Glory takeover talks an avoidable mess

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Perth Glory owner Tony Sage’s very public engagement with crypto-currency firm The London Football Exchange has added unnecessary distraction to his club’s season.

The potential take over, only officially ruled out by the club on Tuesday, isn’t the only off-field distraction Glory have faced this season. The Coronavirus epidemic in Asia has already forced the postponement of one AFC Champions League game with another set to be played behind-closed-doors.

Sage’s involvement with the firm was naive in that it stirred a completely avoidable media storm as his own due diligence played out in a very public sphere.

There was no benefit to the club in a public relations sense and there was certainly no visible benefit to Sage, who is now having his intentions and credibility questioned by fans.

On Tuesday, the FFA announced that the Glory sale would not go ahead, just a day after 6PR reported LFE founder Jim Aylward had not only been using an alias but was also involved in a $2.2 million US lawsuit for fraud brought forward by an oil trader from Turkmenistan.

Football is scrutinised in broad Australian media like no other sport. Its fans and stadia can easily become a story independent to the on-field exploits of its players, whose behaviour is also heavily policed.

A company involved in an online platform and a brand new internet currency with a PO box in the Cayman Islands is likely to bring scrutiny on itself. Not a friendly combination.

Glory haven’t made this an easy story to follow. The first information regarding the takeover came to light the evening before a press conference held to make a “major club announcement” which turned out to be the release of an AFC Champions League playing kit and sponsor.

LFE founder Aylward released a video celebrating the announcement less than 48 hours later which was followed by a release from Tony Sage and Glory explaining that he would maintain a 20 per cent stake and become the corporation’s chairman.

Sage’s statement was then followed by one prior to his trip to the UK for ‘due diligence’ without retracting any previous statement.

This is a mess that puts a shade over the club and the sport in the state that Perth doesn’t need as it prepares to compete for crowds with the upcoming AFL season and Perth Wildcats’ playoff campaign.

Even the rusted-on Glory fans that populate the Shed are publicly questioning the ownership of the club. If not for the work of local journalists, the club may well have been on shaky ground and in sketchy hands.

The involvement of the FFA in this process is mostly unknown, although it was them that released the final statement. It would be comforting to know that it would step in if its oldest club was sold to a corporation with no guaranteed revenue stream.

Featured image credit: Perth Glory FC

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