Posts tagged ‘CEO’
At the Football Federation of Australia Fan forum on Monday night in Perth a German lawyer, Gerhard, stood up and asked an extremely valid question on the NPL. It was abundantly clear that the FFA did not want to discuss the NPL as after his question the topic was shut down.
Having stated that he was a lawyer in Germany and had been involved in helping the smaller clubs receive financial benefits from the 2006 hosting of the World Cup, and how only by uniting as a group had they managed to achieve this, he backed up the questions raised by this writer on behalf of the Football Union that the NPL is light on financial information. He asked why the FFA could not give at least $1million from the $160million the game’s administrators had raised in the TV deal with Fox, to help the clubs train coaches and be in a better position to enter the NPL.
The question was not well received. After a few comments backwards and forwards the Moderator for the evening, the FFA’s head of Corporate Affairs and Communications, Kyle Patterson, tried to shout the lawyer down by saying “this is Australia.” If his comment was supposed to be humorous it missed the mark by a very long way. In fact many in the audience verbally accused Patterson of racism. Many others waited for the CEO Mr Gallop to step in and apologise for his ill advised comment, this never happened.
What makes the comment all the more unfortunate is the fact that 19 days previously the FFA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the German Football Federation. That MOU according to the press release ‘identifies a number of areas of collaboration between the countries including football development, management and hosting major events.’ The issue being raised was to do with ‘football development’ yet it appeared the FFA did not want to hear from a man well voiced in the German game. It would be very interesting to know the reaction of the German Football Federation if a clip of that comment were to cross their desks.
Many have emailed Not The Footy Show since Monday night stating that Mr Patterson should be made to issue a public apology. What do you think?
It would have been better if David Gallop had demanded one on the night, as the failure to do so has leant more weight to the clubs argument that the NPL is being pushed through with little or no consultation with the clubs it will affect.
It was great to hear Emma Highwood who is the new head of Community Football at the Football Federation of Australia state that a great deal of focus will be given to the women’s game. She echoed the sentiments of many when she stood up from the floor and said that she believed the Matildas had more chance of winning a World Cup than their male counterparts. She also stated that she felt they had more chance of hosting a World Cup finals than the men’s game. No one would disagree and it compounds the bafflement many had that Australia opted to bid for the male version ahead of the women’s World Cup Finals.
Ms Highwood is new to the role and let us hope that her voice is not only heard but that she is given the wherewithal to make the Womens game receive the attention and accolades it deserves. It has from within and outside of the FFA received little more than lip service to date.
Next to none of the powers that be at the FFA attended the Women’s World Cup finals in Germany in 2011. John Boultbee the head of High Performance paid his own way from the UK where he was attending an event, and director and ex Matilda Moya Dodd also paid her own way to support the team. The media coverage of the girls achievements were negligible.
Having raised the funds to make the documentary “No Apologies” tracing the story of two Aboriginal girls to the World Cup Finals, Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon this writer asked the FFA to endorse the project. We did not ask for any financial support, just their endorsement for the project. The FFA’s response was there was ‘no benefit’ in such a film. Several members of the FFA staff were invited to the Sydney Premiere of “No Apologies” and replied saying they would attend. Then failed to show. Only one apologised.
Since the film has been completed we have offered the documentary free of charge to be used to by state bodies in their Indigenous programs. The offer has not been taken up, despite the film receiving recognition from the Aboriginal community and overseas.
Hopefully this was the FFA approach of the past. We have many new staff on board at head office since then. The FFA have a new CEO in David Gallop who has already shown he has a great deal more about him in terms of communication skills than his predecessor. One feels that Ms Highwood is genuine in her intentions. Let us hope she is able to fulfil and deliver her vision for the women’s game. It would be great for Australia and all the women playing and watching the game if she can.
Perth Glory fans attended last night’s FFA Fan Forum in Perth but many will have gone home as frustrated as when they entered Perth Soccer Club who were hosting teh event.
One valid question that was raised was the kick off times of Perth Glory games on a Friday evening on the East coast. Some games are being played at 7.30pm on the East coast which makes it hard for fans to either get home or to a pub to watch the game as with daylight saving it means kick off is 4.30pm in the West. Head of the Hyundai A League Damien de Bohun, simply stated “There is not a lot we can do about it.”
As for all games in the final round being played at the same time and ensuring that no fixtures in that final round is deemed ‘dead’ due to an earlier result. Mr de Bohun, did not see any merit in this and stated that not every league in the world follows this format so it was not something that the FFA would be looking at in the near future.
