The Lion's Roar update

Wow, what a huge week it has been for our campaign to convince the club to put your jumper to a vote. Almost too much for one blog post!

Stacks of attention from the media, club legends getting behind us. A hundred letters written to the club, ten thousand hits on our website, well over a thousand subscribers to this list and and of course some ‘intriguing’ reactions from our Club.

Lots of people have asked us about the club using the police to evict us from public land near the gabba at Friday night’s game.  We will give you the facts.

And a wrap up of where things are at, what's next and what you can do to help.

Let's get started:

Club legends join our cause

Club legend Chris Johnson really gave our campaign legs when he threw his voice behind us in print and on TV 

Then on Sunday Alastair Lynch added his voice to the growing chorus in his column in the Sunday Mail.

Here's hoping more jump on board as word of our campaign spreads further. Unfortunately so many of our former club champs are employed at other clubs and are therefore unable to comment publicly on the issue (as much as many of them have told us they would like to).

The Club's response to our campaign and why it makes no sense

The two year rule

When queried in a press conference late last week, Lions CEO Malcolm Holmes said the current Lions jumper is locked in until the end of 2014 due to an AFL policy requiring jumper designs be worn for two year cycles. 

This seems a bit strange as the end of 2014 would mark five years of the paddle-pop jumper.

It’s also strange because this is the same AFL policy to which both Melbourne and Port Adelaide simply requested and obtained exemptions from the AFL. 

So the idea that the club somehow cannot change the jumper this year because of the AFL rule just does not stack up.

While we're at it, here is how the Bulldogs decided their jumper by vote recently, setting a fantastic example of a club genuinely engaging their members and supporters.

...Isn't it interesting that all those examples the clubs abandoned their modern over-designed jumpers for much simpler, more traditional jumpers. 

Results of the Real Footy Lions Jumper poll:

Results of the Real Footy Lions Jumper poll:

Our member's charter

The other problem with the club’s stance is that it runs completely against our Members Charter. Our club adopted the Charter in what was supposedly a sign that the new administration was going to listen to its members more than the previous administration.

Specifically page 2 of the Charter:

CONSULTATION AND INFORMATION
“The Brisbane Lions will consult members on a regular basis through focus groups and surveys on significant issues affecting the club and/or members.“

We are not asking for a spill of the board. We are not asking for them to sack the coach. We are simply asking for the club to adhere to the member’s charter; to survey the members to see what we think. Given the support our campaign has received, this is clearly a significant issue affecting our members. Therefore the Lions Board simply must consult us.

Members are surveyed frequently by our Club about trivial matters such as keyrings and caps. But when it comes to something substantial like our jumper they almost seem hell-bent on not letting us have a say. We just don't understand why.

Does our Members Charter actually mean anything or is it really just empty words? What is the point of having a Members Charter if the club can simply ignore it when it suits them?

Flyer hand-outs at the Collingwood game (The good, the bad and the ugly)

On Friday night before the Lions/Collingwood game our volunteers hit the streets to see how many other Gabba attendees wanted a voice on the issue.

The good

We were overwhelmed by the sensational response we received from Lions supporters outside the ground (not such a great response from the Collingwood supporters).

Members Margaret and Robert with the banner Margaret made to protest the loss of our beloved jumper

Members Margaret and Robert with the banner Margaret made to protest the loss of our beloved jumper

So much goodwill was displayed to our volunteers with so many people wanting to share their stories and their frustration with the current jumper, and the club, on this issue. Last Friday night just reinforced to us that a huge majority of Lions supporters want the club to do something about this.

The bad

We don't have full control of the media, but we've been trying to keep our campaign as respectful to the club as possible. We wish to minimise potential damage or cost to our club.

It was with that in mind that we cleared our flyer plans with the Club, police and local council before the game. Despite that, a Gabba staff member approached some of our volunteers handing out flyers in the park near gate 2 with police in tow and asked them to move on. When our volunteers replied they had cleared it with the club, the Gabba staff member replied "it is the club who has asked us to move you on".

The police, also somewhat bemused because they knew the park to be public space, called over a female Lions staff member to get the Club's explanation. She explained the Lions had *just* passed a resolution giving them control over the park while the event was on.

