That this council—
(a)That Adelaide United Football Club represents Adelaide and South Australia in a national sporting competition;
(b)That Adelaide United Football Club represents Adelaide and South Australia in an international sporting competition outside of our national league;
(c)The social, health and economic benefits that Adelaide United Football Club contribute to our State; and
2.Condemns the State Labor Government for its current lack of support for Adelaide United Football Club.
I thank the Greens for their support to date on this motion. The crux of this motion is its second part, that the government has harmed and is harming the Adelaide United Football Club through failing to assist the club to the best of its ability. The government owns Hindmarsh Stadium and, rather than assist the club by giving it the most amenable deal justifiable in business terms, as it has facilitated for the state’s Australian Football League sides, the government continues to draw as much money as it can from this mighty club, a club that has had a reasonable measure of success in its very short history.
While unfortunately there is no A-League championship to its name, Adelaide United has had more exposure to the world than any other A-League club through its efforts in the Asian Champions League and the Club World Cup. No other A-League club has reached these heights and despite these herculean efforts the club is still in precarious financial straits, forever reliant on a select few honourable gentleman on the board of management.
There are two gentlemen in particular to which the club, every Adelaide United fan and the government owe a debt of gratitude. They are Messrs Greg Griffin and Robert Gerard AO. It seems somewhat ironic that the government is unwilling to assist or even compromise with the Adelaide United Football Club board, given that, without the efforts and investments of these few, the government would not be able to profit from having a professional soccer team play at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Instead of thanking these gentlemen for keeping A-League soccer alive in this state, the government, by doing nothing, is making it increasingly difficult for the football club to prosper. A better stadium deal, in line with what many other football codes have with the proprietors of their respective stadia, has been sought by the management board, but the government refuses to come to the table.
I ask the Minister for Recreation and Sport to engage the football club in discussion regarding a more equitable deal for Adelaide United. Is it right for the government to profit from this football club while it struggles financially? If anything, the government should be doing its utmost to foster and encourage the financial and on-field success of the football club because by doing so it could actually work to the government’s benefit.
The government is currently facing a crisis regarding the future financial and economic direction of the state and in its own budget. Without the predicted mining boom, the government is now turning to other sectors, such as food and tourism. In fact, the government has stated that it wishes to turn South Australia into Asia’s food bowl. It appears obvious to me and to many that a key way to tap into the Asian market would be via soccer, one of our true links to Asia.
Football Federation Australia is a member of the Asian Football Confederation and, as a result, the A-League sends its top three sides to the AFC Champions League to play sides from some of the densest television markets in the world, namely, China, Japan and South Korea. Adelaide United Football Club has appeared more often than any other A-League club in Asia and it has had the most success. United reached the heights of the Asian Champions League final in 2008, making it to the Club World Cup and narrowly missing a play-off against the great Manchester United. These are now opportunities lost by the government—opportunities to market South Australia and its jewels.
During the Asian Champions League campaign why isn’t the government or the SATC, given it is a statutory authority separate to government, according to the honourable minister opposite, buying advertising space and promoting heavily during these matches? Before we scream, ‘Where is the money going to come from?’, I point out to the government that, rather than spending $2 million telling South Australians that there is a problem with the Murray, why not spend some of that money creating opportunity and jobs in South Australia by heavily promoting this football club throughout Asia?
It beggars belief that any South Australian does not understand that we have a problem with the Murray, yet we are using money that could well be creating jobs in tourism and certainly promoting fantastic brands of wine and food into Asia. Even the words ‘Explore South Australia’ or ‘Explore Kangaroo Island’ on the front of the Reds’ playing shirt during matches would reap rewards for tourism in this state.
During Adelaide United’s 2010 Champion League’s campaign, it faced Shandong Luneng, which represents the Chinese province of Shandong, a province with a population of 96 million people. The television audience of the match-up between these two clubs was 30 million people. This is almost 1½ times the population of our entire country watching one soccer match. The exposure that Adelaide United receives in Asia is unparalleled.
The last Champions League match against Nagoya Grampus, a Japanese side based in Tokyo, attracted a live free-to-air television audience of 25 million in Tokyo alone. Once replays, pay TV and the rest of Asia are added to this figure, the mind boggles at the number of people exposed to Adelaide United and to an attached advertisement. If only a tenth of those people watching these two matches googled South Australia, Kangaroo Island or the Barossa, or whichever message the SATC or StudyAdelaide exposed to that television audience, that would be well over five million people.
A vast percentage of Adelaide’s international students come from China. Our universities rely on a steady stream of these students paying up-front at a premium in order to subsidise places for local students. StudyAdelaide needs to wake up to this opportunity, which is the responsibility of the perpetually controversial Minister for Education.
This seems rather easy pickings for the government, pickings that the government is apparently not interested in, pickings the honourable Minister for Recreation and Sport has no clue about. The potential and the benefits are obvious. What is the government going to do? It is up to those on that side of the chamber. As much as we would like to, we cannot do anything from opposition but, if we could, the opportunity would no longer be a missed one.
This government needs to stop wasting the time and money of the South Australian taxpayer and do something which will truly be of benefit to the people of South Australia. Get behind Adelaide United, and get behind the opportunity to promote this club and this state throughout Asia, and make sure that those hardworking people who have invested their time, energy and money into what some people would say is a bottomless pit are actually rewarded and acknowledged rather than putting barriers in front of them.