The 10 biggest issues facing QLD Aussie Rules
From TV rights and public transport troubles to player drain and on-field struggles, there's plenty Queensland footy needs to improve in 2019.
However, it's not all doom and gloom, the Lions are ready for a breakout season and the introduction of the AIC schools program are crucial steps forward.
Andrew Hamilton looks at the sports biggest issues.
RESTORE THE GABBA
It was once nicknamed the Gabbatoir because visiting teams came here to be slaughtered. Now it more accurately describes the smell of decay at the place. The Government task force into stadiums last year identified what every Lions fan already knew, the Gabba has become old and tired.
CHANNEL 7's NOT OUR MATE.
Get the Lions and Suns on free-to-air TV nationally and on the main channel here in Queensland. In addition to the fact only the main channel broadcasts in HD, it is a perception thing. Nothing screams minor sport like being hidden away between the endless re-runs of Hogan's Heroes and Bewitched on 7 Mate. The AFL have power here. Next time the broadcast deal is up for negotiation make it a contractual obligation of the winning bidder.
LOCK IN THE BLOCKBUSTER.
Brisbane's grudge match against Collingwood and deserting former skipper Dayne Beams on Easter Thursday at the Gabba promises to be a belter. And given it is a stand-alone fixture, the whole country should be watching. How much better would it be if it became a tradition? Lock it away for five years and let it grow. Thursday is also perfect because it doesn't have to interrupt the plans of families who want to get away somewhere for the long weekend.
ADD A MAROON FLAVOUR TO THE AFL COMMISSION
The AFL have taken their eyes off the ball up here too many times. Having a presence on the Commission would ensure the unique needs of the two Queensland clubs and the local footy community are championed in the corridors of power. Other states have always been represented, why not ours? Leigh Matthews, Clark Keating and Alastair Lynch would all be solid candidates. New Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah, who sits on the Suns board and spent time at Richmond before injury cut short his dreams of an AFL career, would bring both footy knowledge and peerless business connections to the role.
THE GPS CODE
Australian football had a major win with their introduction into the AIC sports program this year and the next target must be GPS. Rugby's dominance denies their students opportunities and it is only a matter of time before it costs the schools enrolments or the parents force an overhaul. There are 18 clubs, including two in Queensland, and almost 800 professional playing positions up for grabs in the AFL.
COME ON FANS
It's a two-way street between club and fan. The Lions have done enough over the past two years to show their fans they are on the right track. Instead of waiting until they are in the finals, get a membership or at least attend games now and join them on the journey. They'll get there quicker with a packed Gabba every week. Suns' fans, your club needs you more than ever. The Suns are broke and players keep using the fact they play in front of empty stadiums as a reason for walking out. You can do something about that.
COME ON SUNS
It's a two-way street between club and fan. Gold Coast simply has to get better. Show some ticker and give the fans a reason to attend. Being under-resourced and an interstate club in a city with a smallish population may all be valid reasons for the lack of success but it doesn't explain a lack of effort and competitiveness. Gold Coast are still loaded with top-10 draft picks and fans are entitled to expect more this year.
The shortage of green space for playing fields is a major problem. Junior footy is being played on Friday nights in some competitions to spread the load on the available grounds. For a nation that is becoming less and less healthy, this should apply to all sports.
In Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide it's a breeze to get to the ground. Here it is a mission. The proposed cross river rail would be the best thing that could happen to the Gabba. The biggest impediment for many fans in going to the footy is getting to the ground. Metricon Stadium is worse. If major investment in a viable transport system isn't made - be it tram, ferry or even more parking - the place will always be a white elephant.
STAY, JUST A LITTLE BIT LONGER
It's simple. Extend the standard draft contract to three years and give our clubs more time to settle in their interstate draftees and convince them their future is bright in the Sunshine State.
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