A-League break likely for Asian Cup

By Sam Lienert,

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    Organisers of the 2015 Asian Cup want the A-League to take a break for the three weeks of what they say will be the biggest soccer event ever held in Australia.

    The draw for the event’s qualifying rounds was held in Melbourne on Tuesday night, but Australia are already through to the finals to be held in January 2015 due both to their host nation status and runners-up finish in 2011 in Qatar.

    Sydney will host the final, expected to be played on January 31, the same weekend as the Australian Open tennis finals in Melbourne, with Sydney to also host the two semi-finals.

    Melbourne will host the Asian Cup’s opening match, on the weekend of January 8, but missed out on the games at the business end of the tournament, partly to avoid clashing with the tennis grand slam event.

    The Asian Cup’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) say while it was a crowded period in the sport and event markets, the tournament wants to avoid clashing with their own sport.

    “The two potential solutions are that we continue the A-League in centres which are not hosting games or have a two or three-week mid-season break.” LOC deputy chief executive Shane Harmon said on Tuesday night.

    As well as Sydney and Melbourne, matches will be played at Canberra Stadium and in Brisbane, almost certainly at Suncorp Stadium.

    That leaves Perth, Adelaide, Wellington and Newcastle as potential A-League venues if the domestic competition continues.

    LOC chief executive Michael Brown said the event had the capacity to leave a lasting legacy for the sport in Australia and Football Federation Australia (FFA) needed to make the most of it.

    “This has got to be their marketing because this is the biggest football event that will be held in this country,” Brown said.

    “And arguably with 2.5 billion people (potentially) watching on television it will be the most televised event this country will have for a long time.”

    Japan, South Korea and North Korea are also already qualified for what will be a 16-nation event.

    There will be six group games and a quarter-final in each of the host cities.

    The Socceroos will play a group game in each of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and if they reach the last eight, their quarter-final is unlikely to be in Sydney, given that city is hosting the matches that follow.

    FFA chairman Frank Lowy said suspending the A-League would be considered.

    “We haven’t quite put our timetable on that yet but it may be possible to do that,” Lowy said.

    China face a tough qualifying path, drawn alongside Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, with the top two from each of five four-team groups to qualify, along with the best-performed third-placed team.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • October 10th 2012 @ 7:45am
      mwm said | October 10th 2012 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      Good idea. Two football competitions would cancel each other out in Australia.

      • October 10th 2012 @ 8:04am
        Kasey said | October 10th 2012 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        I’m already reading bleats on various FB pages from some who do not want the HAL to go on break while the Asian Cup takes place in 2015.
        I can’t for the life of me understand their complaints. Here we have a world class football event in our own country and time zone. I will be trying to watch as much of it as possible( I cant imagine I’ll be the only one) and certainly seeking to follow the Socceroos up and down the Eastern seaboard.
        I do not want to miss any Adelaide United games as a result. The last home United home game I missed I was in hospital for chemotherapy and oddly, the doctors and Nurses wouldn’t let me go to Hindmarsh(I had to beg to get to the pub across the road to catch it on Fox Sports!)
        In the dim dark ages, when a lot of football fans didn’t have local clubs they identified with (the NSL days). The Socceroos was it for us. That was why it was so painful when we inevitably fell at the final hurdle or why we took it so personally when Leeds gaffer David O’Leary did his best to prevent our star Harry from travelling home to boost our team.
        As the HAL continues to improve in quality and engages more and more football fans in this country (which will be helped immensely by the FTA component (SBS) in the new TV deal) these club v country debates will move from overseas to our own shores, by which stage the FFA had want to factor in FIFA dates to the HAL schedule. I’d be very critical of the FFA if they didn’t factr in a break for the 205 tournament. Splitting the football focus in two would not be wise.

        • October 10th 2012 @ 11:37am
          Q said | October 10th 2012 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          That’s passion dude, hope your doing well now.
          I agree, in the old NSL days I would say I followed Sth Melbourne, but it was a very casual observation with Europe teams, but mainly the socceroos claiming my focus.
          I really hope that tv deal gets done and watching last TWG effort, hopefully an A League highlight show because Monday night was lacking on so many fronts.
          I still remember the time when Sunday was when you sat down for half a day watching SBS, When after the news they would have that football show every day of the week. What we have now on FTA is crumbs, which is strange seeing that Australian football has never been as healthy.

    • October 10th 2012 @ 10:06am
      pete4 said | October 10th 2012 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      Absolutely agree the HAL should take a break while the Asian Cup is on. We can either start a month earlier or finish later that season to catch up if required

      The other option is to reduce the season from 27 rounds down to 24 that season if any issues with ground availability come up

      • October 10th 2012 @ 11:13am
        Q said | October 10th 2012 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        Please no reduction, it’s too short already.
        But I agree with you otherwise.

        • October 10th 2012 @ 1:36pm
          Kasey said | October 10th 2012 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

          ITotally agree Q…if anything they should revert back to the inaugural season starting dates of late August and then take a 1 month break during the 2015Cup, wrapping up at the current time of 2nd-3rd week of April.

          Sure we’ll take a bit of a hit during the egg ball finals and might run into some ground scheduling issues(unless Adelaide and Perth get the bulk of opening round games t home, but don’t forget we recorded our high water mark for attendances during the third season, which started in 3rd week of August 2007 and played through to end of January 2008. Jan is too early to end so a full season starting 3rd week of August 2014 and going through to April 2015 with a month off in Jan 2015 should accommodate a full season of HAL football.

