Wednesday, July 29, 2009


What A-League?

Sound the trumpets: the fifth instalment of the A-League is little more than a week away. And the question must be asked: would you know it?

One would have expected, given the Socceroos' recent qualification for the World Cup and Australia's own bid for the event, that the new league season would have been marketed aggressively. But frankly, in Sydney at least, there has been little fanfare.

The pre-season has been long and almost tedious, although at least some distinguished visitors in Fulham and Wolves have jetted in this time. The frequent trial games have been reasonably well-attended, and most of the clubs seem to have established a core supporter base by now. But I do wonder how many new fans will be attracted, at least in the early rounds.

It's a question, once again, of resources. With the costs associated with a World Cup campaign (let alone a World Cup bid) set to mount, it's not surprising to see the FFA skimping in some areas. And there have been a few subtle advantages resulting from the league's low profile; the initial furore over the Seb Ryall case, for instance, has died down completely. And yes, there are still the other codes to think about. The market is close to saturation point, and hopefully we will see a bigger push once the oval-ball sports go into hibernation.

But has there really been enough of a push so far, with the competition clearly at a vital crossroads? Expansion was undoubtedly necessary, but it carries obvious risks, the main one being that the new franchises will pull the whole league down if crowds fail to materialise. Ensuring that the league presents an attractive face in the existing markets is surely a good way to give the new boys a helping hand.

'The new boys' or at least Gold Coast only seem to have smashing Brisbane on their mind. And I am not talking on the field. Frankly it is disgusting. I wonder if FFA is spending all its time with its lawyers trying to work out how to get out this mess.
We had a piece of really good news here in Melbourne. 774 Victoria (The ABC Victorian station) will broadcast the home matches live.

This is great news on many fronts. The best thing is that it is a real top rating mainstream station. SEN was good, but it was still a niche sport station. This is very symbolic in the way that Association Football is perceived in the media. Association Football is now part of the sport smorgasbord of 774 which include mainstays such as Australian Rules Football and Cricket.

It also great for the coverage. SEN would drop off away from the Melbourne metropolitan area. 774 covers the whole of Victoria.
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