A-League’s plight cannot be ignored on grand final day

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    Brisbane player Kosta Barbarouses

    Brisbane player Kosta Barbarouses reacts after scoring a second half goal. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    Today is rightfully a day of great celebration for the A-League, with the two best teams in the competition this season, Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners, fighting for the right to be crowned champions.

    Those two teams, chiefly responsible for raising the technical standard of the league, have significantly raised the benchmark leaving the traditional powerhouses of Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United and Sydney FC in their wake.

    They will play in front of an expected sell out crowd of 52,000 in a stadium and in front of a community devastated by floods.

    Like all grand final days, it will be a grand celebration of the league and code.

    But don’t fall into the trap of viewing today’s proceedings as a total vindication of the A-League.

    It’s too easy to do so and is too short-sighted.

    Many will point to the 52,000 in Brisbane, a city which has had a mixed relationship with its A-League club, as proof that the league is making inroads on the Australian psyche.

    It’s proved grand final tickets weren’t too expensive, and the Roar can take on and match the high level of crowd and traction set by the NRL’s Brisbane Broncos, they say.

    But those same people seemingly overlook the crowd of 7539 for the preliminary final the week before; they will ignore the fact the Roar will be handed back into the hands of the governing body come Monday morning; and they will ignore the doom and gloom around the league.

    Such is the power of a grand final.

    Brisbane Roar has come to typify the fortunes of the A-League this season.

    The on the field product is the greatest we have ever seen in the domestic game (certainly in the A-League), raising the standard with quality imports, impressive locals who, as demonstrated by captain Matt McKay, can stand side-by-side with Australia’s best football exports within the Socceroos, and a domestic coach shining and producing brilliant football.

    But the on field product, no matter how improved, cannot mend the off-field dilemmas, as Brisbane has shown.

    If a club on a record unbeaten run, playing the most attractive football we’ve seen, cannot find the necessary funding and owners to support itself and avoid going into the hands of the governing body, then the issues facing the game are very real.

    Clubs remains at the whim of millionare owners, who are either losing too much money and could potential leave their clubs rudderless if they pull out, or won’t be interested in investing the A-League until it is in a better economic state.

    Don’t fall into the trap of seeing the grand final as an accurate picture of the game’s position.

    Remember the cautionary tale of the Brisbane Strikers in the NSL, who attracted a sell out crowd of over 40,000 to their winning grand final in 1997 only to see their crowds plunge to 3000 the following season.

    Even the great Brisbane Roar team could suffer the same fate if the off field situation doesn’t resolve itself quickly.

    Enjoy the grand final as a great occasion and celebration of the A-League and the great football being played, but don’t be ignorant of the off the field plight.

    Follow Adrian on twitter @AdrianMusolino

    Adrian Musolino
    Adrian Musolino

    Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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    The Crowd Says (65)

    • March 13th 2011 @ 8:23am
      agga78 said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Another doom and gloom article Adrian, do you ever write anything positive about football, FFS it is grand final day, can’t you just enjoy the day and you can talk about the problems another day, I don’t think anyone in football under estimates the huge challanges ahead for football, poor crowds, poor stadium deals, pay tv coverage only, Ben Buckley’s determination to destroy football, but lets just enjoy the day and watch Suncorp rock like it’s never rocked before.

      • March 13th 2011 @ 8:33am
        whiskeymac said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        agreed. no one here is naive of the issues, so why not celebrate the occasion before returning to the issues at hand? it’s akin to mentioning the cost of the christmas dinner.

      • March 13th 2011 @ 4:30pm
        Fez's are cool said | March 13th 2011 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

        Have you never watched a Broncos home game, a Brisbane Bledisloe Cup match or a State of Origin match?

        Suncorp goes off many times a year.

    • Roar Guru

      March 13th 2011 @ 8:30am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      What a disappointing article to have to read on the day of the A-League GF.

      What’s the point of this article? Has the author revealed any anything new? Has he provided any deep analysis or insights?

      I guess, some sports writers are incapable of actually analysing a football match and, therefore, have to repeat the same old “crowds are down and clubs are in financial crisis” rubbish ad nauseum.

      Adrian, have you ever written a positive article about Football … I’ve checked your archive and cannot find one.

      Why do you pretend football is one of your “favourite sports”? What does that mean … you watched Johnny score the penalty in Nov-2005 and watch weekly EPL highlights on FoxSports?

      For me, Grand Final day has started well … watched Bayern smash 6 past Hamburg on OneHD; then caught a few hours sleep before watching my Man United lads accelerate the usual “March-implosion of Arsenal” and only 8.5 hours to kick-off at Lang Park.

      • March 13th 2011 @ 8:35am
        whiskeymac said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:35am | ! Report

        anyone who supports bayern and man utd is not to be trusted 😉

        • Roar Guru

          March 13th 2011 @ 8:39am
          Fussball ist unser leben said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:39am | ! Report

          I don’t actually support Bayern … but the football they played this morning was simply delightful – they looked like scoring every time they ventured into Hamburg’s half.