Another suggestion from the floor was that the first round of the finals games be played over two legs, home and away ensuring that all teams in the finals receive a home final. Mr de Bohun said that discussions on the finals format had taken place at length, but that this format would not be seen in 2013/14 as the fixtures have been locked in and will be revealed this week.
When it came to the finals Glory fans asked why a finals game would be scheduled for a Friday night as was the case with the Glory’s game against Melbourne Victory. They stated that this gave fans extremely short notice to get across to the East coast to support their team, and affected the amount of fans who could go, as they would have to take time off work, again at short notice. The questioner never really received a definitive answer on this issue. The one thing that became increasingly clear is that Fox Sports scheduling dictates the fixture times far more than the game’s governing body.
It was also asked whether Perth Glory home games could be shown as a delayed telecast in Western Australia as a tool to encouraging fans to attend the games. The response to this question was that ‘with teams from different time zones this is very difficult, as people want to watch live action.’
One thing that was positive for Glory fans was the chance of seeing either Youth League or the W-League teams playing as curtain raisers to the main team next season look a real possibility. It was also good to hear from Peter Hugg CEO of Football West who run the W-League side, that Glory members can use their membership to attend W-League games free of charge. This was something that many fans were unaware of, and will hopefully grow the W-League crowds.
Head of the FFA David Gallop stated the he had met with the Western Australian Minister for sport and stated that he felt the opening game at the new stadium in 2018 should be a Socceroos game. The last time that WA hosted a Socceroos game was in 2004. Although he also stated that to host a Socceroos game the FFA required government support, which seemed a strange situation. It was made clear that with this being the case the everyday fans need to lobby the government and make them aware that they want such a game to happen, and that they would support it. The fans will do this because they want to see our national teams playing, but this seems a strange approach by a governing body which has so many participants and followers, and surely it should be a case of asking them to lend their support to the FFAs approaches.
When it came to the running of the Youth and the W-League teams – which must survive – Tony Sage stated that these two teams cost him in the region of $600,000 per year and that was why he had withdrawn from supporting the W-League side. A question was raised as to whether it was appropriate that the state bodies should have to take on this financial burden, Football West CEO Peter Hugg stated that ‘fans do not need to know who is paying the cheques.’ If these teams are to be run by the State bodies around the country then surely money should be coming from the top to support the league rather than the state bodies having to find the money to do so? If the money is not available to filter down to the top level of Women’s football in the country what hope is there of money coming down to the NPL?
There were some excellent questions raised but unfortunately many of the answers simply raised more questions.
The Football Federation of Australia held their first fan Forum in the West last night, as many fans described it ‘the forgotten state’ in Australian Football. In attendance on the panel were Damien de Bohun head of the A League and W League, CEO David Gallop from the FFA, and Tony Sage owner of Perth Glory along with Head Coach Alistair Edwards. Peter Hugg the CEO of Football West was also on the panel which was moderated by the FFA’s Kyle Patterson, their head of corporate affairs and communications.
It was great that this event was finally taking place in Perth. David Gallop who was measured in his comments, as you would expect from a man who has only been in the job for six months, continually stated that the object of the Forum was to hear from the fans and the stakeholders but the responses from many of the panel left many wondering if the powers that be were actually listening.
Also in attendance was Emma Highwood from the FFA who was appointed to the role of Head of Community Football, and when she spoke one wondered why she was not on the panel, as she spoke well, and her comments in the main had merit.
What was interesting was the fact that event was advertised on the FFA press release as finishing at 9.30pm, yet Kyle Patterson closed the forum down at 9pm and there were no questions of a general nature as promoted would be available, and only one was allowed on the Women’s Game.
The reason for this was never really explained. No doubt they would say that the segments on the A League and the National teams went on longer than expected. They cannot say the same about the NPL discussion, which is one of the reasons the delegation are in Perth, as questions on this topic were brought to an abrupt halt when questions of compensation and financial support were raised. If it was an issue with time, that would appear strange as most of the delegation are still in Perth today for meetings.
One thing that became clear was that somewhere in these proposed radical changes to the structure of the game with the introduction of the NPL, information would appear to have been miscommunicated. CEO Peter Hugg stated that following support from the clubs the board voted to push ahead with Western Australia joining the NPL. Yet the newly formed Football Union has a large number of State League clubs signing a document stating that they are far from in agreement with this move. They also have stated that they never voted on such an issue. It is believed that the Board were advised that the clubs were in favour of the move based on that information, and that is why they signed off on the re-structure. Hopefully the Board will investigate as to how such a misunderstanding has arisen and communicate their findings back to the stakeholders and the clubs.