At this point, still bemused but looking for a resolution, the police suggested to our volunteers that if they cross the road, they would ensure our team wouldn't be hassled any further. Our volunteers did so. We’re sure the others handing out leaflets in the park unchallenged (rowers asking for donations and a burger place handing out vouchers) appreciated the extra space.

The ugly

In a very carefully worded statement on Sunday morning club CEO Malcolm Holmes said he did not believe anyone from the club was involved and he had received no reports of ejections.

Not believing anyone from the club was involved is not the same as actually denying that they were... And yes, technically, our people were not ejected from the park.  They left after Club officials instructed police and security guards to ask them to leave under threat of ejection.

Police have confirmed that they did attend and did speak to "supporters" in the park.  We're in the process of getting statutory declarations from our volunteers on the issue. Of course it would make this situation a whole lot simpler if the club just came clean and publicly set the record straight.

Where things are at

Sadly the club has made no binding commitment whatsoever to addressing the jumper issue. Malcolm has made one very brief and vague comment about ‘looking’ at it at the end of 2014 (we have no idea what 'looking' actually means). However Lions Chairman Angus Johnson went on ABC radio the very next day dismissing our campaign, while claiming the club had only received half a dozen letters and emails and that half of those supported the current jumper.

We can tell you, with certainty, that well over a thousand people signed up to our website within a week and more than 100 of them submitted letters to us.

We can’t explain the huge disparity in the figures. To eliminate any "confusion" about whether this is a significant issue we are going to hand deliver your letters to the club next week. We hope the club will recognise that it is in everyone's best interests to respect their members by giving a definitive response.

You can help by

1) Getting your letter sent in to the club.

Brisbane Lions
PO Box 1535
Coorparoo DC QLD 4151

2) Uploading your letter to our website. Get it to us by Monday night and we guarantee your letter gets to the club by hand delivering it!

3) Spreading the word.

Thanks so much for all your support!

Together we'll be heard!

Brisbane Lions Fans Demand Jumper Vote

Our Jumper, Our Say - Fans Demand a Vote

The return of the Brisbane Lions’ traditional jumper for two matches this year has prompted members and supporters to renew their call for a vote on the current jumper design.

In late 2009, the Lions unexpectedly changed its logo and jumper to the image known colloquially as the “paddlepop lion”.  The move was made after no consultation with members and supporters.

With a new Chairman and CEO at the helm of the club, The Lions Roar is calling for a member vote on the jumper design, citing independent research that the issue is highly divisive among fans.  

The campaign has garnered significant interest, with more than 600 fans registering their support in just two days, with no sign of easing up.

The AFL is seeing a return back to traditionally designed jumpers, often prompted by a push from fans.  Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs and the West Coast Eagles have all reverted to more traditional jumpers after experimenting with modernised designs.  Other clubs like Richmond, Collingwood and Essendon have kept jumper changes to a minimum over many years.

The Lion's Roar spokesman Adam Staines says, “We’ve heard a lot of dissatisfaction with how the Board went about changing the jumper in 2009.  There was a real lack of consultation and respect for members and supporters.  That bred significant disenchantment with the club’s administration which lingers today.  

“The jumper is so important to the identity, culture and heritage of a football club. The number of fans registering with us via our website shows that people still feel passionate about this issue.

“The Board should be about serving the members and supporters.  To do that, they have to ask us what we want.  We want the club to give members and supporters the chance to vote on this issue.  That’s what the club should have done 4 years ago.  It is time to right that wrong.”

The Lion's Roar has put out a call for Lions members and supporters to register on the organisation’s website www.thelionsroar.net.  It has also asked for fans to write letters to the club to call for a vote on this issue, citing the club’s indifference to email and social media feedback as an impediment to getting the message through.

Staines says: “There are good people on the Board but they are perpetuating a bad decision made by the previous administration.  We support the current Board and are hopeful that this campaign prompts them to do the right thing and give fans a vote. But if they continue to ignore members, we have been collecting proxies should a Board challenge be required.  Hopefully, it won’t come to that.”

AFL BREAKS PROMISE TO CLUBS AND FANS

The Lion’s Roar, has uncovered a secret agreement signed by the AFL under which the Brisbane Lions were guaranteed 6 Home and Away games in Melbourne every year.

