The A-League home and away season is about to come to an exciting close, with the final two rounds to determine the winner of the minor premiership and the finalists.
The frontrunners, Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners, are stumbling and distracted by their Asian Champions League commitments.
Their challengers for the championship might be flattering to deceive or could very well turn out to be the real deal. We have come so far this season, but you might as well put a line through the 25 matches that have been played by each side this season.
Seven A-League teams are now five or six matches away from glory.
Yes, it does sound improbable, but as I am typing this there are Sydney FC fans still harboring dreams of captain Terry McFlynn lifting the golden toilet seat in April.
“The good thing is we are only a point behind fifth and sixth so our destiny is in our own hands,” McFlynn said on Monday. “I’ve said all along if we simply concentrate on our own performances and keep the belief, it would eventually work out. The spirit in the club is fantastic.”
A few hours later as the smoke cleared in a Newtown lounge room, the Sky Blues fans snapped out of their reverie and came to the conclusion it was just a pleasant football pipe dream.
However, football pipe dreams are not the humble preserve of the A-League fan.
Yesterday, Clive Palmer and Frank Lowy looked as if they had walked the off the set of Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke.”
Self-appointed savior of football and failed A-League license holder Palmer announced that his hobby horse Football Australia will hold a national public commission of inquiry to help improve the game.
His bottomless pockets will be funding a national caravan of football complaints led by Gary Collis, the former president of Football Federation South Australia.
“If people don’t take him credibly then it’s a reflection on them. He’s never worked for me and I’ve never met him prior to this announcement today.” Palmer said at the presser.
“We are not seeking to influence the findings, but we are prepared to put a submission in.”
Football Australia CEO Archie Fraser elaborated, claiming to have received hundreds of emails from people disenchanted with the way football is run, with the biggest concerns being the exorbitant fees for junior players, Australia’s failure to qualify for the Olympics and the lack of progress in women’s football.
But he didn’t stop there.
“They’re reasonable questions. They wouldn’t be reasonable questions if we had qualified for the Olympics, had an A-League with 12 or 14 teams and a second division with promotion and relegation, we had an FA Cup and we had a great TV deal,” Fraser said.
Of course, he did forget to mention that he had also been thwarted from becoming the world’s greatest football administrator. But when the smoke did clear he did remember to add, “And we’ve got a nine-team A-League next year.”
Not if Frank Lowy has his way.
He expounded on this matter last night with Fox Sports football expert Mark Bosnich.
“Without being too definite, I think I can tell you that we actually have three opportunities now,” Lowy said. “Discussions with the new Gold Coast people, Canberra is still interested, and there’s a real opportunity in the western suburbs (of Sydney).”
“Our objective is to have a 10-team competition. If for some reason we don’t succeed this year, we will have a 10-team competition next year.”
This must be news to Canberra’s A-League bid leader Ivan Slavich, who only two weeks ago had seemingly given up on getting a license.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Slavich said. “It is frustrating because we do have money behind it and a lot of capability and it seems western Sydney doesn’t have any capability, yet the FFA is prepared to completely fund it.”
“The FFA’s thumbing their nose to the actual football supporters in Canberra – that’s the disappointing thing. We’d have to have a much stronger commitment from the FFA that they would include us, rather than wasting our time.”
“If it’s just a roll of the dice and see what happens – which is the way it’s operated to date – I doubt I’d do it.”
I wonder if Ivan Slavich will be waiting for the smoke to clear at FFA HQ.
Athas Zafiris is on Twitter @ArtSapphire