Was there a benefit to the Forum? There is always some benefit from open dialogue but regrettably one felt that the fans and stakeholders were subjected more to FFA rhetoric than the game’s governors listening to the feelings of the fans. The two people to come out of the Forum with the most credit would have to be Perth Glory Coach Alistair Edwards who was articulate and being a true football person spoke a great deal of sense. Tony Sage kept his comments brief and as a result he too came out with a great deal of credit.
The Indian author Arundhati Roy wrote that ’There is really no such thing as the voiceless. There are only the deliberately silenced or the preferably unheard.’ Unfortunately many left last night’s Forum feeling they understood exactly what she meant.
There are plenty of people in Western Australia who will stand at the bar and tell you what is wrong with football in this state, many will tell you that no one wants to listen. It would appear that this is no longer the case with the Football Federation of Australia finally bringing their Fans Forum to Western Australia.
The event is to be held on Monday 20th of May at the Perth Soccer Club.
The choice of venue will not please many and shows a naivety on the part of those organising the event. Despite Perth having the best facilities this event should have been held at a neutral venue as it opens up Perth to the possibility of unfair criticism and accusations of favouritism.
On the panel will be CEO of the FFA David Gallop, Head of Hyundai A-League Damien de Bohun, Chairman of Perth Glory, Coach of Perth Glory Alistair Edwards and CEO of Football West Peter Hugg. It has not been revealed who will chair the meeting.
According to the FFA press release on the agenda are the following topics the Qantas Socceroos, Westfield Matildas, National Premier Leagues, FFA Cup, grassroots football and the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League and National Youth League competitions.
Not The Footy Show can’t help but question the timing of this Forum. First of all the announcement a week ago by Football West that they will push ahead with the National Premier League despite most clubs having grave concerns over the structure and who is going to finance it. Maybe this meeting has been timed to coincide with this move and therefore expect a great deal of ‘spin’ to support this decision. One question that may be worth tabling is what would happen if no clubs in Western Australia submitted for the NPL? Which when one considers how little information has been given on this radical new league would be a sensible development, yet sadly clubs currently feel they are being pressured to sign up in order to survive. Some we have been advised even being encouraged to submit an application!
As well as coming to support the NPL, don’t be surprised if with David Gallop in town an announcement is not made on Football being granted money by the Government for a new home. Something that the game has been crying out for ever since all segments united and they moved out of the old Perry Lakes offices, something that cost the game greatly; as had we stayed like basketball and Rugby we may well have already had a new home.
Quite what the Head of the Hyundai A League will have to share with those who attend is questionable, apart from crowds being up and viewing on Fox being up. Maybe he can explain why the W-League side which no longer receives any funding from the A league side should still have to operate under the same name?
It could be an interesting evening if similar events in other states are anything to go by. It will also be interesting to see what the main topics of conversation prove to be. One can’t help feeling that the NPL and youth development will in fact take priority over some of those topics listed.
Another that probably needs to be raised is where will funding come from should the Socceroos fail to qualify for the World Cup next year?
If you want to air your views on the game and the direction it is heading make sure you attend this meeting. Football needs your voice.
The creation of the Football Federation of Australia in 2005 filled Australian fans with hope. After many botched World Cup Qualifying campaigns, a national League which comprised of two full time teams and the rest part timers, and fractured organisations running the game at all levels below it seemed as if the FFA as it has become known was the answer to everyone’s prayers.
The FFA came into being following the Crawford Report which had been instigated as a result of the Australian Government’s threat to withdraw funding to the sport. The Australian Government were unable to step in and take over the running of the game as any political interference would have constituted a breach of FIFA Statutes. The findings of the report were critically analysed by the board of Soccer Australia who believed that they were unable to implement the recommendations. So a new body was created with Frank Lowy at the head.
A raft of recommendations which made great sense were included in the Crawford Report, including pulling all management of the game under one umbrella, yet still supposedly giving the stakeholders the power of influence on decisions via standing committees. Many of the recommendations made on the running of the game below the elite level have been ignored or not enforced. Some have been implement in some states but not in others, and many have been allowed to fail as they ave been deemed a hindrance to those running the game. So the dawn that promised so much on that level has not brought the sunny day that everyone had hoped for.