This previously unknown agreement was signed at the time of the Fitzroy/Brisbane merger by then AFL commissioner Graeme Samuel and CEO Ross Oakley. It committed the league to fixturing the Lions for a minimum of 6 regular season games in Melbourne each year.

This year the Lions play a record low 4 games in Melbourne. The AFL are sending them to Tasmania to play a Hawks home game and to Darwin for a Demons home game. GWS, meanwhile, have been fixtured to play 6 games in Melbourne.  The Eagles, Crows and Dockers all have more games in Melbourne than the Lions this year.

The Lions Roar spokesperson James Kliemt says “This document confirms what we’ve long suspected. It is time for the AFL to uphold their end of the merger deal every year - not just when they pick and choose.  We are simply asking for the AFL to uphold their end of the merger agreement and to give the Lions what is rightfully theirs.”

"Given the Lions' unique merged history, it is not unreasonable to expect priority for Melbourne games over other non-Victorian clubs. It is galling to see clubs like GWS without that heritage and fan base play more Melbourne games."

"Instead of sending us to play Melbourne-based teams in Darwin and Tasmania, the AFL should be helping the Lions focus on their two key markets."

"The Lions Roar calls on the AFL to honour their commitment to the Lions by scheduling them to play a minimum of 6 games in Melbourne and 11 games in Brisbane every home and away season henceforth.”

The AFL played a significant hand in forcing Fitzroy to merge with Brisbane. To help ease the pain of Fitzroy supporters seeing their team moved to Brisbane, the AFL committed to scheduling 'no less than 6 games in Melbourne' each year, giving local fans the opportunity to keep the connection with their team alive.

Immediately after the merger, the AFL fulfilled their promise. In each of the 4 years immediately after the merger, the Lions were fixtured for at least the 6 game minimum - hitting a high point of 8 games in '98. However in the 10 years since Andrew Demetriou was appointed CEO, the AFL have fallen short of their commitment 7 times.

Brisbane Lions supporters are furious at the AFL for what they describe as a series of broken promises by the game’s administrators.  Long-time Lions member Ben Smith says “When the AFL made the merger happen, they promised that Fitzroy fans would still get to see their team play. Now we have proof they’ve been breaking that promise for years. Last year I heard Andrew Demetriou confessing that the AFL needs to do more to help Brisbane. This year he was talking about how the AFL prides itself on having strong core values and acting with integrity and honesty.  I’m hearing lots of talk but not seeing any action.  The AFL can’t keep kicking The Lions in the teeth like this.”

Four Non-Victorian Teams to Play More Melbourne Games than Lions

Close examination of the 2013 fixture highlights the AFL’s lack of regard for Melbourne-based Lions fans, which comes as “a slap in the face”, according to Lions supporters advocacy group The Lion’s Roar.

West Coast, Adelaide, Fremantle and league newcomer GWS will play more games in Melbourne next year than the Lions. This comes despite the AFL-approved Brisbane Bears/Fitzroy Lions merger agreement guaranteeing a minimum of six games annually. 

The AFL has scheduled only four games in Melbourne for the Lions next year.

“Respectfully, those four other teams have no cultural link to Melbourne.  In contrast, it is proudly the Lions’ second home. We call on the AFL to explain why they have deprioritised our Melbourne-based fans.” says the Lion’s Roar spokesperson Adam Staines.

The AFL earlier cited two reasons for rejecting the Lions’ request for six Melbourne games according to Lions CEO Malcolm Holmes yesterday.

“Hawthorn and Melbourne have commercial deals which see them sell games interstate, which in our case, has resulted in games in Darwin and Launceston, instead of Melbourne.”

“And 2 - the introduction of GWS and the Gold Coast. The introduction of more teams into expansion markets mean ‘away’ games are somewhat more diluted away from Melbourne with these two expansion sides.”

The Lion’s Roar, on behalf of Melbourne-based fans, rejects these excuses.

“The League had 18 teams last year and yet the AFL managed to uphold their obligation to 6 games in Melbourne. As for the Melbourne teams’ interstate games, the AFL has 16 other teams they can send before us.” said Staines.

