The A-League has really gone off the rails in the last two years. There are many causes for this, but the most central of all is the media.
The media’s perception that football is completely unimportant is a disgrace. You try telling that to the hundred’s of thousands of junior players and coaches in Australia. Football has always been the last highlights shown on the sport report on the news. It has always been on the innermost pages of the sport section. But why? Let’s look at The Australian, for example.
Every Saturday morning the previous evenings rugby league is the front page news. They even published the Roosters versus Titans game on the front page of the entire newspaper last Saturday.
Then you have to look forward four pages to find a postage stamp sized article about an A-League game the previous night. Pages two and three are comprised of AFL pre-game analysis and articles from the greatly disliked Patrick Smith, who was found to be hated by more than 80 per cent of AFL fans on a recent radio poll. How is pre-game analysis more important than an actual event?
A similar train of thought exists for the Socceroos.
The day that new coach Holger Osieck named his first ever squad there wasn’t even an article. The front page had Collingwood players at the beach and the next pages were AFL and NRL pre-game hype.
The odd golf tennis and motorsport article filled the rest of the space. I did find the squad eventually, under the ‘Soccer’ section of the results column. What a joke! Can you imagine if the same had have been done to Robbie Dean’s Wallabies squad?
The great problem for the A-League recently has been publicity. The FFA has very poorly chosen to scrap their A-League advertising campaign, resulting in virtually nobody knowing anything about the games, which has partly led to poor crowds. Well hasn’t that caused a fuss.
The only football writer in The Australian, Ray Gatt, has been nothing short of pathetic recently. Every single article he has written has been about the crowds and the financial issues with the A-League. If he wants to reduce the size of the problem he should write something positive about the league. The standard has increased greatly this year, so has the quality of goals, the quality of imports, and coaching. But has Gatt written about this at all? No.
This focus on the negatives is widespread across all media.
Do you remember how the media was all over the quote from Verbeek that the A-League is low standard? Where are the media now that Les Murray, Holger Osieck and Craig Foster have all praised the quality of the league? No where to be seen. They choose only to report the negatives about football.
The media has had a very large role in the recent struggles of the A-League.
Hopefully a successful Word Cup bid may silence them.