What is of more concern is what is happening at the highest level in the games administration, despite failing to monitor the game at State level, they appear to have once again brought the game into disrepute. New CEO David Gallop must wonder what he has walked into.
The national team are on the brink of possibly failing to qualify for the World Cup next year, should they fail the cash injection that making the World Cup Finals brings will cause massive ramifications to the game as a whole. The reason that Australia finds itself in this predicament is that those running the game failed to develop talent adequately over the past ten years, gone is the rich vein of talent that at one point seemed never ending. Talent is still there, but the cutting of costs to state institutes of sport and the lowering of the entry age to the Australian Institute of Sport have had a devastating effect.
The Hyundai A-League has just completed a very successful season with crowd and television viewing figures on the rise. Yet still several clubs are teetering on a financial precipice. What is more the league is started to follow a trend in modern football that of a gulf between the teams at the top and those at the bottom of the league ladder. In a 20 team league that is bad enough but it is twice as bad in a 10 team one.
Now there is the matter of fiscal irresponsibility. It has come out that close to half a million dollars that the FFA gave to Trinidad and Tobago as a donation for the games development has allegedly been stolen by their president Mr Jack Warner. This should come as no surprise as Mr Warner’s reputation is questionable to say the least. In 2010 it was revealed that the FFA had given pearl necklaces to the wives of top FIFA officials, including Mr Warner’s. In addition the FFA had spent tens of thousands of dollars flying a junior Caribbean football team to a match in order to obtain Mr Warner’s vote for Australia to host the World Cup. In addition to this it was made public that more than $1 million was paid to consultant, Peter Hargitay, who said he could deliver Mr Warner’s vote as well as those of other members of the FIFA executive who would determine the host nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Finals.
If this is not bad enough two books are due out that are likely to lift the lid on what happened during that World Cup bidding process and also who is responsible for the poor fiscal management and decision making at the top of the game. Former head of corporate affairs at the FFA Bonita Mersiades who lost her job for asking too many questions Bonita Mersiades is set to release a book called ‘The Bid.” Also Andrew Jennings the author of ”Foul! The Secret World of FIFA Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals,” is supposedly due to release a book on the same subject.
There are a lot of positives in the modern game in Australia but before moving forward the game needs to face its demons. Accept the mistakes that have been made, that the Dutch system may not be the best one for Australian footballers to develop, that our players may develop later than in Europe because they do not play as much. We also need to accept that the administrators have made mistakes, but those mistakes need to be made public and transparency and communication must be the new modus operandi. To make this happen as it said in the Crawford report, the Stakeholders must find a voice. If they fail to speak the pain the game is about to endure will continue.
New Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver was quoted last week as saying he was surprised to hear Waratahs fans booing their team. He believed this was something that was alien to Australian sport, fans booing the team they support when they under perform.
“They’re demanding not only success, but they demand a style of play which delivers an entertainment package, if you like, that is competitive with what they can get elsewhere.” Pulver was quoted as saying.
He is absolutely correct in his assessment. Times have changed. It used to be great to stand at the bar with a player from your top local sporting team and having too many beers with them and then wobbling off home, with them in an equally wobbly state. With Rugby Union moving into the professional era all of that changed, as it had as salaries rose in other sporting codes. Fans no longer wanted to see the players they paid to watch, their heroes, having a beer. They expect them to be clean living and in peak condition when they run out on the pitch, if they are to deserve the wages they now demand.
Rugby Union in Australia has a far better pricing policy than many of the other sporting codes in Australia, but once again the more you ask your fans to pay to support their team, the louder their voice will be when that team under performs. Which seems entirely fair, but few administrators seem to realise this, as they bury their heads in the accounts and search desperately to not only attract the best players but be competitive and turn a profit. The fans are the lifeblood of every club and when they have bought their ticket they feel they have invested in that club, and if the team does not achieve what it should, understandably want heir voice to be heard.
Pulver seems to understand this. He went on to say “you need a successful team to generate support, or you need to play a very attractive style of whatever game it is.” he said and looked at the success of the A League’s new team Western Sydney Wanderers, ”The Wanderers’ success in terms of fan support has come on the back of an outstanding result on the field.”
It is undoubtedly a tough task running any sporting organisation today, and in Australia with so many codes of football to choose from, it is vital that you offer entertainment at an affordable price and engage your fans. Some clubs in each code do it better than others. The next few years will see those who fail in these areas facing the biggest challenges ever. The good news for Rugby Union is the new CEO seems to understand what is needed to restore the game to the highs it enjoyed a decade ago.
