Extend the A-League season, alleviate boredom

by Neil Sherwin

Does the Hyundai A-League have the longest, most boring offseason in world football? It certainly can’t be far off.

The 2011/12 Grand Final took place on April 22 and, with the competition’s eighth season not getting underway until October 5, we’ll have had just under six months without competitive action.

Brisbane Roar’s last gasp, and controversial, win over Perth Glory in that aforementioned showpiece got the juices flowing amongst more than just the fans of those clubs. Like the final before it, another cracker between the Roar and Central Coast Mariners, the nation stood up and took note of football. It was on the front and back pages of newspapers across the country and the subject of many discussions over a pint or at the work water cooler.

Sadly though, most of that positivity and momentum disappears when you have a gap of a whopping 165 days between fixtures. With other codes playing during that period, casual supporters are easily distracted and in many cases go back to square one in terms of interest and passion for the A-League.

Without meaning to be condescending towards state league clubs, Melbourne Victory against Oakleigh Cannons or Brisbane Roar taking on Brisbane Olympic isn’t the most exciting of prospects, yet fans do their best to get up for these games because for a long time it’s the only football fix they get.

Even the ‘glamour’ friendlies have dried up this year, with no Premier League clubs or even a Celtic or LA Galaxy type outfit coming to Australia for a kick about.

So what’s the solution?

Well there have been a number of ideas put forward, including a preseason competition similar to the NAB Cup in AFL. Another option is an FFA Cup which would take place throughout the regular season and include state league teams from across the country.

However, the simplest and easiest solution as far as I’m concerned is to add another round of games; have each team play each other four times as opposed to the current three.

Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns last week publicly expressed his desire for the league to expand its calendar, and believes players benefit far more from competitive hit outs than countless friendlies.

“A 27-round season plus finals football is not long enough. If we want to improve our football we have to extend it,” he said.

“We currently have 20 weeks of pre-season and by the end of that we’re absolutely dying to play games for actual points.”

He’s spot on, and our young players would benefit from playing a similar amount of games to the leagues which they aspire to eventually play in.

Off the pitch, things have gotten so mundane that the biggest story doing the rounds right now is of a hoax triallist who made a mug out of Adelaide United.

Captivating stuff it certainly isn’t.

This article first appeared on The Football Sack, the number one site for news and views on football Down Under.

Author Info

Neil Sherwin

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com and BackPageRugby.com. Writes mostly on Premier League, A-League and MLS with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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