Ifill towers as Gold Coast beg fans to stay away

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He came, he saw, he took quite a while to get started.

However, eventually Wellington Phoenix striker Paul Ifill did what many assumed he would do at least once this season: run riot against a stunned A-League defence.

The hapless back four in question belonged to Gold Coast United, who copped an Ifill during a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the Kiwi side.

The Barbados international was the main protagonist, setting up Wellington’s first three goals before adding their fifth for good measure.

The 6-0 thrashing equals the heaviest ever defeat in the A-League’s (admittedly brief) history, and it shattered whatever aura remained about the star-studded Gold Coast side.

Prior to the match, Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg informed Wellington gaffer Ricki Herbert that he needn’t bother concentrating on this clash, claiming that Herbert had “bigger fish to fry.”

A former Kiwi international, these days Herbert doubles as coach of the New Zealand national team – with the All Whites still in the running for World Cup qualification.

But having witnessed his club side rattle in five goals before the hour mark had even ticked over, Herbert couldn’t resist a riposte: telling a stunned Bleiberg to “look at the scoreboard” – or words to that effect.

Yet, in a week in which Gold Coast were obliterated by one of the A-League’s most unfashionable clubs, their capitulation was far from the main news story.

Instead, it’s their decision to close stands at their Skilled Park Stadium home in an attempt to cap their Round 13 crowd against North Queensland Fury to fewer than 5,000 fans, that has spun the Australian football fraternity into a tizzy.

Already a deeply unpopular outfit, Gold Coast have now prompted a furious backlash from fans and officials with this unprecedented move.

The basis of Gold Coast’s astonishing decision is their desire to avoid a £1.70 transport levy that kicks in when more than 5,000 tickets are sold – ensuring free public transport for those fans that make their way to the ground.

Not only will supporters now be slugged with the cost of travelling to a stadium that features limited parking, they’ve also been denied the opportunity to buy the cheapest tickets on offer – with Gold Coast fans now expected to fork out the princely sum of £23 to sit in a near-deserted arena.

An apoplectic Football Federation Australia has been caught off-guard by the diabolical scheme, issuing a variety of stern rebukes from FFA headquarters, despite appearing powerless to prevent the move.

The news come on the back of another difficult week for football in Australia, with the mainstream media ratcheting up its anti-football campaigns ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Arguably the most amusing article came courtesy of Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph, with the newspaper claiming to have counted each and every individual who attended Sydney FC’s 2-1 defeat of Brisbane Roar at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Lo and behold, Sydney’s bastion of the truth claims to have discovered a discrepancy of some 2,000 fans from the official crowd figure posted – and they’ve helpfully included colourful seating charts and photos of empty seats to prove it.

The whole thing would be utterly laughable were it not for the fact that it highlights just how desperate some media outlets are to discredit the round ball game in Australia.

They needn’t try so hard, since at least one A-League club appears hell-bent on discrediting its own code in an already over-crowded Australian sports market.

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