Today the FFA unveiled the Harmony through Football program, a new initiative to celebrate football’s diversity and inclusivity. A great ‘initiative’ which hopefully will be followed through on, but one has to say it is a concern that it has taken them so long to become involved in such a program.
State body Football West has been running some programs which celebrate Football’s diversity for five years so why has the national body taken so long?
The FFA press release states ‘In 2013, FFA has a strategic plan to engage with multicultural communities, with a focus on Harmony Day, the official national celebration of cultural diversity.” Implying that previous to 2013 they had no such plan, which is quite worrying as this is the future of Australian football as new CEO David Gallop quite rightly went on to say.
“Football is the face of Australia and is a sport that truly reflects the cultural diversity of our nation, with 1.7 million participants, football is Australia’s most inclusive and accessible sport, one that bridges gender, age, linguistic, ethnic and religious divides. In 2012 the FFA undertook a cultural audit of the A-League which showed that 87% of players have an overseas ancestry and 68% have one or more parent born overseas, both well above the national average. Football’s broad fan base similarly reflects this diversity and our is aim to help foster this diversity through Harmony through Football program.”
State administrator in Western Australia, Football West, frequently cops criticism for some of the things that it does but when it comes to these types of program they have done an excellent job. Gordon Duus the man driving the programs has a passion for what he does and that is reflected in their success and how the culturally diverse communities embrace these programs. The Perth African Nations Cup has been around since 2008 but Football West became involved and helped lift its profile in 2010. Football with the Fuzz which is a joint venture between Football West and the WA Police has been in place since 2008. They also have the United Maylands Junior Football Club this is a program for young children aged between 5-18 from emerging communities to get them involved and playing football. The Africa Down Under Tournament which will be a Futsal competition is currently being planned.
We should be extremely proud of the work being done in this area by Football West and that they are several steps ahead of the national body in welcoming newcomers to this country through something they all know and understand, the world game of Football.
Finally, one has to hope that this is not just FFA rhetoric as we have witnessed in the past a commitment to develop the game in Indigenous communities for ten years abandoned after one year; many believe as a result of the World Cup bid failing. It was only the work and pressure applied by John Moriarty and Warren Mundine that saw this re-instated last year, but only after they went and secured sponsorship themselves. Time will tell how serious the FFA are about this ‘initiative,’ hopefully they will find someone with a real passion and desire to welcome all of these diverse people to our world of football, because if they do it may grow into a success similar story similar to the one at Football West.
All football fans in Australia want to see the Hyundai A League succeed. All fans dream of the A League being a league were superstars one day come to play when they still have some petrol in the tank, and all football fans in Australia dream of a league where he clubs owners are in it for teh long haul and they do not have to worry about owners walking away when they have had enough or run out of money.
So you would think many would welcome the FFA revealing that they are assisting with the wages of some key players in the Hyundai A League. This was made abundantly clear when they confirmed Lucas Neill would be joining Sydney FC on a guest contract. The press release stated ”This season FFA has been party to several arrangements covering marquee players and returning Socceroos. Our aim has been to support clubs who have made substantial investments in top quality players. The marquee players and returning Socceroos have added great value to the A-League in terms of playing standard and marketability. At the end of the season we will review this policy in conjunction with the clubs to ensure we are maximizing benefits for the whole league.” This quote is attributed to FFA CEO Geoff Gallop.
One has to ask is this in fact the right thing to do? If one club has been assisted then why has not every A League club been given the same sum of money to assist with their wage bill or recruitment? Sydney FC now have received assistance with the signing of del Piero and Lucas Neill, is that fair, when some clubs have received no financial assistance for any players?
Similarly who determines whether a player is a good investment and worth the FFA offering their financial support? These are questions fans really need to ask.
Lucas Neill has served the game well, he has been a great ambassador for the Australian game, yet one has to worry when a player of his pedigree cannot find a club, as was the case with Harry Kewell. The mature, more educated football world has spoken by their actions, and Australia should take heed. There is a time and a place for sentiment.
The signing of Lucas Neill and the fact that the game’s governing body in Australia has openly admitted that they helped facilitate it and have offered financial support puts the national coach Holger Osciek in an unenviable position. Should he feel that his captain is no longer the man for the job as a leader or a player, is he going to be able to drop him, or will he feel a tap on his shoulder from his employer telling him it would cause them gross embarrassment if he is not selected? One would hope that the Head coaches decision is final, but should that scenario play out it could leave the games bosses with egg on their faces.
