Besides the obvious frustration with the lack of on field results and the rapidly declining chances of defending our title, I fear that our poor performances this year will have a much bigger cost. If you look at 2008, things couldn't have been rosier for Manly. We had two benevolent owners willing to back the club financially, a savvy CEO, and most importantly a quality football team who swept all before them in an irrepressible run through the semis, culminating in a record GF win. Quality on field performances were backed with a cleanskin off field image,.... a marketing dream. Manly were back and were the talk of the town. Topped off with a WCC win and there was talk of them being one of the best club sides ever. Fast forward to Round 8 2009 and what do we have ? Two owners embroiled in a very public spat, indulging in one-upmanship via the media. Factional boardroom bickering. A CEO on the outer. Our number one player (and face of the game no less) suspended for drunken behaviour and facing sexual assault charges. Another player accussed of assualting a sponsor. Poor on field performances making us look like a shadow of the all conquering side of 2008 and seeing us languishing at the bottom of the table. The real cost of all this will be disenchanted fans, reduced membership uptakes, poor home crowds, and difficulty in raising sponsorship. All of which will have a massive effect on the bottom line and the viability of the club going forward. All in a year where funding for upgrading Brookie has been finally secured. Times are tough and likely to get tougher, and we can already see some clubs really starting to struggle financially. On field performances are all that counts and can make up for a multitude of back office shortcomings. "Build it and they will come" is the mantra. I can't help feeling we have blown a golden opportunity to secure the future of the club with the lacklustre start to season 2009. We had so much momentum that could have been built on from a marketing point of view, and all it needed was a solid tilt at back to back premierships. I fear we may have lost the chance to secure a whole new generation of younger fans, not only those geographically attached to the side, but the country kids as well. Nothing breeds support like success, kids love a winner. I know that 76 and 78 secured it for me when I was scratching around looking for a side to follow growing up in the country. All those closet Manly fans will now go back into the woodwork instead of getting out to the game, taking up a membership package or buying some merchandise. What sponsor wants to be associated with a side whose only media exposure is for players' court cases or articles highlighting the teams fall from grace. How is a upgraded Brookvale Oval going to get the nod when we are only getting 7000 or 8000 people through the gate ? Gosford anyone ? I really hope that we don't look back at this season and think "what could have been". Let's hope it's not too late to turn things around.