Friday, July 30, 2010

A League Season Six Preview

The A League Series Six begins this Thursday and for the first time since the A League began I have low expectations for this year. No I’m not playing that game were you lower your expectations, were by magic appears and all your expectations are surpassed due to you lowering them. I’m no fool; I always lose at the psychological games I play with myself anyway. Like George Bush almost said: “ Fool me — you can't get fooled again.”

So why the long face you ask? Just like your favourite TV show that has been going for five seasons and about to start it’s sixth I reckon the A League has lost its narrative. Or the narrative is just not that exciting anymore. For example Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory two of the biggest teams have no Marquee player.

Actually only one club has signed a Marque player this season and that is Perth Glory, who have taken ex Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler off broke North Queensland Fury’s hands. While I am not totally enamoured with his royal divineness plodding along at least the Glory are making some attempt to bring in the crowds. They have even made an advertisement featuring a tough looking Fowler with arms crossed looking into the camera and saying: I’m Robbie Fowler and I’ve joined Perth Glory ‘ave you?

The FFA has implemented a new structure this year that almost all clubs have ignored. The new initiative will enable clubs to have an International Marquee, an Australian Marque and an Under 23 Australian Marquee to be able to be paid outside of the salary cap. I was listening to the 442 Insider podcast last night and they went through all the clubs to see who has taken advantage of these new innovations. As I mentioned before only one club has an International Marquee.
Here is a rundown of clubs and their Marquee choices:

No Marquee’s

No Marquee’s

Oliver Bozanic (Under 23 Australian Marquee)

Jason Culina (Australian Marquee)
Tahj Minniecon (Under 23 Australian Marquee)

Josip Skoko (Australian Marquee)

Archie Thomson (Australian Marquee)

Adam Dapuzzo (Under 23 Australian Marquee)

No Marquee’s

Mile Sterjovski (Australian Marquee)
Robbie Fowler (International Marquee)
Tando Velaphi (Under 23 Australian Marquee)

Nick Carle (Australian Marquee)
Terry Antonis (Under 23 Australian Marquee)

No Marquee’s

So that makes for some rather bland reading. One of the main points of the 442 podcast discussion was that the A League should adopt a similar system like the one that is operating in Major League Soccer in the USA. Where the player’s contracts are owned by the administration of the league and they have a draft system. 442’s argument was it would give the A League some razzle dazzle during the offseason and the league would then spend the money on marquee players something which as you can see the clubs are not doing.

While I don’t agree with the draft system I do like the idea of Marquee players coming into the A League. Sure the clubs may whinge and whine that they don’t have the money. That they are losing money every year and it’s a risk spending a million bucks plus on a players that could be injured or does not perform. But these are all too familiar excuses, sure you don’t want clubs to live outside their means but this is football we are talking about here. Most clubs live in a creative accounting fantasy land anyway. It’s time the A League clubs went even more in the red I say! The clubs are too conservative in my opinion. Recently former Barcelona and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry went to New York Red Bull. The A League should have been going after these type of players. Imagine Henry running around in the Gold Coast United colours during season six? At least 60000 fans would have turned up.

Football’s main narratives are the exciting players that lift fans off their seats when they have the ball. The first season of the A League the ads were all about the players. In season six the ads have been about fans who steal bed sheets from suburban clothes lines so they can make banners. My head shakes every time I see that ad. It’s trying to be too clever if you ask me. And the delicious irony of that ad was the FFA proposing to ban large banners due to fans letting off flares underneath them. I took a break from pontificating and I did some actual journalism work. I asked the FFA a question in regards to their controversial stance on fan made tifo. To my surprise Rod Allen from the FFA replied in the next two days:

Afootballstory: Can you confirm that large pullover banners that you have included in your recent A League advertisement will be banned from high risk games including the Grand final re-match?

FFA: Con, Thanks for the inquiry. Large pullover banners will remain part of the Hyundai A-League.
As with all large fan based initiatives they are the result of cooperation between the fan groups, the club and security professionals.

Each request is treated individually and is judged on a range of security criteria and the track records of the fan groups involved.

Obviously large banners can hide fans from CCT cameras and there have been instances of flares being lit and other anti-social behaviour.

Flares can set banners alight and cause extreme danger to fans.

However, such requests are regularly approved like the farewell banner for Steve Corica at a Sydney game last year as used in the advertisement.

I can confirm that there are requests for pullover banners before clubs as we speak and some are likely to be approved.
Cheers, Rod.

Take from that what you will but the whole episode is highly amusing. Anyway now that I have lowered your expectations and shat on the A League below (to quote a famous football chant). I will still be watching every game, perusing websites for news and information and taking my usual position at the stadium. Standing proud while yelling insults and all manner of profanities and take part in my all time favourite things to do at a football match: instructing professional athletes on how to do their job.

A League season six, your audience waits and shoot farken!

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