Thursday, March 13, 2008
Expansive Thoughts - another update
And so to the topic at hand: the cancellation of the planned A-League expansion for 2008/09.
Although the decision has been decried in many quarters, I feel the FFA have actually made the correct call. The introduction of the youth league, with all the costs involved, would have made it difficult for the national federation to give the start-up clubs the sort of financial and logistical support they may have required initially.
The question does arise, though: would the FFA have been able to prop up the ailing Northern Thunder bid, or fast-track the nebulous Wollongong one, if the youth league wasn't on the agenda? It's a point I've raised before, and it now seems more relevant than ever.
Mike Cockerill made a solid argument for pushing ahead with the expansion despite the collapse of the Northern Thunder bid, but I think he underestimates the awkwardness of a 9-team league, particularly in combination with the new youth league. The scheduling could become messy and disjointed.
The move to ten should definitely happen in 2009/10, however. There are key markets to enter, and the desire for greater variety in the league will be at a high pitch by then.
However interesting to note that tonight on the news there were reports of the meetings of the presidents of AFL teams and all agreed that the expansion of the AFL to Western Sydney and the Gold Coast should proceed failrly quickly.
The president of the Geelong football club Frank Costa said the clubs threw their support behind the move because they could not afford to fall behind other football codes.
Chief executive Andrew Demetriou also said that the AFL will be left trailing other football codes unless it acts soon.
"There's no doubt from our presentation today that the cost of not doing this, the cost of not expanding, we believe is a far greater cost to the competition than doing it," he said.
So, can A-League implement this for next year?
No way in the known world will the A-League have any prom./rel. system in place for the next three or four years, let alone next season. Having said that, the AFC has been prepared to relax some requirements vis-a-vis Australia up to now, so it probably won't be an issue.
I've also read another piece of info (not sure if it's the same document) on the AFC website which states that ACL clubs must have youth systems in place.
I wonder if this is the reason why the youth league has been brought in so quickly, maybe as a sweetener to the AFC for not having promotion/relegation in place? Having an absence of both would have been quite detrimental for A-League clubs and the amount of ACL spots available.
I just hope they go about the process right for Season 5. Surely the extra time should mean the decision on who is granted licences has to be made earlier, to give the teams the best possible time to establish themselves. A decision in December-January surely leaves ample time for bids that we are continually told are "well down the road"
The AFC document is certainly an interesting one, although agree with others sentiments that we're simply not going to have promotion/relegation in time. To be honest I can't see that happening in a LONG LONG LONG time. I read somewhere that no country actually met all the AFC's requirements.
Please do a "review" if you get a chance to watch the ACL matches Mikey, would love to hear your take on them.