Last night's sports program on 3XY Radio Hellas was some of the most incredible radio I've ever heard. Among the many feelings the program evoked were fascination, disbelief and incredulity. It was also often an unnerving listening experience. The stakes have been raised.
Throughout the extraordinarily lengthy coverage given to the issues covered in the Ta Nea's recent articles - I would hazard that at least 70-80 minutes of their alloted 130 minutes was spent on the matter - there was the constant and very defensive catchcry about the lack of a personal agenda in pursuing these matters.
What was particularly mind boggling to them (and to me, although for different reasons) is the way that the Ta Nea articles have created a sense of panic among South's supporter base. They're confused because they believe they are reporting the truth - however I'm confused as to why they're confused about the panic that's spread which is an inevitable result of the articles they've written.
The great swathe of South supporting family, for better or worse, relies on either the South official site or the local Greek press for its information. The former has been near silent on the issues as covered by Ta Nea, excluding whatever material they've published before. The latter saw a chance for some cheap thrills, and have run with it.
The net effect? People brought up in a culture where corruption from authority figures is seen as de rigueur - indeed those who are not corrupt are as σουρδοι, a word from Kozani meaning naive, innocent, with an unusual negative attachment to it - buying into these conspiracies.
One major breakthrough is that the Greek Media Group, in one of its guises, finally put names to the disaffected former committee members. These are now confirmed to be George Koukoulas, Lucky Chrisomalidis and Tom Karatzas.
Among the other claims that the program made either directly or indirectly:
- That the club disrespected the two people who loaned the club money back in 2004, Chris Christopher and Tony Toumbourou.
- That the club has disrespected former president Leo Anezakis and his family.
- That the club was being run like a dictatorship.
- That anyone who agreed with the board is a sycophant.
- The fact that South no longer controls Lakeside.
- The $2.50 Ticketmaster ticket surcharge on games at Lakeside.
- That South is the only club not working with the other clubs to, I assume, oppose the NCR reforms (an approach other supporters are also concerned with).
- Treatment of life members (one of his favourite causes)
- Regarding the $300,000 annual government stipend (I suppose about it not being used correctly), acting as if it that money is clear profit.
- About the changes to the junior academy, berating both the costs, while claiming that the club will pocket about $30,000 profit from the program.
- Smoking bans inside the stadium on match days (though he was corrected by one of the hosts, who mentioned that this is no different to AAMI Park or the MCG)
There was no mention however, that rightly or wrongly, most of the supporters in attendance were supportive of the club's direction on this matter. The way the matter was presented on the show was thus incredibly skewed toward Argiri's (and George Koukoulas') minority position.
Equally, when they had asked people to call in, the reaction to those callers (all off air) that seemed to criticise the Greek Media Group's approach was noticeably hostile. If this is the 'Greek community's team' (a laughable and long outdated notion), surely those who support the current committee have just as much right right to have their views heard fairly as do the naysayers?
The presenters and contributors also asked what the board have achieved in the past seven years. The focus was often on on field results, and well, who hasn't been annoyed by them? Equally they could ask their frequent guest Aki Ioannas of Oakleigh what they've achieved in the same time period. Or any of the big spending clubs who haven't managed to snare a title.
If we're talking about off-field issues though, well, including those persons who are now on the outer, the board has actually done a pretty decent job of keeping the whole thing afloat for as long as they have, to the point where it seems we've turned things around and are ready to build again instead of just survive.
What's odd though, is that despite all the problems and mistakes the club has made over the past seven years, and all the enemies and enmities that they've racked up, that not one of those three aforementioned persons, who have spent varying amounts of time on the committee since the end of the NSL, are apportioned any of the blame for these failures.
I Hope You Guys Know What You're Doing Department
The relative silence on all these issues being undertaken by the club is intriguing, and not without risk. By not responding, they're obviously taking the chance that the momentum of this anti-committee campaign will eventually run out. Combine that with a belief that the proof will be in the pudding - Toumbourou's sons dealt with, social club and lease sorted, balance sheets in the black - and the hope that news of these possible successes will filter through to the hoi polloi.
Mud sticks. But I suppose getting dragged into a street fight isn't worthwhile either - you end up lowering yourself to the level of those making vague accusations, hiding behind phony anonymity, and you lose anyway. And what chance is there of actually changing people's opinions, when people would rather believe the worst?
The notion that 3XY/Ta Nea has offered an opportunity to the board to tell their side of their story, and that they've knocked it back, won't play well in the sticks. But if the board wants to stick to their approach, especially after reportedly being black banned from the program for about a year anyway, that's their prerogative.
Here's hoping that it all goes to plan.
Also interesting was later on they had a representative from Bentleigh Greens on the show, who was at a loss to explain the poor crowds his team got in 2012 despite playing well, making finals etc. He seemed to put the blame squarely on Joe Public (and in my mind, not necessarily without good reason), but I couldn't think of why the hosts let him get off so easily for making that call, and especially how $12 was not expensive in terms of ticket prices, when earlier assertions were made that South's current committee were to blame for poor attendances since the end of the NSL, and that the Ticketmaster surcharge, which the club does not control nor receive, was somehow excessive.
Lastly, Hellenic Cup committee chairperson/president (and a 'χωριανό' of my dad) Jim Massis stated that the Hellenic Cup would not be held next year, as the organising committee had not received any expressions of interest to host the event. He appeared to apportion blame towards the restructure of the league system, rather address the issue of host clubs not making any money from the competition. Is this the end of the tournament? Wait and see I guess.