Don’t Do It Mike

Tuesday, 2 October 2001, 0:01
3 mins read

Let’s get some things out of the way first. Tony Petty is described as a self-made millionaire. Always an interesting statement this as to whether a millionaire is someone with seven figures showing on the bank statement or maybe he is a paper-millionaire. Who knows, but that is the description of him.

He is 41-years old and originally from London’s East End. Again a description of him is a lifelong soccer enthusiast, be that a self-description or not again we don’t know. He moved to Hope Island on the Gold Coast in 1998 and being pouring money and energy into the Gold Coast City soccer team and reversed their fortunes.

From there he moved to the Brisbane Strikers and this is where we find things that should make Swansea City fans worried, very worried indeed. He established himself as Chairman and managing director of “Strikers Football Club Pty Ltd” so that (his words) “I could get on with running the thing without any hindrance”

One of his duties as managing director he decided was to issue new shares of which he bought enough to ensure that he had the controlling interest in the club. This action didn’t go down well and, led by Clem Jones – co-founder of the Strikers it led to court action.

All this eventually led to Petty selling his shares back to the club and walking away with an out-of-court settlement in April 2000. But Petty wasn’t finished, he then became President of the revamped Queensland Soccer Federation(QSF) and again decided to get involved in more acrimony with the Strikers shareholders.

Leeds United negotiated a deal with the Strikers which Petty managed to stall by telling Leeds that the Brisbane licence was not held by the club but by the QSF. Clem Jones initiated action to wind up the QSF over a $875,000 dollar debt to him. Petty’s response was that the Strikers owed the money not the QSF. And so battle commenced. One of Jones’ comments at the time may sound familiar to us fans of the Jacks at the moment

“Next time the Strikers played, far fewer people turned up. We thought it would build up from there but instead it went down. I kept putting money in by dribs and drabs. I hoped that others would come in somewhere along the line and we’d get sponsorships and so on.”

Petty found himself agreeing with Jones at this time and says they were out of their depth when it came to running a football club “I’ve criticised enough but, to them it was just a toy and nobody wanted to play with it anymore”

When Petty departed as chairman of the Strikers, it is said that some players wondered whether the Strikers had become an irritating obstacle in what they believed to be his ultimate dream – establishing a new Queensland side.

Petty denies this and says that all he wanted to see was a successful Queensland side. Probably on the Gold Coast so maybe that hidden agenda was there after all.

The QSF once turned the lights off at the Strikers ground because of the debts, an action which Petty described as hard financial reality. “Turning off the lights was meant to send a message ‘Guys, pull your head in and sort this out’ In the end we relented. We let them have the lights back on, to the detriment of this federation because the debt got bigger and bigger”

As for the Leeds deal, Petty says his actions were all best intentions and all that “Why in hell would I destroy a deal with Leeds United which solves our problems as well as theirs? I was advised that I had to put Leeds on notice that we (The QSF) were actual holders of the right to play in the NSL and not the Strikers”

Bizarrely, Clem Jones decided to set up a prawn farm to try and keep the Strikers running after he pledged to put the profits into the football club. Jones borrowed $4m to finance this but the prawn farm went broke!

It is clear that Petty and Jones do not get on, even Petty will admit that “It’s no secret that me and Clem don’t get on – which is a shame” Referring to the debt, Petty said that the QSF should not be paying the money back to Jones “The money wasn’t paid into the federation’s account so why should we pick up a debt for something we have no control of?”

Petty seemed to have been a dream buyer for the Strikers, but it was a dream that most will tell you went sour. Is this the kind of man that we want to buy our football club.

I say no and if we have three choices – Lewis, Petty or Administration then Administration is the best option we can hope for.

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.

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