The key issue will be if Lucas Neill can prove himself fit enough and up to the task of international football. Holger Osciek’s reputation is on the line, and as he has stated many times players need to be playing regularly to perform on the international stage, it is therefore unlikely he will comprise his views and beliefs or be dictated to.
This is one of many reasons why the FFA should not be involved in the transfer or signing of any players apart from processing the paperwork. It should also now be revealed to the football family which clubs have received assistance and those who have not, so fans are aware of the playing field on which their team is performing. Many have known for a long time that it would take more than a heavy roller to bring it back to even for all this latest announcement simply brought it out into the open.
Ine the early hours of this morning the 25th Hyundai Hopman Cup came to and end with the team from Spain of Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina-Garrigues upsetting top seed Serbia, with world number one Novak Djokovic partnering lifelong friend Ana Ivanovic. It was a fantastic tournament in terms of the tennis played but how would one judge the move to the new venue, the much-delayed over-budget and still-not-finished Perth Arena.
As a spectator one thing that has to be addressed is the training of the Arena staff in tennis etiquette. Far too often fans would start moving to an exit not just before a change of ends, but frequently during a game. The paying public may well be ignorant as to the behaviour expected, but it is vital that the Arena staff are aware of it and educate them.
Catering and litter were a massive problem at the event whether you were in a corporate box or a standard paying punter. A cappuccino was requested in a corporate box, 20 minutes later the waitress returned to say that they did not have cappuccinos, only a flat white. The gentleman in question said ‘I’ll have a black coffee then please,’ only to be told that they only serve flat whites!
The design of the Arena is appalling when it comes to obtaining food and drink as a paying punter, and queues frequently blocked all of the walkways as people found access to the food outlets slow and hard to access. Not the Footy Show was also informed that the building has been designed with the food delivery area on the opposite side of the building to the kitchens!
On the evening of the final, it was amazing to be told that the venue had run out of plastic spoons, at this its first major sporting event, and spectators were forced to eat ice cream with a plastic fork! Some spectators were also frustrated that at the end of a long night there was no opportunity to buy a bottle of water as you left the venue after midnight on a hot evening.
It was great to see Harry Hopman’s widow Lucy Hopman once more in attendance, the 92 year old having made the trip from the USA to support the tournament named after her late husband. She has been a regular feature in the front row of the corporate boxes for the past 24 years, but this year at the new venue there was no way to get Mrs Hopman and her wheelchair into that prime position, so she was stationed at the top of the corporate boxes alongside the Channel Ten cameraman. In this day and age who designs a venue such as this without making every area wheelchair accessible? This is another extremely disappointing design fault and will hopefully be corrected quickly.
It was great to attend several days tennis at the new venue and sit in a seat that when you break down the cost of the stadium against the seating capacity cost AUD$27,500. In fact one could say it was a downright privilege.
As a tournament, the screens at the venue, were not the best, with the referral system breaking down on one evening, and the players having to wait for radio confirmation to the umpire. Also when referrals were lost it often took several points for the big screen to update the information. During the final a security alert popped up on the screen stating ‘Windows firewall has blocked some features,’ again all very embarrassing in what is meant to be a state of the art stadium.
The tournament did not start or end well for World Number one Novak Djokovic. First of all when he landed at Perth Airport there was no official from the tournament to meet him, and then of course he lost the final, and then had to stand on court at 0050hrs and endure twenty minutes of speeches from the Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett, the head of Hyundai Australia, Mr Edward Lee and the head of the ITF Francesco Ricci Bitti. It was good to hear the latter acknowledge the work of Paul MacNamee over the past 24 years of the tournament, especially as Tennis Australia, now running the tournament, failed to do so. Mr Lee, as the sponsor for 25 years quite rightly deserved the opportunity to speak and his address was in fact extremely interesting, in terms of how Western Australia has played such a key part in Hyundai’s Australian operations. One has to wonder why the State Premier had to say anything, as regrettably he made a fairly major faux pas. He said how good it was that Mrs Hopman made the long journey from the USA to attend the Perth Cup! This is a horse race, and no doubt official sponsors Hyundai were over the moon that he forgot the name of the tournament they sponsor!
Luckily the tennis was of an exceptional standard and the record crowds no doubt enjoyed all that they saw as day after day they flocked to the new Perth Arena. This was the first major sporting event at the venue and and the management will hopefully have learned many lessons, and the next event will be all the better for hosting this year’s Hopman Cup.