Not sure what the AFL expected when it opened two clubs is Queensland, but unless those expectations were incredibly low, it would seem to be a case of a failed experiment.
The Brisbane Lions are a story in their own right, fielding a senior list of 22 frustrated rugby players who simply lacked the bulk and impressive quadriceps to play the fifteen-man game.
At least they have some history, having been spawned in Fitzroy and having enjoyed some success at times.
The Gold Coast Suns, on the other hand, have played just 164 games over the course of seven-and-a-half seasons and have to deal with the reality that they have won only 43 of those games.
Former Lion great Jonathan Brown said as much, when he told Fox Footy’s On The Couch that the Suns “will fold” if something is not done to bolster the club.
“I’ve lived on the Gold Coast for the last five years, they do not care about this team at the moment,” Brown said.
Since coming into the league in 2011, the Suns have never managed to average above 20,000 fans per game and with slight variations; the number has been trending downward for home ground games.
The Suns see bigger crowds on the road.
For the last complete season, 2017, 11 home games attracted only 219,000 spectators.
While those numbers sound dreary, they are basically no worse than those of the NRL’s Gold Coast Titans are. The Titans averaged fewer than 14,000 for home games in 2017.
It would seem that the larger issue is that Queensland, even though the third most populous state in Australia has just over two million residents. Even with sports enjoying huge popularity, the level of fan participation for Suns and Titans games is below 10 percent.
As for the Suns, Brown was possibly predicting the future when he said, “If we don’t give them help to get them back on track, they will fold and it will be an absolute disaster for the AFL.”
A fixture with 17 sides would present huge challenges for the league, just as when we were lads, we were challenged by the math propositions of how to equally share 17 apples amongst three boys.