecting every single registered player to be t all games?

Beachside said...

14000 should be pretty achievable seeing as 100 watched the top of the league clash last week SH Vs Zebras

Chuq said...

batistuta, that's what every other expansion team has done.
Those who play the sport are nowhere near the extend of people interested in the sport. Besides, 14k is the league average, but depending on the stadium agreements they have they would be viable with much less than that.

DLing said...

This whole attempt to enter the A League is so laughable I can't even believe people would waste their time interviewing John McGirr. How can you seriously go from a Premier league that doesn't attract 100 people per game, games postponed every week because it rains, flooded toilets, etc etc etc, to a multi-million dollar professional team playing interstate every second week? Stop kidding yourself John McGirr, its not going to happen not in 2010,2015 or 2020. Stop wasting people's time and money to fund studies which will all result in nil. Why are you suddenly the passionate soccer spokesman for Tassie? If you are so passionate about the game you would concentrate your strengths to improving the state of our Premier League, ground inadequacies, sponsorship, referees, junior development, coaching etc. Is it just me that feels envious as they are driving to KGV and pass the Hockey centre on the way? What amazing facilities which have been updated twice in the last 15 years to keep up with the development of their game. Is it any ownder that they can host international games, have a mens and womens team in the national league, and have a catered venue where they can have their trophy presentations (rather than paying good $ to the Casino for example) and hire it out for private functions. You never hear anyone involved in hockey advertising the fact that they have so many juniors playing or the numbers of players registered like soccer does everytime there is something in the media. So what if there are 14,000 juniors playing soccer? Where is the benefit? There is no benefit because the people involved in soccer in the state have no vision or goals as to where they want the game to go. Where are the new stadiums, where are the sponsors, where are the new training facilities? What do we have to show over the last 20-30 years? Not a bloody cracker. Always lots of talk and promises but nothing ever delivered. Time for clubs, players and supporters of our beautiful game to pull the rug from under the cretins that are in charge of the game in the state and replace them with successful business minded people who actually will get off their butts and implement some ideas that will improve at least some aspect of the game. Clubs are charged more and more every year to play, with none of that money actually benefitting the game. Unless you count the fact that referees fees continue to increase as a benefit. Imagine if $5 from every player registered over the past 5 years in the State, went into a building fund for a new ground. Someone with some business savvy and some contacts within the council and local government could at least attempt to get those monies matched dollar for dollar. This is a very simplistic example but you need to start somewhere

Chuq said...

DLing, apart from people who share your "the mainland has told us we aren't good enough so lets just give up, sit here, and take it" attitude - which I think is the main thing holding back an A-League team - there is one very important thing you have neglected to mention - TUFC is completely separate to FFT. John McGirr has nothing to do Premier League clubs.

Sidney Poitier said...

Someone get this man a pulitzer prize,

"Imagine if $5 from every player registered over the past 5 years in the State, went into a building fund for a new ground. Someone with some business savvy and some contacts within the council and local government could at least attempt to get those monies matched dollar for dollar. This is a very simplistic example but you need to start somewhere"

morefootball said...

good news. i love football and i love tasmania and would support the team...is that enough? i think there could be enough support, but we need to all get behind it. like Chuq said, the bid is completely separate to FFT

yapman said...

DLing, I take it that come the next FFT AGM you will be nominating yourself for a position on the Board as a way of improving things. Or is it just easier to sit on the sidelines and complain that others aren't doing it right? If you are really that disappointed in the way things are being run put yourself forward as someone who will change things for the better. And if you do, good luck to you - I hope it works out. But if you are not willing to put yourself forward to change things then stop complaining about the performance of those that do. When you get in there you may find it's not quite as easy as it seems from the outside.

horror movie said...

dling great comments .istnt it amazing ,you come out with comments that couldnt be further from the truth and you get shot down yapman says stop complaining well yapman stop sitting on the blisters on your hands and grow up.is this ablog site where all opinions are considerered or just for you yapman or are you one of these underperforming fft board members that pee in the toilets with water up to your ankles and pretends that its not there or are you just against someone that has real views .

Chuq said...

it seems "reality2" also needs some TUFC <> FFT comprehension skills. Whatever FFT does or doesn't do, it has nothing to do with TUFC or the A-League bid.
If this is how people who actually SUPPORT football in Tasmania treat the bid... well lets say anything John McGirr is the least of your worries.