          I guess, after the joy I experienced at the Fritz-Walter Stadion in June 2006, the Bundesliga team closest to my heart has to be …

          … 1. FC Kaiserslautern!

        • March 13th 2011 @ 11:06am
          Evan Askew said | March 13th 2011 @ 11:06am | ! Report

          Bayern Munich during the Nazi era refused to dismiss their Jewish members from their club when ordered to do so by the Nazi’s. I don’t like G14 clubs either but Bayer, Ajax and Barcelona all have records of opposition to facsism too be proud of.

      • March 13th 2011 @ 11:08am
        Evan Askew said | March 13th 2011 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        He does write for 442 now and I am sure that esteemed publication wouldn’t be hiring Rebecca Wilson or Phil ROthfield. Ha, I can just imagine it, Rebecca Wilson working at the WOrld game. I smell a low budget comedy?

      • March 13th 2011 @ 11:15am
        Marsh said | March 13th 2011 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        Fussball it’s not a journos job to cheerlead and write from a fans perspective.

        • March 13th 2011 @ 2:44pm
          nordster said | March 13th 2011 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

          but when the analysis is shallow and repetitive, they may as well not bother. Totally agree with Fuss’ point tho … “football” writers who can’t analyse the actual game well enough, so use these sorts of articles as a crux.

    • March 13th 2011 @ 8:34am
      Tifosi said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      I’ve been in Brisbane the last two days and you wouldn’t even know the final is on today.

      Also the standard isnt that greatly improved. Gamba Osaka thrashing of Melbourne victory shows just where the standard is.

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      • March 13th 2011 @ 8:36am
        whiskeymac said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        the standard of the top 4 teams is improved. MV and SFC are not in that category.

        • Roar Guru

          March 13th 2011 @ 8:54am
          MyLeftFoot said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          Let us look at the top 4 teams.

          GCU: I’d say they are around a similar level to last season, recalling they had brilliant moments interspersed with stretches when they were in the doldrums.

          AU: big improvement over last season, for first third of the season, looked like a real challenger to the Roar

          CCM: addition of Perez certainly gave CCM a different look about it, have steadily improved over the course of the season, there’s a lot about them that remains pretty much the same, but yes, you’d say an improvement overall

          Roar: well, when a team goes undefeated for 27 games, that sort of record speaks for itself, undoubtedly played the best soccer in the history of the A-League.

          • March 13th 2011 @ 9:03am
            whiskeymac said | March 13th 2011 @ 9:03am | ! Report

            when perez wasnt injured that is. amini ,rose, bozanic and the others have provided a lot to the success. the team success, only overshadowed by the roar, is without one player being the catalyst.

            • Roar Guru

              March 13th 2011 @ 9:06am
              MyLeftFoot said | March 13th 2011 @ 9:06am | ! Report

              Amini is still starting out.

              One could argue that Rose has taken over from where Heff was when he was at his peak.

              The bookends have been the same for a while, and much of the midfield grunt has relied on the same personnel for a while.

              • March 13th 2011 @ 2:08pm
                whiskeymac said | March 13th 2011 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

                dont necessarily agree – altho i think the roster has been stable there are new faces in a lot of positions (simon and wilkinson and bojic aside) but the big change was in the dug out.

          • March 13th 2011 @ 2:50pm
            Twatter said | March 13th 2011 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

            That out of this season we’ve had three teams that were at the bottom of the league ladder last year finish in the top three this year.
            I would suggest globally unique to any sporting competition – League ,if thats not an up for their supporters than what is.
            I no every year that Man Utd, Real Madrid and Barcelona are either going to finish second or first and for that we blindly look the other way or applaud, infact the other clubs in La Liga are questioning their validity in the comp and why their playing in a comp they cant win it’s either Barca’s or Real’s every year.
            Perhaps sometimes we can look externally to find positives internally.

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2011 @ 8:44am
        Fussball ist unser leben said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:44am | ! Report


        I’m intrigued to know which A-League team you watch regularly to make the assessment that the standard has not improved greatly?

        Everyone I know, who has actually been attending A-League matches regularly for 6 seasons, agrees the standard in Year 6 far exceeds the standard in prior years.

        And, ex-professional footballers – Zelic, Okon, Kalac, Bosnich, etc. et.c – have formed the same view that the standard has improved greatly. But, what would they know .. they only played football at the highest level and the best clubs in the world!!

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2011 @ 9:38am
        Australian Football said | March 13th 2011 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        Tifosi—-I think the standard will be shown for what it is today—-as brilliant. Don’t be fooled by the Melb Victory’s crushing defeat at the hands of Gamba. The Victory club is finally out of the hands of AFL mentality—of thinking that the only thing that matters in Australian Football is Grand Final day. Now with Melb Vic’s new Chairman who is a real Football Person and a pending manager like Postecoglou (a serious ACL advocate with ambition)—the ACL performances will be vastly improved and won’t be treated as HAL end of season holidays.

