Stuart Dew during Gold Coast's match against St Kilda in R4, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

STUART Dew's future at Gold Coast will be determined by the next four matches.

North Melbourne, Richmond, Melbourne, West Coast. If the Suns don't win three of those matches, yet another season – their 13th in the AFL – will end in crushing disappointment.

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Nothing seems to change with the Suns. Their best players perform solidly every week. Touk Miller, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, Jack Lukosius, Jarrod Witts (absent with injury the past fortnight), Sam Collins and David Swallow are a hardy bunch.

But the club just doesn't win enough matches, and there is no X-Factor anywhere on the list. They talk of a bright future, but actions don't match.

Will Powell and Touk Miller after Gold Coast's loss to Fremantle in R5 on April 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

A round five match against Fremantle at Norwood Oval as part of the AFL's Gather Round was theirs to win. They led by 23 points in the third quarter but conceded seven of the last nine goals. It was soooooo Gold Coast Suns.

In early July last year, Gold Coast extended Dew's contract as coach through to the end of 2024. It was a massive show of faith, a decision the club felt would lead to its first finals appearance.

This is Dew's sixth season. In 110 matches, he has won 30, lost 79 and drawn one. He has been given time. His contract states he will have another 41 matches (the 18 remaining in 2023, and 23 of 2024). But time is no longer an ally.


The Suns' time in the AFL has been mostly disappointing. Their first three captains – Gary Ablett, Steven May and Tom Lynch – all chose to leave. The club's salary cap somehow was, and still is, a mess. No matter the circumstances, that Jack Bowes' wage was $850,000 for the 2023 season was football crime. The salary dump exercise with Geelong last trade period, which also required the off-loading of pick seven in the national draft, equally so.

Gold Coast lost its first two matches this year before defeating Geelong in round three. It was smashed by St Kilda in round four, and poor in the final quarter against the Dockers. It has never won more than 10 matches in a season in its AFL life.


The AFL has its own problems right now, mainly the very long delays in identifying the people it wants to employ as CEO and football department boss. But it has long been frustrated by the game's 17th licence planted in the expansion market, and could not possibly be OK with how 2023 is unfolding.

It still effectively runs the Suns' operations, even if it is by stealth. It will, like everyone else in the AFL industry, be closely watching the Suns' next four matches.

Roos, Tigers, Demons, Eagles. For Dew, and by extension everyone else at this football club, this stretch of matches will determine many fates.