Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Jets in the Hangar
It seems that, despite initial optimism, the situation is far from being resolved. Although Culina's warning that Constantine could walk away from the club smacks of emotional blackmail (the strong-willed chairman has survived worse, after all), his mention of the ills currently affecting basketball in Australia is worth heeding. Basketball is, after all, a sport which shares much in common with football in terms of the position it occupies in Australia's sporting hierarchy, and it should be obvious by now that the A-League is in some trouble in the short term.
Needless to say, I earnestly hope that a solution is found and that the Jets do line up in Ulsan. The domestic embarrassment aside, the AFC would not look at all kindly on the matter, and even the goodwill of the newly re-elected Mohammed bin Hammam might not be enough to preserve Australia's two places in the competition, should the worst occur.
If there is one thing that is worth saying definitively about the mess, it is that all parties - the FFA, the PFA and the clubs - need to get together to properly nut out the issue of ACL participation. The fact that clubs have so little financial incentive for success (see, for instance, this analysis of Adelaide's recent troubles over at The Spawning Salmon) will be an ongoing problem unless an extra reward for the individual club can be worked into the franchise system.
The A-League needs its current "socialised" structure in the short term, and John of A Seat at the A-League is right to point out (on Bill's blog post linked above) that the MLS has done well enough with a centralised system. But competing in a continental competition with clubs that are not part of a circumscribed franchise system presents problems, and player bonuses are just one of them.