Monday, December 28, 2009

 

Pim and the Parochials - another update

Clive Palmer's over-the-top outburst at Pim Verbeek's latest comments has generated plenty of discussion over the last few days. Partly because Palmer is always good copy, and partly because any comments from Verbeek that can be interpreted as anti-A-League push plenty of pundits' buttons.

The comments about Gold Coast's pre-season friendly with Fulham demonstrate, once more, that Palmer's grasp of the realities of football is tenuous indeed. And this view:

'The main criterion for any national coach should be to foster the game here in Australia...'

...only seems to have become common currency since the inception of the A-League.

A point that many have ignored is that Verbeek's remarks about playing regularly up to May essentially apply to all leagues, not just the A-League. Australia would surely have fared better in their 2001 World Cup playoff had Paul Okon, Frank Farina's key man, not been suffering from bench splinters at Middlesbrough at the time. A Verbeek might not have picked him. (If his name was Brett Holman, maybe.)

SBS's Jesse Fink has, not for the first time, come to the defence of his Dutch friend, but his Hiddink comparison is misplaced. Unlike his erstwhile assistant, Hiddink was a consummate PR expert, and knew how to be tactful without appearing deferential. Verbeek's strictures have often been thoughtless and ill-timed, and that is the real issue. On the quality of the A-League, he has a point. But it is not a point that needs to be made so publicly.

As for the question of Asian sojourns, there appears no sign of Josh Kennedy (or even Jade North) disappearing from Verbeek's plans. On the matter of the scheduling of the A-League season, however, Fink is on firmer ground. Fox have been the piper calling the tune in this area thus far, but the FFA need to think seriously about negotiating a re-alignment of the A-League season, given the drop-off in attendances in 2009/10. An October start would avoid the white noise of the NRL and AFL finals, although the overlap with the state leagues would create other problems. But that's a different issue...

Comments:
I don't think the A-League season needs to be moved just to miss out on the finals of other codes. This league as it grows bigger will always clash with the AFL and NRL and for the A-League to stand on its own two feet it just keep avoiding the other codes. Also I quite like the tie-in between the start of the A-League and the EPL, with both of them starting in August.
 
The early start was a disaster that the game didn't recover from. To start early again next year 'to cash in on the World Cup' demonstrates how little the FFA understands the entertainment business in Australia.

PV has done his bit to damage the A-League.

But so has Fox Sports. Soccer, basketball and rugby union have all met the same fate - popular sports when Fox got their monopoly and then falling interest. And in their first profitable year, they care little. Andy Harper even denied that the schedule was developed to suit Fox.

The really worrying issue is that SBS won the guaranteed free to air World Cup finals. SBS have told the ABC that they cannot have the radio rights as this will only be on SBS radio (heard of that before?). ABC radio has national coverage and the biggest listener base in radio.

So where were the free to air bidders? Very bad sign for the A-League. 3 poor Cup games and the A-League may have not oxygen by the start of next year. And Pim will be off.
 
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