        • March 13th 2011 @ 10:25am
          James said | March 13th 2011 @ 10:25am | ! Report

          Pretty sure Adelaide Utd have never treated the ACL as a holiday, twice through to second round and one final. Shame MV have been so bad…

          • Roar Guru

            March 13th 2011 @ 10:55am
            Australian Football said | March 13th 2011 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            James—spot on; AU have been the bench mark. The out burst from Kevin Muscat’s comment in their previous campaign, still rings in my ears, when he said he hates playing in the ACL; no one in Melbourne cares about it. I’m sure he is totally incorrect about that assumption. I think they do care, and it was the old chairman Lord AFL background regime that didn’t care—now a broom has gone through the place and the new administration have real ambitions of doing well in ACL football—that is why the new Melb Victory Chairman is Hell bent on getting Ange back to Melbourne. I hope he succeeds, as he’ll do Australian Football proud in the ACL with the the resources the Melbourne Victory have at their disposal.

      • March 13th 2011 @ 12:47pm
        AL said | March 13th 2011 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

        Mate, the K & J leagues are wll established and survive on a budget that we can not dream of, have infurstructure and processes that are still being build in Oz. Yet we still punch above our weight Adelaide U made the final, Newcastle got out of there group & SFC always hold there own.
        And if the Roar ( a teams budget which is $2M overall) can keep the squad together they will give Asian teams (who survive on budget of $100M +) a good shake.

    • March 13th 2011 @ 8:56am
      steven Ellis said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Agree to all of the above…another football article where the ‘spi’n is always on the ‘sockahs glass half-empty’..

      Adrian…do you work for news-limited..?..or maybe you are Ray gatt ??

    • Roar Guru

      March 13th 2011 @ 8:58am
      MyLeftFoot said | March 13th 2011 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      On the whole, I would think A-League fans have a right to expect to wake up this morning and read about the impending grand final which is likely to be a great game and occasion.

      All the themes in this article have been absolutely done to death over the past month, even over the past year.

      One could counter Adrian’s caution by arguing that today could prove to be the catalyst for going on to bigger and better things.

      The Sun will rise tomorrow – at least one group of fans will have a massive headache, and it won’t come from having worried themselves sick about the future of the game.

      • March 13th 2011 @ 9:05am
        whiskeymac said | March 13th 2011 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        hahaha or have to hear about AFL too, maybe? =)

        wheres the promised live blog MLF?

        • Roar Guru

          March 13th 2011 @ 9:10am
          MyLeftFoot said | March 13th 2011 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          I am a man of my word, you will find the live blog here:


          I won’t use Tony Tannous’ new thread because it has been specifically earmarked as a post game discussion thread.

          I am yet to start the live blog – for obvious reasons.

          • Editor

            March 13th 2011 @ 1:51pm
            Tristan Rayner said | March 13th 2011 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

            You know MLF, if you ever read your emails, we could be in discussion and I could start you a Live Blog in the Roar of the Crowds.

            Let me know.

            Tristan (Ed.)

            • Roar Guru

              March 13th 2011 @ 2:33pm
              Australian Football said | March 13th 2011 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

              Tristan, Not On The Football Tab–it would be a slap in the face to Real Football Supporters. He was the leading Cheer Leader for the demise of the FFA’s Football World Cup Bid… Check the archives under Pippinu and Mr Football.. The other names he goes by.

            • Roar Guru

              March 13th 2011 @ 3:30pm
              Australian Football said | March 13th 2011 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

              As Punter has said—here’s another one of MLF alias names and his real beliefs… an anti-football commentator..


            • Roar Guru

              March 13th 2011 @ 3:56pm
              Fussball ist unser leben said | March 13th 2011 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

              Totally agree with AF & punter.

              MLF is one of many AFL fans, who is openly hostile towards football and football fans.

              Lads, I will be watching the game and won’t be on the PC but …

              … if ANY AFL fan were allowed to initiate a LIVE blog on the A-League GF, my suggestion would be simply don’t correspond and leave them to “play with themselves”, since this seems to be their forté …. metaphorically speaking, of course ! 😉

              • Roar Guru

                March 13th 2011 @ 4:13pm
                Australian Football said | March 13th 2011 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

                Fuss—-well said, I’m off to the Palm Beach Football club now. Hoping to get back in time for Tony’s analysis…. Cheers

          • March 13th 2011 @ 2:05pm
            whiskeymac said | March 13th 2011 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            good stuff. will read.

    • March 13th 2011 @ 9:21am
      Realfootball said | March 13th 2011 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      Like other posters on this thread, Adrian, I find this article disappointing and poorly timed. The issues have been aired ad nauseum. Why rehash it all again on Grand Final day? Frankly, it reads as though you are determined to take the glitter off the occasion, like the Grinch at Christmas.

      • Roar Pro

        March 13th 2011 @ 7:56pm
        Aidan said | March 13th 2011 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

        I agree the timing of this article was a deliberate grab to take away from the grand final. Not only that, it adds nothing to existing arguments on this topic. Very disappointed…… again.

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