Gold Coast United Chairman Danny Maher: “We are chomping at the bit to get back into the A-League”

Danny Maher is the current Chairman of Gold Coast United FC and is leading the charge to bring a Gold Coast team back into the A-League.

In a wide-ranging chat with Soccerscene, Maher speaks openly about his involvement in the game, provides an update on Gold Coast’s bid for the A-League, the current on and off the field progress of Gold Coast United and his future ambitions for football in the city.

First of all, I’ll ask about your role in Gold Coast United – how did your involvement come about and what is your background in the game?

Danny Maher: There was a group of business people who got together to return A-League to the Gold Coast basically, but with a strong focus on reforming the elite pathways at the Gold Coast. We wanted to start by ensuring there was at least two top NPL clubs on the Gold Coast and provide some local interest in the game.

So, we reformed Gold Coast United, entering it into the National Premier Leagues (NPL). I am the Chairman of the club and I was obviously heading that reformation process. I’m also chairing the A-League bid for the city.

I’ve got kids that play the game, I played representative football and was one of those people who left the game as a teenager. I was president of Magic United prior to this, which has basically now turned into the Gold Coast Knights (the other NPL club in the city).

I’m very much using my background of being a tech entrepreneur and investor, looking at it as a long-term play, with a group of business people that are very interested in football.

Is there an update on Gold Coast’s A-League bid, are there any details you can reveal?

Danny Maher: I can. The A-League bid is separate from Gold Coast United and it’s an all of city bid supported by both NPL entities and the city itself. I chair an investment firm and that’s the lead entity for the bid. It’s backed majorly by a group of US business people including Jordan Gardner and Brett Johnson. They lead a US consortium that own football clubs around the world and would like to add the Gold Coast in to their portfolio of clubs.

If a Gold Coast bid were to be accepted in the A-League again, how would the team excel this time around?

Danny Maher: First of all, we need to determine the brand it would fall under and whether we would return to the Gold Coast United moniker. That will be up to the city, all the football clubs and participants, but ultimately the decision will be made by the owners and the APL.

One of the previous myths about the A-League and the Gold Coast is that United went under, but it actually didn’t. The license was removed by the FFA when Clive Palmer was butting heads with Frank Lowy, but the club didn’t fold.

We’ve got a situation at the Gold Coast where we have two excellent NPL clubs, the fastest growing population in Australia, the largest population without an A-League team, an empty $200 million stadium and an international football group that is backing the bid.

The AFL and NRL both have a professional team here and they are investing heavily in those sports in this area, but we are not asking for a dollar. We are just asking for permission to invest.

Would the consortium look to enter a national second division, or would it only consider an A-League expansion spot?

Danny Maher: The consortium for the A-League bid isn’t interested in joining a National Second Division at the moment, but the NPL clubs individually will look at that. For example, Gold Coast United, the NPL entity, may be interested in the second division and we are currently part of that group investigating the viability of a second division.

How is the Gold Coast United NPL club currently progressing on and off the pitch?

Danny Maher: It’s a really happy place. It’s the highest rated academy in Queensland, I believe. It’s the only academy in this region that has females and our senior women were the league champions last year. The men are going well, we don’t spend the amount of money some of the other clubs do as we are pursuing a long-term strategy with a youth policy. We’ve got a great facility that council has provided us down at Tallebudgera. It’s a really peaceful, scenic setting with six football fields and three of them operated by Gold Coast United. We have a really low turnover of players and its quite difficult to get in the academy.

We have good levels of sponsorship so we don’t use any junior fees to fund senior programs, so that’s great, and we focus strongly on the junior setup having to be self-sustaining.

One last one Danny, where do you want to see Gold Coast football with the NPL entities and the A-League bid moving forward in the next 5-10 years?

Danny Maher: We definitely would like to see sustainable NPL clubs that have good local competition and we want to see the football ecosystem connected. So, for example, clubs working together and not being sensitive about talented players moving to the correct pathway for them. We want to see committees, from the Gold Coast Knights and ourselves, collaborating together for the greater good of the game and leaving the competition to the fans, players and coaches.

Then ultimately, the A-League is an all of city entity so it doesn’t belong to any one club. It belongs to the city and all football fans in the region. We want to see the A-League team connected to all the NPL clubs and the NPL clubs connected to other clubs below them in their geography (which we are very close to reaching).

