Soccer chief attacks Gold Coast

GOLD Coast United's owner Clive Palmer and coach Miron Bleiberg's self-promotion have been blamed for the lack of support that has led them to cap Skilled Park crowds at 5000.

A-League soccer boss Archie Fraser, angered by the controversial lockout of fans for Saturday night's clash with North Queensland, yesterday blamed United for failing to connect with their community and promote “local heroes”.

Fraser said the Coast's grassroots supporters had turned their back on the self-proclaimed glamour club, which had shown in the meagre home attendances.

“I think the way they have approached promoting the product and their club has been more about promoting the owner and the coach than promoting the heroes,” Fraser said.

“Clearly the public at this point in time is switched off even though the team plays good football. They play stylish football and win but there are no local heroes.”

Fraser also claimed fragmentation within the fledgling club had led to Sunday's record 6-0 loss in Wellington. His comments prompted denials from Coast officials who say they must cut costs to stay afloat.

“At the end of the day we need to be a successful venture or the club won't be here for a long time,” club CEO Clive Mensink said.

No more than 5000 spectators will be allowed into the eastern grandstand at Skilled Park on Saturday night when Robbie Fowler's North Queensland Fury look to avenge their 5-0 round two thrashing by United.

Palmer and Bleiberg have defended the move on the basis that recent crowds of 4209 and 4509 have contributed to significant losses on their rent agreement with Stadiums Queensland.

Under their current arrangement, the rent drops from $140,000 to $40,000 per game for crowds less than 5000.

By capping the crowd, United aren't required to pay a state government transport levy and will also save money on stadium staff and not having to implement a traffic plan.

The Coast yesterday dropped ticket prices for Saturday night's game, with top-end adult tickets being reduced from $55 to $30 and $15 for children.



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