Optimistic outlook at A-League season launch

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    A-League season launch

    A-League season launch (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    The much-anticipated buildup to the seventh season of the A-League culminated this morning at the season launch, and the message was literally spelt out by fans, players and coaches: ‘We Are Football.’

    The FFA’s ‘We Are Football’ campaign has steadily gained momentum over recent weeks and with the AFL and NRL seasons concluding over the weekend, the timing for the season launch couldn’t have been better.

    With an obvious intention to reconnect with football’s grassroots community, the FFA invited fans to the Sydney Football Stadium this morning to interact with players and coaches, and spread the message prior to the competition’s kick-off on Saturday afternoon.

    The signings of Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton have already boosted the prospects of a league crying out for a boost, and CEO Ben Buckley was bullish about the season ahead.

    “It is fair to say that this is the most anticipated start to the season since the buzz of the inaugural season back in 2005,” he said.

    “The homecoming of Socceroos stars Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton has proved what we’ve always said – that the A-League is fast emerging as one of Australia’s top competitions.”

    Gold Coast boss Miron Bleiberg, the only surviving coach from the inaugural season, was also optimistic about what lay ahead, comparing the buzz to the hype that surrounded the A-League during its inception in 2005.

    “The anticipation for this season is very similar to the first year, no one knows,” he said.

    “Preparation and team recruitment is a bit of a mystery.

    “If you add the effect of marketing, with Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell, it looks even better than the first year.”

    Criticisms have been levelled at the FFA in recent years of failing to properly address the needs of the A-League while preparing Australia’s 2022 World Cup bid, and the fan focus at the launch was evident.

    While the ‘We Are Football’ campaign has been reminiscent of the initial A-League marketing campaigns that worked successfully, it will be the quality of the on-field product that ultimately decides the fate of the competition.

    For 22-year-old Sydney FC fan Tom Jensen, the ability of Sydney FC coach Vitezlav Lavicka to get his team playing attractive football was the biggest hope for the upcoming season.

    “We need to get the swagger back to bring our fans back, and hopefully ‘Emmo’ will help us do that,” he said.

    “If this season is to be successful, the A-League needs us to be doing well.”

    The FFA has carefully laid the foundations for the reinvigoration of the A-League, and it is a test for the game to see how well it performs in terms of support and quality of football on offer.

    It starts this weekend with the Newcastle Jets at 4:30pm (ADST) on Saturday, and the big clash between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC at 6:30pm (ADST).