We are chomping at the bit to get back into the A-League for the city; we don’t talk about it a lot in public because we don’t need anything, everything is in place.

 

 

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Hanh Tran: “I have a passion for providing a voice for women in sport”

Hanh Tran is a familiar voice across Football Victoria, having served as the original Series Futsal women’s broadcaster. Hanh has become well intertwined within women’s football across the state.

An advocate for women’s football, she has effectively singlehandedly shone a spotlight upon women’s futsal.

Throughout her established commentary career, Hanh has had broadcast involvement in finals, cup competitions and League matches across both indoor and outdoor women’s and men’s football competitions.

Speaking to Soccerscene, she discussed topics including being a commentator, what her dream is as a commentator, and the changes she would like to see in Australian womens football.

Tell me about yourself as a commentator.

Hanh Tran: I have been commentating on women’s soccer for a little over 5 years.  I first began commentating on woman’s futsal for the Series Futsal Victoria Women’s league, played at Futsal Oz.

At the time the Men’s competition had weekly commentators calling their game and the women’s did not.  I was also a player for the women’s league at the time.

I felt that the woman needed a voice to help boost and build their game, so I then made the initiative to jump on the mic and give commentating a try with the encouragement from owner Peter Parthimos I was in the box commentating my first week after.

In the beginning, it was all voluntary work and was more than happy to provide my time each week as it was something that I loved doing and the players enjoyed watching the game with commentary on it.

In late 2019 Football Victoria held an information seminar for women in media. This opened a huge door for me to help bring my commentating to a new level and provide me with a new challenge.

I was invited to join the Football Victoria commentary team for the upcoming 2020 season of NPL and NPL Women’s.

Unfortunately, due to COVID, I couldn’t make my debut to call the NPLW games that year. Fast forward to 2021 and I have been on the roster for most of this season calling the NPLW games.

I have a passion for providing a voice for women in sport, where at times there has been a male broadcaster calling female games. I feel the industry is in the progression of providing opportunities for diversity.

Growing up, I played every sport that was provided to me and loved being part of the community of sport.

When I watch I hear sports on the TV or radio, I’m so intrigued by the commentators and the way they capture the audience and entertain us in their own unique way when calling the game. I’m always listening out to different techniques and phrases that they use.

I remember watching the Matilda’s vs Vietnam in the Olympic qualifying match and made myself a personal goal to one day commentate a Vietnamese vs Australia football game.

Being from a Vietnamese background, that would be a dream come true. To represent Vietnam, Australia and be the voice for women’s football.

I want to be the pioneer of a Asian background and be a role model for future generation of commentators and media personnel.

What is something with women’s football you’d like to see change?

Hanh Tran: I would love to see more promotion and increasing the exposure of women in the media and to boost diversity in the industry.

I found there was a lack of content to champion and showcase the female players; and most of these outlets were hosted mainly by men.

More games being streamed, especially VPLW. More podcast, reels, panel shows. Pre game and post game interviews.

Advertisement of the players and their clubs, introductory videos of the clubs and teams, similar to USA college basketball and NFL and side line reporters.

What are your thoughts on the Nike Cup competition?

Hanh Tran: Love to see a VPLW team to get to the finals. One of the best quality games we’ve seen in a long time. 2 penalty shoot outs and 3 games going to extra time. They’ve been very close games.

Great exposure to smaller clubs that normally don’t get much limelight. FV have invested time and energy this year to make the cup stand out for the womens game.

Where would you wish to see growth within football in Australia?

Hanh Tran: More investment in the A league and growing the women’s game. So much support goes to the Matilda’s, but then no huge return of money invested in the A league.

Need more growth and international players come to the A-league to grow the game internationally to make it more entertaining.

Similar to what cricket did with the Big bash. Try something fun and exciting to bring in new and young viewers.

90 minutes is a long time to concentrate on a game that is low scoring, something that can bring in new football fans to watch the game.

A more sense of community and excitement, or collaboration with the men’s games, more double headers. The All-Star game was a hit against Arsenal, that will draw in more viewers and spectators.

