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2022. It is a year that can cap off the beginning of an era for Australian Football. But it can also spell the end to football as we currently know it.
The FIFA World Cup, should we be granted the hosting rights, is a double edged sword. It is all dependant on how the FFA conducts changes and the forward advances to decide the sport’s fate.
This whole idea got me thinking.
With the advent of the FFA Cup, I couldn’t honestly say I trusted the FFA to get it correct. So how about we let the fans and the community put forward ideas on how we see the sport in the country by 2022.
The Roar of the Crowd.
Below is my opinion on the organisation of the sport by 2022 (with help from Chris Tanner). To agree, disagree, or put forward ideas, comment below, and in a week I will compile the most requested ideas in “The Roar’s Master Plan for 2022”.
We now have to ask the question of how many clubs will be in the A-League competition in the year 2022. There are many different variables to put into account; however the idea of 20 teams is one that seems quite well rounded.
The main logic behind the placement of these 20 clubs is a tricky challenge. The introduction of teams and the placement are all major factors in the successful implementation of a sporting club in the competitive Australian sport landscape.
Sydney will ideally have three teams in the competition. These will be spread out amongst the city to cover the major demographics. Sydney FC of course maintains the inner city and eastern suburbs. A team covering the Western Sydney demographic, much like the Sydney Rovers bid is attempting, however basing it even more as a Western Sydney team, playing ideally out of Parramatta Stadium and not Homebush.
The third team will be ideally located in the South of Sydney, basing itself out of the Sutherland area (Toyota Park), aiming at the southern demographic to as far as the south city.
Melbourne will preferably be graced with three clubs, the two current clubs, Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart in their current positions, and another club possibly aimed more at the other reaches of Melbourne. Some ideas have even suggested Ballarat as a possible base for the club, aiming at the large district/region around it.
Adelaide’s strong support for the Reds has made it easily viable to base two clubs out of the city. Another club to be located out of the outer reaches of the city, although another idea could be basing the club in the same demographic as Adelaide United, forming a type of Inter Milan/AC Milan style rivalry. Both will ideally play in the same football stadium which will be constructed for the 2022 World Cup.
Even the idea of ascension of the Adelaide City club will be an idea for the local rivalry.
Perth is also a potential spot for two clubs, with the original Perth Glory and another club once again possibly forming the same rivalry as Adelaide. The club could also possibly be located more to the east forming the ‘barrier’ rivalry so-to-speak, or basing the club as far north as Fremantle, which ash once been noted as a possible area to base a football club.
Brisbane is an area that also warrants two football clubs, with the original Brisbane Roar, and another one possibly located on the north side districts of the city, or possibly to the west. The key demographic is appealing to the local football fans that support the local league sides, and those who may be keen on other codes of football.
Providing the marketing is done correctly, it can survive as football is in a summer time slot professionally.
North Queensland is another area that is good for a football side. The current North Queensland Fury is the club that will be located up in the far north, and should be kept in strong hands.
The key with the northern-most club is attempting to appeal to supporters in the rugby league heartland, and provide interesting and strong football to bring in the crowds. Appealing to the youth of the local community is also imperative to secure a fan base in the future.
Similarly to North Queensland, the Gold Coast is another area that warrants an A-League club, and similar strategies should be implemented by the Gold Coast United club as the ones in North Queensland.
This is because both areas are based in arguably rugby league heartlands, and the key is to embrace the youth, and secure a future fan base for the club.
Newcastle is an area steeped in football history, dating back to the strong migrant influence during its strong migrant days. The area has yet to connect with the local Jets; however a key is definitely strong marketing techniques. Nathan Tinkler has definitely taken the bullet, providing marketing strategies and ideas to help connect with the local footballing market.
Central Coast is another team that is strong in the A-League and will be as strong in 2022. Connecting with the local community is something that the Central Coast Mariners have done well compared to all the clubs at the present time.
Their fan base even stretches down to the North West of Sydney, which shows their connection with the local youth sides, examples being their connection with Gladesville-Hornsby Spirit FC (Former Northern Spirit).
New Zealand is an area that can support two clubs. There has been much debate onto whether the cross Tasman nation should be included in our national competitions; however the answer is definitely a yes. They provide a potentially different kind of football, and as close yet rival nations, we should embrace the nation in football growth.
Teams can be based out of Wellington (Phoenix) and Auckland.
Canberra is an area that has yearned for a Football side almost since the beginning of the competition, and by 2022, Canberra will be an area that is almost a no-brainer for a football club. Its ‘Capital Punishment’ group has garnered the support of the local community, state support and that of several local celebrities.
Finally, the Wollongong area is an area with strong footballing ties, with the successful Wollongong Wolves. Many of our current and former Socceroos were born and bred in the Illawarra area, and the club is one that is deserving of a football club.
The fan base is already there, the FFA just needs to implement the correct strategies to connect with the local community.
The key with all these clubs is marketing strategies. Without correct marketing or connecting with the community, the A-League will isolate itself from potential supporters. Connecting with the youth, offering promotions, ticket offers, and advertisements are all imperative in the success of the Hyundai A-League in 2022.
An FA Cup style competition will be in full effect by 2022, with all state level sides and some from New Zealand.
They will face opponents in the local regions first, before the next ‘tier’ of the competition, where the A-League teams will enter.
The idea of 20 teams can also be expanded into two divisions of 10; however with the idea of teams shutting down upon relegation, a conference style division of clubs could be devised, similar to that of the MLS back in 2004, where it was implemented with relative success.
Clubs should have their own strip sponsor, control over advertisements, and the growth of club identity, to help with the community connection and legacy growth. The club model will be taken on a team by team basis, and will be based around the community in which the club is being planted.
An Independent authority should be in control of the A-League, and not directly the FFA. The authority will be in control of all except major league decisions, and finances, which are to be controlled by the FFA.
There is no salary cap, with club wage budgets accompanied by a bank guarantee, with the FFA to pay player wages and invoice the clubs. Clubs that get behind in payments to the FFA receive no competition points until the bills are under control.
This, however, shouldn’t happen due to the bank guarantee.
The A-League in 2022 we would all hope to be a competition that will be on par with the majority of leagues in Asia, let alone others such as the MLS. It will be strengthen with the legacy of the World Cup in 2022.
The above is the opinion of me, Michael Turner, with ideas presented by Player-Agent Chris Tanner.
These are by no means perfect, and I now ask those of you who took the time to read this article to present your ideal A-League for 2022 in the comments section below, or even just simple ideas that nobody has mentioned before.
In a couple of weeks, I will compile the best of these ideas into The Roar’s A-League.
Please feel free to contribute.