Has the FFA finally turned the corner?
Football Federation Australia coped a fair bit a while back – and many argued that it was deserved. The A-League was in free fall. Frank Lowy’s role was being questioned, with some suggesting football would be better off without him.
Ben Buckley was seen as the worst sports administrators in Australia’s history.
A-League season six saw crowds drop for the third year. Lyall Gorman was drafted from the Mariners to head the A-League for season seven. Gorman set about holding fans forums after which he made changes to the A-League.
The biggest change was developing a new season start and draw. It’s history now that crowds in A-League season seven increased by a third and TV rating increased by 42 percent. Was it Harry and Emmo returning, FFA’s new management, or a combination of both?
FFA failed badly under Buckley with North Queensland Fury. This failure was added to by Clive Palmer’s Gold Coast in and out until Frank Lowy stepped in and said Clive is out.
The Newcastle Jets left and came back under the ownership of Nathan Tinkler, Perth Glory came close to leaving as Tony Sage’s nerves were broken by taunting fans, and even the Central Coast Mariners were battling close to the win.
Exacerbating the issues in the A-League were national teams failing to qualify for major tournaments.
The FFA started a team in Western Sydney to replace the loss of Gold Coast United. Gorman was again drafted into the head role.
Gorman held fans forums and the ‘Wanderers’ name were created out of the forums. Most believe the Western Sydney Wanderers are now going well and ticking most boxes as the FFA learn from previous mistakes. Some even suggest the old NSL folk are getting behind the Wanderers as the engagement activities from the FFA start to work.
A national talent identification program has been established. The top players have been identified and coached. New coaching standards have been established.
In 2015, the Asia Cup will be played in Australia and to date the organisation of it appears to be well done. Recently Mike Cockerill wrote how FFA and Buckley were fighting for access to fields and stadiums. Mike’s article indicates FFA are supporting Sydney Olympic in their fight with the Canterbury Bulldogs over Belmore Oval. Is FFA fighting for the rights of a former NSL club a turning point?
Every football forum and every fan understands the importance of the next media deal, both for financial stability and to grow the game outside football’s few heartlands. Have FFA rebuilt the A-League to a high value sports for media outlets?
Have FFA clawed their way back into favour?