Brisbane Roar’s shirt-gate fiasco has claimed its first victim, with departing football director Craig Moore placed on immediate “gardening leave”.
Moore, who was working out a two-month notice period after last week’s resignation, is being held culpable for the embarrassing and shambolic wardrobe malfunctions which heaped worldwide ridicule on Brisbane as they crashed out of the AFC Champions League 3-2 in their qualifier against unfancied Filipinos Ceres-Negros.
The sight of shirt numbers falling off, and substitute Eric Bautheac marooned on the sideline for over five minutes without a duplicate after his no. 22 peeled off, left vice-chairman Chris Fong "flabbergasted and embarrassed".
Thwarted from attempting to return in a No. 30, the Frenchman was permitted to rejoin his 10 teammates with the No. 77 sticky-taped to look like a 22, in scenes of high farce.
Fong pointed the finger squarely at outgoing football director Moore saying "the buck stops with him".
Vowing to restore the credibility and pride of the stricken three-time champions, Fong said Moore’s soon-to-be announced successor would be closely monitored and the club would be lifting its game across the board.
“I was flabbergasted with images and footage I saw,” said Fong amidst a pitiless social media backlash pillorying and parodying the club.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing ... it was disgusting that we could allow ourselves to be brought down to this level. It’s indicative of what has been going on behind the scenes.
“It was a systemic failure of management in the football department.
“It has had the wrong culture and has gone down the wrong path.
“This was not about money, it has to do with attitude and process of care. Basic standards were not met.”
Fong said that resignation of former Roar captain Moore was timely, going on to explain: “He was seeing out his notice, but we’ve put him in gardening leave as of today.
“We have a football director and the buck stops with him.”
Coach John Aloisi has vowed not to stand down after the debacle and the club’s poor A-League form, and he continues to enjoy the backing of Fong and the club’s Indonesian owners, the Bakrie Group.
Fong held talks with Aloisi on Friday during a visit to Brisbane, and declared: “John remains very much part of our future plans.”
“We are not wavering from him ... he has some ideas moving ahead and with 17 players coming off contract it’s a time to make decisions on strengthening the playing group.
“John has had too much on his plate and needs stronger support to focus on his playing group, not administrative issues from the football department.
“We’re taking a long term view and our talks with John have reflected that.
“I’m happy with John ... he has a lot of potential to be a top class coach.
“He has the right temperament but just needs time.
“It’s easy to say you need to chop the coach but it’s not necessarily the answer.”
Referring back to Brisbane’s kit calamity, Fong saw a breakdown in the chain of command as one reason.
“We have a junior kit man ... I had this conversation last night with our managing director David Pourre and there was nobody between him and the junior kit man.
“The kit man made some decisions and said he’d been having problems with the number twos and sevens for a while but that he thought everything was fine.
“He didn’t have the support of the football department or the understanding of the process of reporting, or there was just a lack of interest.
“So he made decisions without referring to somebody else. He hasn’t had the right supervision or guidance.
“The management process has always been there but in this case it just hasn’t been followed. And we need to change that and ensure it never happens again.”
Brisbane have just completed a sweeping review of their medical and conditioning practices, and drastic changes have been agreed upon.
“The process of managing medical, recovery and injuries has been atrocious,” he said.
On results that have seen Brisbane slump to eighth with just four wins in 17 games, Fong added: “There are clearly issues with the playing group and performances but the way the club’s been managed under the football system and its director clearly has not been working.”
The one area Fong feels things has improved is in the financial department.
The club were forced to make an emergency cash injection of $400,000 to cover for a shortfall in attendances at Suncorp Stadium this season.
But he also admitted that the Bakries have been at fault in recent seasons for a “lack of attention”.
“We are paying the price of that this season,” he admitted.
“The problem with us in Jakarta has been that in finishing third for a couple of seasons in a row, we thought ‘what’s broken?
“But when you look below the surface a bit, you see the foundations have been weakened, and there is a lot broken.
“We are putting together a viable solution to fix things but it’s not an overnight thing.
“I am not worried about our financial position ... it’s much better than it has been in the past.”