The General said...

Relax troops, i think DLing is the 'enemy' - sounds like an AFL collaborator! The 'handball boys' don't have to worry about their toilets, they are too busy wiping up the yellow and brown stream that's running down their legs!
AFL is dead in the water and they sense the tide that is consuming our great nation. The REAL FOOTBALL is set to take it's rightful place in Australia, as the Number One sport of choice for player and supporter alike. 'The World Game' is hear to stay. Australia is ready to take on the world and WIN!....The only direction for AFL is a downward spiral!
(Stand up! with your hand on your heart for this bit)...It's time to stand up and support your team,... your state ...and your country!!! ...time for a drink - back later!

Chuq said...

Does Tasmanian football need an "old soccer -> new football" revolution like what happened nationally in 2004-05?
Bring on the T-League!

Anonymous said...

Some people dont know the difference between dreams and reality..

Some of you guys who comment on here are kidding yourself... REALLY...

You think this a viable option?
Lets see... Tassie has a reputation that as soon as a team starts performing badly we dont support... Fickle i believe the word is...

We have lost both Men's & Women's basketball teams had an unsuccesful bid at AFL and lets look closer to home.

How are out attendances for what is suppose to be the Premier League... They are horrible!

Agree with Chuq... Lets get a SUCCESSFUL State League established first.


Unknown said...

I think it's fantastic and would do wonders for the game in Tasmania. I personally couldn't care about the politics locally. This would attract more youngsters to the game and get a head start on AFL which has neglected this State for many years because they are complacent.

I grew up playing AFL football (and still do) but I wish I had played proper football. I am an example of someone who would definitely support this team and will be signing up ASAP. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just another typically negative Tasmanian!

jerrie kruijver said...

mike mckenna is spot on.if we want community interest we have to earn it.apart from the south hobart and grove rd facilities,our grounds do not inspire people to come and watch a game.even if you were interested in watching a game you cant find out because nothing is advertised in the paper.in other words fft is doing nothing to promote any game.the risk with an a league team wich will be made up out off washed up overseas stars probaply having a last fling at building their retirement fund does not benefit tassie football in any way shape or form is that it will probaply even erode the meager number of spectators we get at our own premier league now.fft and the clubs are doing nothing to attract people to the game.we only have two grounds where you can watch a game in a bit of comfort.surely both grove rd and south hobart should be upgraded to an all weather pitch and all the premier league games should be played there.after all that is our best competion where our best players play and they should play in front of a decent crowd.put on some entertainment during halftime like getting kids to take penalties against a premier league keeper or anything just to liven things up.the possibilities are endless.create leagues thatconsist of teams that actually earn their place instead of nominating them.at the moment tassie football is like man with a painted up bicycle trying to rub shoulders with people riding 500 cc motorbikes.ok that is enough for now since i undoubtedly will get shot for saying this

Chuq said...

Actually Mike, I don't think we should have a state league first - it would be good, but not a pre-requisite of an A-League team.

What I meant by my "old soccer -> new football" comment is that the sport in Tasmania needs an overhaul like the "NSL/Soccer Australia" -> "A-League/FFA" overhaul of a few years back.

At the time there were a lot of SMFC, Syd Olympic, etc. fans who were disappointed that (from their point of view) their club was being booted out of the national comp, from their point of view, and saw the new league as "plastic" and "franchise based".

However, the end result was great for the sport in Australia, you can't deny that! TUFC could do the same thing for Tasmania - lift the profile and raise the level of professionalism.

By the way there is a newer TUFC article on Walter's site so I suggest conversation be continued there!

Chuq said...

jerrie I see the games advertised in the paper every Thursday or Friday - an ad on the 2nd or 3rd last page of the paper?
"the risk with an a league team wich will be made up out off washed up overseas stars" Right, so what you're saying is we shouldn't try, in case we fail? How ambitious. TUFC have stated they expect the club will have 4-5 Tasmanian players in the first team, and will have a Youth League team from the first year as this is important to Youth Development in the state. Did you see the Youth League matches last year? Tassie youth defeated the Adelaide, Melbourne and Queensland youth teams - some of which had AIS and Young Socceroo players in them.

Captain said...

If we can get 8000 to Aurora for a preseason game btween melbourne and adelaide surely we can get 10000+ to a tassie game.