The Lion’s Roar believes the AFL is spreading the Lions too thin, at the expense of their Melbourne fans.

“With all due respect to Darwin and Tasmania, the Lions have enough on their plates trying to grow the game in Queensland and cater to their Victorian supporters, without being sent to the League’s frontiers.”

It is not just Melbourne-based fans disappointed by the AFL’s stance. Queensland-based Craig Nicol is one of many who have rallied in support of their southern colleagues:

"Originally a Bears fan, now a proud long-term Brisbane Lions member, I embrace the Fitzroy part of our heritage.”

“I get down to at least one Melbourne game each year and love joining the fans down there and seeing their passion.”

“Giving them 4 games is just plain wrong. The AFL approved the merger agreement guaranteeing 6 games down there, so they need to live up to that obligation. Next year, GWS has more games down there than we do!”

“The ‘Fitzroy’ chant going up at the pre-Hall of Fame match this year gave me goose bumps. It was such a special moment and a great initiative from the Club. Why would the AFL want to undo all of that work?"

The Lion’s Roar says fans have had enough.

“We demand the AFL honour their obligation to schedule six Lions games in Melbourne each year. With a League concerned about integrity, that should be a non-negotiable.”

Lions Fans Seething Over AFL’s Melbourne Fixture Snub

Lions fans are furious with the AFL today announcing that their club would play only four games in Melbourne in 2013, according to supporters advocacy group “The Lion’s Roar”.

The AFL has once again disregarded a long-standing arrangement guaranteeing a minimum of 6 Lions games in Melbourne each year, says The Lion’s Roar spokesperson Adam Staines.

“In 1996, the AFL approved a merger between the Fitzroy Lions and the Brisbane Bears which guaranteed ‘not less than 6’ home and away games to be scheduled in Melbourne each year.”

“This allowed Fitzroy supporters the opportunity to continue following their team.”
“This year's fixture is particularly galling for Lions supporters with their team’s four games in Melbourne marking an all-time low. To add salt to the wound they’re playing two Victorian teams interstate; the Hawks in Tasmania and the Demons in Darwin.”

The AFL has now failed to meet the 6 game minimum a total of nine times in the thirteen seasons since 2000, after initially honouring the agreement.

In supporting the Lions’ continued existence as a two town team, the AFL must ensure that Lions supporters in Melbourne have a reasonable opportunity to see their team play.  Having committed to 6 Lions games in Melbourne per year, the AFL is obligated to deliver on its commitment.

Joel Thompson, a Melbourne-based Lions member of 20 years, is dismayed by the AFL’s failure to honour that commitment.

“I come from a family of four generations of (Fitzroy and Brisbane) Lions supporters, so ensuring the Lions heritage continues in Melbourne means everything to me.”

“For this to happen, the AFL must guarantee the Lions at least 6 games in Melbourne each year. Unlike most supporters, we don't get to see our team play too often. We rely on the AFL doing the right thing by us, especially when it was such a key part of the merger.”

“Sadly though, they don't seem to care about those of us in Melbourne who love the Lions.”

The Brisbane Lions see virtually no financial benefit from Melbourne games. This goes some way to explaining why the Lions accept the continued poor treatment of its Melbourne based fans by the AFL, feeding perceptions that the club's annual request for 6 games in Melbourne is a window-dressing public relations exercise.

The Lion's Roar demands that the AFL correct its continued disregard for the thousands of Melbourne-based Brisbane Lions supporters.  We call on Andrew Demetriou to recognise the Lions' unique status as a two-town club by honouring the merger agreement guaranteeing a minimum of 6 home and away games in Melbourne annually.

Addendum:
Deed of Arrangement between Fitzroy Lions and Brisbane Bears, Clause 7.2(h).:

The Merged Club will play one half of the total number of home and away games per season at the Gabba and as many Melbourne based away premiership games as possible will be played at Optus Oval or the Melbourne Cricket Ground (but not less than 6) with any other away premiership games at any of Waverley, Optus Oval or the Melbourne Cricket Ground at which Melbourne based members of the Merged Club will have home ground status (in respect of which Brisbane Bears will make a contribution to gate receipts of an amount determined by AFL).