FFA cup exposes deficiencies in A-League model

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This week we have witnessed two games in the FFA Cup round of 32 that both the Football Federation Australia have been itching for from a marketing point of view, and some within the football community will use as leverage in a long-running argument.

NPL Victoria’s Green Gully defeated A-League’s Central Coast Mariners 2-1 via a stunning long range 93rd minute goal while NPL Queensland’s Redlands United defeated current A-League champions Adelaide United 2-1 after extra time. These results have fueled the argument that has been playing out in the football community for decades, the concept of promotion and relegation for Australia.

Mike Cockerill posed a question to Andy Harper during Fox Sports’ excellent coverage of the Green Gully Central Coast Mariners tie. The question was along the lines, why haven’t Green Gully invested more in their ground, in terms of seating and grandstand facilities? To which Harper replied, that although he wasn’t sure there was a suggestion from the chatter around the club that Green Gully will only move on such investment when pushed.

Now we cannot be sure if Harper was suggesting, unwilling to be direct, why would Green Gully spend their extremely hard earned funds on increasing capacity when the carrot of someday playing regularly on the National stage is almost unreachable? Even if they did so, the current model wouldn’t allow them to use their home venue. They would have to move their home games to, presumably AAMI park, where their fans could fit into three bays (this is no disrespect to Green Gully whatsoever) rather than allow them to organically grow and continue to develop top players as they have done in their 60 year history.

This is not suggesting Green Gully should join the A-League, however, they and clubs like them across the country manage to administer generally between 80 to 150 teams from under 12 and up – across multiple local and state based competitions. They do this without TV money and manage to develop players and produce high quality, part-time footballers.

Imagine what they could do with increased sponsorship from exposure on a national stage and their share of TV money. As long as they don’t have to then waste it to meet unrequired criteria and their progression through the league structure is based on their performance on the pitch. Having said that, initially entering the national structure should be based on a club’s ability to meet the expectations required to compete at that level.

Our domestic top tier and second tier clubs have already shown that anyone can defeat any other on any given day, why should it matter if that occurs at a 5000 seated suburban venue or at a 1/3 filled 50,000 stadium?

Jason Ganter

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