Jack Spring: The rising star in film directing with ‘All Town Aren’t We’ documentary

As a Grimsby Town fan at heart, Jack Spring’s career as a film director continues to grow through the ‘All Town Aren’t We’ documentary.

Born in London, Spring made his debut at the age of 19, with comedy film ‘Destination: Dewsbury’.

In 2021, he directed ‘Three Day Millionaire’ as his second feature film – starring Colm Meaney which drew critical acclaim and reached a #5 rating on Netflix in the UK.

Speaking to Soccerscene after the completion of ‘All Town Aren’t We’, Spring discusses his film directing journey to date, the origins of the documentary, key components of the editing process and his personal connection to Grimsby Town.

What led you into a directing career?

Jack Spring: My Dad and I made these little stop-motion animations such as David and Goliath and play figures that went on Windows Movie Maker, and we used the very early digital stills cameras.

When I was about 12 or 13, my friend at school got a Mac which had a digital video camera, and every weekend we’d make these small little clips.

From the age of 13, it really snowballed from there and I’m lucky that I knew what I wanted to do early on.

The harder part was learning all about the financial side and raising money in the notoriously unglamorous aspects that were involved.

I did go to university, but I found I was teaching myself more outside of that by making short films every weekend and I ended up making around 100 of those.

I made the decision to drop out of university because I needed to raise money, given investors were not keen on me as I was only 18 – it prompted me to figure out what to do next.

There was a startup company that I created, which taught me a whole lot about business – such as how to budget, how to schedule and to manage teams.

Off the back of that I went to those investors to show what I could do at a younger age, and I believe it helps to start young to get your foot in the door earlier.

Tell us about how the All Town Aren’t We documentary originated and what it was like creating it?

Jack Spring: All Town Aren’t We was the first series we’ve done; we did a couple pilots beforehand.

It was quite intimidating because we decided to do the documentary project after the story happened, literally walking down the steps after the final.

I’m a big Grimsby fan and my production company owns the Club, so it made sense to put the two together.

When it came to interviewing footballers, in top-flight competitions like the English Premier League or A-League in Australia you see the players as very media-trained and they don’t give the interviewer much.

However, at Grimsby Town they were brilliant, I was far more nervous interviewing my heroes in Grimsby than any other typical player.

Everyone was great in telling emotional stories and you see the players and staff more as actors rather than footballers with usual responses.

There were so many stories to be told and some of them didn’t even make the final cut. For example, parents that were disabled and the lengths that it took to get the game, or Harry Clifton – a homegrown player and cult hero – having to cope with his grandad dying just after getting relegated.

It’s a credit to the players for opening up as I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

How was the editing process and making those tough decisions on what to include or exclude?

Jack Spring: I deliberately worked with an editor who wasn’t a Grimsby fan supporter.

The reason behind that was he would work out which storylines only Grimsby Town fans would care about, and what general sports fans would pay attention to.

It was really helpful because the storylines that I thought would be worth it didn’t make the final cut as the editor did not think it was important enough.

If I didn’t have that, there would be far too many Grimsby Town-specific narratives like players getting dropped which the general person wouldn’t be drawn into.

What would you say to those who haven’t seen the documentary?

Jack Spring: The 12-month journey is genuinely the wildest sporting story to exist.

Grimsby Town has spent the last 20 years flirting between League 2 and non-league football, where the Club found itself in non-league for just the second time in its history.

There’s a massive difference in terms of the clubs that play there – as people are made redundant, there’s a lot less money involved and it genuinely affects an awful lot of people in the town.

Two local business owners bought the club as they were relegated, who are the best thing to have ever happened to Grimsby Town.

The documentary is the next 12 months since that change, which is bonkers.

Without giving away the ending, Grimsby Town’s whole season became very dramatic to see if they can even make the playoffs based on previous form.

The final episodes included possibly the best football game ever played against Wrexham AFC in a semi-final.

It’s one of the best sporting stories because it’s essentially a working-class town which used to have the world’s largest fishing port, but the industry died.

For a town that has been on a negative trajectory for a long time, to see them rise against the odds is something that will appeal to all sports lovers.

It’s highly emotional, highly gripping and an unbelievable sporting story that I was fortunate enough to capture.

All Town Aren’t We is now streaming exclusively on DocPlay in Australia and New Zealand.

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