It’s been a great off-season for football in Australia with the visits of Villareal and Liverpool, followed up by the ICC tournament at the MCG with Roma, Man City and Real Madrid taking centre stage.
Shortly after, the FFA Cup round of 32 gets underway, yet another reminder that football never stops.
Around 400,000 people will have gone through the turnstiles to watch some of the best in the world play on our shores – and some against local A-League sides.
While watching all of these games, both on TV and in person, I’ve come to realise a few important points for the sport and for the growth of the A-League.
Our league is heavily underrated, by our own sports journalists here in Australia, particularly the ones in the football industry. Now I’m not saying that our clubs are at same level of a Liverpool, Man City or Real Madrid, but considering our salary cap restrictions ($2.55m), squad sizes (max 23), and other limits (10 clubs, no junior teams or academies), we should be routinely losing by 6 or 7 to these sides.
Back in 2013, I saw a young Postcoglou-led Victory side give a good account of themselves against a Liverpool side including Steve Gerrard and Louis Suarez, the score was 2-0.
On Friday night, Brisbane did well for 50-60 mins, and ended up losing 2-1 to the Reds. On the Gold Coast, Man City struggled to do much against Melbourne City until a Sami Nasri cracker five mins from time.
But there was no mention of this in the local media, on the contrary, it was all about the quality of the Man City youngsters.
All the local articles that I’ve seen in print and online haven’t paid the local clubs enough respect, or given them enough column inches.
Other small footballing nations would be lauding such displays and score lines!
The local media outlets need to get over the cultural cringe of the A-League and start reporting more on our quality domestic competition.
If our media can’t pump up our local product, even when it performs well versus the best in the world, rather than jaw-drop at these stars when they come to town – then we’ve got a long way to go!
It’s time for Australian journalism to grow as the game has grown in the last decade.
I hate using this term, but was at the MCG on Saturday to watch Real Madrid v Roma, and the anticipation seemed OK before kickoff, but as soon as it started it felt like being at a funeral.
The atmosphere was so non-existent you could hear a pindrop, despite the 80,000 in attendance. Following that game, the amount of negative commentary that I’ve seen and heard about the sport on social media and in person at the ground has been astonishing.
People paid good money, but they were always going to watch a pre-season practise match, nothing more nothing less.
If people wanna see the players giving it their all in their home city in a meaningful contest, and not have to wake up at 5am every week, than they should come and try an A-League match. This is also something the media has to lead and help with.
Our domestic competition has had its hiccups, and it still has a long way to go, some clubs are in much better positions than others, and the sport still doesn’t generate enough revenue. However, what we’ve seen in the last 10 years is a constant improvement of our local kids, better and smarter scouting of foreign players, and the overall playing standard has been on an upward curve.
If we can get the A-League on commercial free-to-air TV, have all the top tier clubs establish teams down to under 6s, and expand the league to increase in duration and the number of clubs when the timing is right, then I think we’re in for a great next decade.