The AFL has an issue – and it’s called Queensland football.
It’s a worrying conundrum for the AFL, having two clubs out of Queensland not only performing poorly on the field but also generating little interest whilst doing so.
Establishing a strong footprint in the Queensland sporting scene was always going to be a challenge for the AFL, the Brisbane Bears struggled throughout their existence before reaching the finals for the first time in 1995; they merged with Fitzroy a year later.
Queensland doesn’t offer the same support nor interest in an AFL club that Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia present.
It’s what is expected however, being located in an area were Rugby is and always will reign supreme.
The AFL will never be able to generate the same success in Queensland that it does in the other football states, it’s simply not possible.
Australian rules is in your DNA if you’re from a state in the South or West of Australia. Rugby is if you’re from the North to the East.
It’s what people are brought up with and what they are used too, it’s born from the grassroots of country football right to the top echelon of professional competition.
The AFL know that they can make a footprint in Queensland, as they have in New South Wales with the Sydney Swans and now the Greater Western Sydney Giants (GWS).
It can be done – but it is has to be orchestrated well.
The AFL’s two latest entrants, the Gold Cast Suns and GWS both went about establishing the foundations of their clubs differently.
One has done well, and one hasn’t reached expectations.
Both organisations recruited differently and the results have begun to reflect that with the Giants sitting sixth on the AFL ladder and the Suns languishing in fifteenth.
There are a number of possible factors as to why football in NSW has surpassed football in Queensland.
Perhaps the Giants were just simply better at setting up their franchise? Getting an experienced coach before handing the reigns to a younger assistant.
Who knows whether or not the Suns would have acquired better results if they had made a similar decision, their club chairman seems to think so.
It runs thicker than that though, maybe there is a reason why so many sporting clubs have failed when calling the Gold Coast their home.
What is clear though is that the AFL can’t afford to fraught with danger at the proposition of having another Queensland team reach similar troubles that brought the Brisbane Bears to their knees.
Whether it be due to the low crowds, poor membership numbers or solely performance-based, something will give eventually if things don’t change for both clubs.
Brisbane Lions Club director, and AFL legend, Leigh Matthews, has already come out and stated his support for the incumbent Justin Leppitsch, assuring Leppitsch’s job security.
Losses create panic however, and the Lions sit seventeenth on the ladder, their latest defeat being a thumping to the tune 83 points in a “winnable” game against a poor-performing Fremantle outfit.
12,899 people piled into the Gabba on Saturday afternoon to witness the defeat; any chance of a contest was gone by half time.
The Lions are young and the Suns have had injuries, which are reasonable excuses – but the lack of encouraging signs in their losses are a concern for both clubs.
Leppitsch looked as frustrated as we have ever seen him post-match against Fremantle on the weekend, the man has a plan and it’s clearly not registering.
Suns club chairman Tony Cochrane also stated his support for coach Rodney Eade, stating that he would “put it in his own blood” that Eade would be at the club in 2017.
The AFL need these clubs to improve on-field and off-field, and soon.
On-field success and the selling of hope is what breeds off-field success and unfortunately there doesn’t look to be too much light at the end of the tunnel for the Lions or Suns in 2016.