CEO Update – Kaz Patafta

During my career as a footballer, two of the traits that I most valued in my teammates were honesty and accountability. That’s why, nine months ago, when Zac Anderson and I were asked to take over the running of Brisbane Roar and rejuvenate this once-great club, we tried to be honest, and promised to be accountable. 

We were honest about the situation the club was in, and defined how we felt we could lead the club to a place where stability off the pitch was mirrored by a commitment to excellence on it.  

Because fans of any club need a reason to believe. 

That’s why I feel it’s important to be open about the things we have managed to achieve so far, and what we haven’t. From a footballing point of view our hopes of challenging for the finals in both A-Leagues fell short, in the context of what has been a season of undoubted challenges. 

For the men, the disruption inherent in Ross Aloisi leaving for the chance to work at one of Asia’s biggest clubs was unfortunately repeated a matter of weeks later when his replacement as head coach, Ben Cahn, asked to step away from the role for an indefinite period due to personal reasons.  

Ben has subsequently resigned as head coach, and leaves with our absolute best wishes for the future. We were fortunate to have Ruben Zadkovich on board as an assistant that Ben had helped to choose, giving us some continuity when he stepped up as interim head coach. Over the next few days we expect to be able to make some definitive announcements about the leadership of the men’s team going forward. 

Similarly we had to take the difficult decision to change the coaching structure at the helm of our women’s team, meaning the departure of a long-standing club servant in Garrath McPherson. 

Garrath left with our gratitude for the work he has done over several seasons, and will always be welcome at Brisbane Roar. 

As our new head coach, meanwhile, Alex Smith has already begun to create the cultural change we promised on his appointment. Next season we’re confident that the fruits of that work will really begin to appear. 

That’s the thing, though. We know it can be hard for fans to have patience in these circumstances. 

 You can’t always see the work that’s going on now to improve things down the line. 

The same can be true of what we are doing on the executive. We were vocal last year about the straits the club was in, but in the time since we have cleared a significant amount of the club’s debt, including the payment of all previously pending legal settlements. As a result the club’s financial performance in FY2023/24 is better than eight of the last nine years, and puts us on a very sound footing for next year. 

That stuff isn’t as exciting as, say, the signing of a marquee player, but it’s actually the basis of everything. And what really gratifies us is we feel like the fans believe in what we’re trying to do. You’re backing us, to the tune of more than 8300 members this season compared with 3374 in 22/23 and 3588 in 21/22. 

Crowds for the men’s team are up nearly half – for the women’s team by more than double. Our ticket revenue for the men is also up by half. Only one other club had a bigger Liberty Pass membership than us this season. 

You’re backing us. 

So is the football community in Queensland. We’re building a close relationship and collaboration with Football Queensland, looking at ways to grow participation, build elite pathways and get Brisbane Roar out into the community. 

More broadly we have a four-year plan to take our club towards greater success and complete sustainability, which we intend to talk more about in coming days. That fills me with confidence. 

But then I see Sharn Freier make her debut for the Matildas a few days ago and that fills me with excitement. We have national team representation right across the club, especially in the youth teams. 

The talent is there. The fans are there. Step by step, we feel we’re getting there in rejuvenating Brisbane Roar. Thanks for your support. 

Kaz Patafta 

Chairman & CEO, Brisbane Roar FC