Football Federation Australia's decision to revoke the Gold Coast United licence should come as no surprise, according to one Victoria University academic.
Associate Professor Bob Stewart - a researcher in the School of Sport & Exercise Science - said the stoush was a sign of something much deeper than who's to blame for the soccer club's dismal performance.
"It is really about the economic viability of FFA in its current form, and the capacity of FFA to support a national league where nearly every club is battling to break even, and its national spread is dependent on the generosity of its franchise owners," Associate Professor Stewart said.
"The idea that GCU could ever break even by having a team roster of full time professionals and attracting 4,000 fans to its weekly fixtures was pure fantasy."
But Associate Professor Stewart said club owner Clive Palmer should not be blamed for the crisis.
"He should be applauded for preparedness to give it a go in full knowledge he was throwing his capital into a bottomless financial pit dug by FFA," he said. "GCU was never going to attract a large fan base, especially in the light of the Titan's solid supporter base and the Gold Coast Sun's 2011 crash-bang entry into the AFL with a massive promotional edge in recruiting Karmichael Hunt and Gary Ablett."
Associate Professor Stewart said while on paper FFA had a nice spread of teams across the big cities in nice stadia, with solid coverage on Fox Sports and some good corporate partnerships the reality is it's an exceedingly unbalanced competition from a financial perspective.
"Once Melbourne - in the form of Victory and Heart - is taken out of the equation it all falls bit flat," he said. "If FFA cannot secure a lot more support over the next few years, it will be just a matter of time before its whole commercial edifice will come under serious challenge, or even worse, will collapse into a massive pile of sporting rubble."