Monday, August 02, 2010
The promotion for the tourney was simply invisible. Several acquaintances of mine whom I would consider dedicated football fans, the sort who would pay good money to see even a pre-season tournament as long as it featured teams of reasonable quality (which it did), hadn't heard of the Sydney Festival of Football until about a week prior to the kickoff. Family people need a bit more notice than that.
Yes, the mainstream media is clearly taking an extended break from the game following the World Cup, with the NRL and AFL seasons reaching their respective climaxes. But was there really no way to make the public more aware of the first Euro-dominated pre-season tournament to be held on Australian shores for a very long time?
It is, unfortunately, the same story with the 2010/11 A-League. Yes, would you believe, it is starting in three days, and yet the publicity for the sixth instalment has been quite minimal. The FFA has been distracted by the World Cup and Asian Cup bids, the search for a new Socceroo manager (which has been predictably put on hold), and the continuing battle with the Fairfax media to limit the revelations about the activities of Messrs. Hargitay and Radmann, two gentlemen whose involvement with the World Cup bid constitutes, in my view, a serious error of judgement on the FFA's part.
Essentially, my feelings are the same as they were at the same juncture last year. The hosting of the Asian Cup, the possibility of landing the biggest fish of all in 2022, all of these are exciting ventures, but the health of the Australian game ultimately depends on that of the domestic league, and it has been short-changed again in the marketing department.
Of course, it still has its champions, one of whom protests too much. Seizing on a quote from a diplomatic visiting manager as evidence of improving standards shows either naivety or disingenuousness, and there is a revealing caveat later in the article:
Strangely enough, Australian players seem the hardest to convince.
Now I wonder why that could be.
Mike Cockerill's Fairfax colleague, Sebastian Hassett, relayed to the SFS press box some snippets from his interview with Nathan Burns during AEK Athens' visit down under. Believe me, they did not reflect well on the quality of coaching in the A-League compared with that overseas, even in the Greek second division. And please note, once again: that is the A-League, not Australian football in general.
The Everton match also played a part i think. $50 for that, plus the cost of the 3 FOF matches and you're looking at serious money for meaningless games, especially for families.
And finally, apart from Rangers the teams themselves don't seem all that well supported in this country. There were no 'star' players to attract people like Cahill in the Everton match. So honestly the crowds were on par with what i expected, maybe a bit disappointing for the sydney rangers game but we all know sydney folk don't turn out when it rains.
In closing, Micallef is a whinger with no sense of reality.
Further to this, many proper football fans, or at least people who would go, I spoke to about this had no idea this was on.
In regards to the tournament I thought AEK Athens were fantastic and they have lifted my view of the Greek league immensely.
In regards to A-League coaching, I still believe for the development of the league and Australian coaches that "marquee" coaches are more important than marquee players. Hopefully the larger splattering of foreign coaches will mean a push towards some better football this year. I truly hope the negative tactics of some "local" coaches do not win out over them.
A lot of players are getting a break via the A-League and they should be acknowledging that.
As far as the FFA people being business people, it is not my experience.
Anyone notice that CCM has dropped its womens' team?