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2012 @ 11:26am
      HardcorePrawn said | October 10th 2012 @ 11:26am | ! Report

      This is surely a no-brainer, I really can’t see why anyone would be upset by the postponement of the A-League to accommodate the Asian Cup.
      Postponing games to accommodate a different sport’s international event would upset some for sure, but the same sport, and an event of this importance? It’s got to be done.
      Having both competitions running at the same time would confuse any potential new viewers and fans, as well as spreading the crowd numbers too thinly. Would your local A-League club be happy to get a much-reduced crowd because a large portion of their fans might want to see a big AC game being played that same weekend elsewhere in their city? Probably not.

    • October 10th 2012 @ 12:26pm
      TC said | October 10th 2012 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

      This season the AFL increased the home and away season from 22 weeks to 23 weeks, retaining 22 rounds, by playing two rounds mid-season across three weekends (i.e. 18 games stretched across 3 weeks, with 6 games per weekend rather than 9).

      I believe the A-League could do something similar, spread two rounds over three weeks, i.e. 10 games played over three weekends, along the lines of 3 games – 4 games – 3 games, or something similar.

      I think there would be plenty of space to fit these games in and around the Asian Cup, there are plenty of cities and venues without games, fixture A-League games in these venues, especially during down periods during the Cup.

      Just for starters, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart, Newcastle, the Gong, Gosford, Geelong, Townsville, Gold Coast, could all be hosting A-League games during this time.

      A bit of creativity is all that is needed, and if done properly, both competitions would augment each other rather than detract from each other.


      • October 10th 2012 @ 2:30pm
        Siege of Perth said | October 10th 2012 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

        Only Perth, Adelaide and Wellington could realistically host games during the Asian Cup. The cities like Newcastle, Geelong, Gold Coast, Canberra etc could easily attended Asian Cup games with a little drive.

        • October 10th 2012 @ 3:23pm
          TC said | October 10th 2012 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

          The Asian Cup will not be affected by Jets fans attending a home game over the same period, or by Canberra hosting an A-League game (3 hours drive from Sydney), etc.


          • October 10th 2012 @ 3:35pm
            Kasey said | October 10th 2012 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

            But doing it that way means Jets fans(and whichever 2 teams play in CBR) have to choose between attending their club’s HAL game or traveling to support the National team…stupid IMO. Just stop the HAL and let all football fans enjoy the tournament:)

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2012 @ 9:55am
              langou said | October 11th 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

              It’s not just about the national team either. Also the games we are not involved in. It would be sad to see two great football nations playing out in front of only a few people. We need to ensure there are no distractions so that the images being beamed back to Asia and the World show healthy crowds at all the games.

            • October 11th 2012 @ 10:21am
              TC said | October 11th 2012 @ 10:21am | ! Report


              There are not necessarily games played every day in the Asian Cup, and even if there was, Australia is a big country – A-League games staged in Perth and Adelaide will not affect any Asian Cup games staged on the East Coast, etc.

              Just a little bit of creativity is needed – spread the load.


              • October 11th 2012 @ 10:28am
                Kasey said | October 11th 2012 @ 10:28am | ! Report

                Okay, supposing the Socceroos are playing on a Saturday in Sydney and not again until Wednesday night in Melbourne. You might squeeze in an AUFC home game on the Monday night. Its summer, people might come out to the non-traditional tmeslot, but how am I as an AU ST supposed to get from Sydney and then out to Melbourne assuming that I want to follow my National team in a tournament on home soil…

                its all right for you eastern staters, you’ve got the tournament in your backyard. Anyone from WA or SA needs to fly like crazy to get to any of the ‘roos games..better to just put the HAL on hiatus for a month and let the football fans of this country focus on one tournament at a time. What about if I want to catch anotther group game that catches my fancy? We are going to look silly if we can’t get crowds to the other games…besides, I venture that (as in the 2003 RWC) the Socceroos tickets will be bundled with other games to ensure no games are played in front of empty stadia.

              • October 11th 2012 @ 10:45am
                Kasey said | October 11th 2012 @ 10:45am | ! Report

                I’m wondering if FFA will even get the choice. FIFA already dictate that no ‘major events’ take place either side of a World Cup(remember it was this that allowed AD to run his ‘Soccer wants no Footy’ in 2018 or 2022 scare campaign)..I wouldn’t be surprised if the AFC just issue a blanket, thou shalt not play domestically during our showpiece tournament dictat. (In saying that I still think the FFA will put the HAL into recess – Lowy even seemed to take it on board yesterday)

    • October 11th 2012 @ 10:04am
      Titus said | October 11th 2012 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      Take a break while the cup is on and give a-league members free or reduced price tickets to all but the Australian games.

      • October 11th 2012 @ 2:02pm
        Kasey said | October 11th 2012 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

        I’d be very surprised if members of the Football Family( club members) were not given priority access for tickets, especially Socceroos games. I believe that Socceroos games will be linked to buying tickets to other group games. Should be great to have a world class football tournament on our own shores, can’t wait.

        • October 11th 2012 @ 2:25pm
          Ian Whitchurch said | October 11th 2012 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

          After you’ve offered national team tickets to A-League club members, I’d go the other way around as well – offer an A-league tickets as part of a package to anyone buying a NT game ticket.

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