• On the front foot ... Perth Glory chief Tony Sage insists he has the backing of Glory's fans (Getty)
Perth Glory boss Tony Sage has ridiculed suggestions that a supporters mutiny could precipitate Football Federation Australia taking back the club’s licence, dismissing claims the club is in crisis as "totally unfounded".
By
SBS EXCLUSIVE: Dave Lewis

11 Mar 2014 - 4:16 AM  UPDATED 11 Mar 2014 - 2:41 PM

The mining tycoon, who has pumped $15 million into Perth since 2007, insisted that fan unrest, detailed in an 'unsigned" letter released to sections of the media and addressed to the board, was the work of 'a couple of disgruntled individuals" and that he retains the backing of the vast majority of Glory followers.

The letter, purporting to represent the views of club members, listed a number of grievances and called for root and branch change at the club, demanding Sage either sell the club to a 'willing and able buyer or forfeit the Perth Glory FC franchise licence back to Football Federation Australia" if its calls for reform are ignored.

While the club is languishing at the foot of the table and seemingly out of finals contention, Sage – who felt compelled to sack coach Alistair Edwards late last year after a player revolt against him – came out in staunch defence of his running of the club, which he claims will not be down in the dumps for too long.

'I have seen some of these reports that we are supposedly a club in crisis and that I no longer have the support of the FFA, well that’s simply not true," Sage told The World Game from Dubai.

'We are number three in the competition in corporate sponsorship, we are just behind Western Sydney Wanderers in increases in membership, we are fifth in corporate sales and we are sixth in TV ratings.

'It’s bulls... to say we are in turmoil. Yes, we are bottom of the league but I said at the start of the season that this would be a transitional year.

'Whoever sent out that letter didn’t have the balls to sign it – and the reality is there are a few a few individuals and disgruntled ex-employees behind this attempt to destabilise the club.

'Damian De Bohun will be coming here to show his support and assure people that everything is fine.

'Nine tenths of our fan base are behind me – there was a sign at the Shed last year thanking me for the backing I give the club.

'The fans know what I do and that I bleed purple. A couple of unhappy people writing letters doesn’t worry me unduly.

'They tried to organise a march five weeks against me ago and two people turned up.

"We know that a certain ex-employee is stoking a lot of this and I am not worried because I go to the games and I know the supporters are behind me.

"Perth is not on any FFA watch list and is not in trouble. We would have actually made a profit this year if Alistair Edwards had not convinced me that William Galls (Perth’s marquee signing) was what we needed."

On suggestions that he is handing 'friends" key positions, Sage retorted: 'Those people are spreading lies, saying things like I hire my friends (in reference to the appointment of Jason Brewer as CEO).

'The fact is I have known Jason in and out of the industry over the years but have never socialised with him and never been a friend.

'He has a great background in finance and also a football background in his time as president of Joondalup ECU. He has been heavily involved in grassroots football and just happens also to be a brilliant fund manager and merchant banker."

Addressing Glory’s disconcerting form this season, Sage declared: 'We have had some horrific injuries this year but crowds are actually up this year from around 8,800 last seasons to about 9,700 this season, even though we have played poorly.

"We won’t make the finals but we were in the grand final in 2012 and were unlucky not to qualify for a preliminary final last year – and I can assure you we won’t finish bottom this season.

'Four of our last five away games have been away from home but three of our last five are at home – so I am expecting a strong finish.

'We have been in three finals series out of the last four years."