Perth Glory fan forum report

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Perth Glory’s second fan forum of 2014 took place at ECU Joondalup in the city’s northern suburbs on Wednesday night.

While the weather in Perth wasn’t the best, the attendance of approximately 30 people was a disappointing showing from a supporter base that is never shy when it comes to airing its views via social media and other platforms.

On the panel were club CEO Jason Brewer, head coach Kenny Lowe, assistant coach Andy Ord and players Rostyn Griffiths and Brandon O’Neill who previously played for ECU Joondalup.

Memberships

The first topic of the night was memberships and there were some concerns raised around the FFA’s new active fan measures. Jason Brewer assured the fans that the club is doing everything to minimise the impact on Glory supporters given nib Stadium caters for a totally different set up to the likes of Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers.

While free public transport is again not part of the membership package, Glory are working on some alternatives in the form of public parking concessions and shuttle buses to games from Perth CBD.

In terms of membership numbers, 1850 people have signed so far (30%+ of last year’s total) and the club is aiming for at least a 20% increase overall. The first 1200 membership packs were posted to supporters this week.

The five-game flexi membership is a new option this season and there is also some news on the horizon regarding concession memberships. To help drive memberships, there is a big advertisement campaign coming up which will involve television, newspapers, the back of buses etc.

Preseason

With effectively 14 weeks of preseason training, the club is in a position where it needs to get in shape for the FFA Cup game with the Newcastle Jets on August 5th. After that, the intensity will be toned down and gradually lifted again before the season proper kicks off in October.

In terms of preseason fixtures, Glory will travel to Malaysia for three games between July 14th and 24th before returning to Perth for a game at nib Stadium in late July with a well-known European side to be confirmed soon. Members who have renewed for 2014/15 can avail for discounted tickets for the game, while the public will be able to gain admission for a lower price than they would pay for a league game.

There will also be games against A-League opposition – Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar – in August and September, as well as run-outs against local clubs and the state team.

Football department

To date, Glory have confirmed seven signings with one, if not two, more on the way in. Only Mitch Nichols is yet to arrive in Perth – he lands next Monday.

In terms of the recruitment philosophy, Kenny Lowe was very clear in what he is looking for. Players who have had international experience are the main goal, whether that’s under 17, under 23 or, preferably, senior level. Players with a good injury record and the physical capabilities to get through a full A-League season are also very desirable.

All of the new recruits fit that criteria except Youssouf Hersi, whose deal was already in place before Lowe formally took over. Cost is obviously a factor and players with senior international experience will demand more wages wise, but Lowe and Andy Ord are confident that they have got the right mix.

When Lowe was asked about the process for signing players, he explained his use of ‘Wyscout’. According to Wyscout’s website, it offers a database of 220,000 players and is used by over 400 professional clubs and 450 player’s agencies. Using Wyscout, Lowe is able to watch and analyse in detail prospective signings before any formal contact is made regarding a transfer. Take a look for yourself, it’s very impressive.

The introduction of strength and conditioning coach Toby Horak will allow players to recover better from injuries, and hopefully prevent them getting into that situation in the first place.

In terms of the coaching structure, the aim is to lay the foundations for what will be a long-term set up. With several new appointments and some young coaches on board, Jason Brewer believes that the club is now set up with relationships that were previously absent, i.e. Jacob Burns and Ante Kovacevic will work to bridge the gap between the playing group and the owner, CEO etc.

Another piece of good news is that Glory will be gradually taking over the W-League team again, with Football West having been in control in recent seasons. The hope is to have as many A-League/W-League double headers as possible at nib Stadium.

One of the concerns raised by supporters has centred on older players being recruited at the detriment of game time for some of the younger members of the squad. I took the opportunity to ask Brandon O’Neill, a 20-year-old who has been in and out of the first team at various points over the past two seasons.

O’Neill was keen to stress that he benefiting massively from training with the more experienced professionals, and learned a lot from Steven McGarry and Jacob Burns in previous seasons. He made the point that if there isn’t such competition for places then some of the younger players can be guilty of not working as hard as they should be and, as a result, performances will drop.

O’Neill also agreed with Kenny Lowe’s point that nobody, whether they are 17 or 27, should be guaranteed a place in the team and if a player is performing they will be in the team irrespective of age.

On exciting youngster Danny De Silva, he has signed a pre-contract agreement with Italian giants AS Roma and cannot join them officially until he turns 18 this year. This means that there are no directives from Roma over how much game time that he must have with Glory this season.

Brewer reiterated that the club is still very much committed to development of the best local and Australian talent, pointing to the signing of promising young goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell.

With all topics covered, there was an informal discussion about some minor issues before the forum was concluded. The next fan forum will take place just before the 2014/15 season.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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