Evolution isn’t immediate change, it is small changes over time to suit the surrounds. Here are some small improvements – evolution, if you will – I would like to see take place in the A-League over the next five years.
The FFA Cup
In just two year we have seen the FFA Cup capture the imagination of all Australian football fans.
While it has being a raging success, it would be naive and unrealistic to expect the tournament to not have an blips.
The final needs to be improved; lower ticket prices are a must. It is more important to have a full stadium and to record a lower profit than to have a half-full stadium and record a large profit. The final must be a landmark of not just the A-League season but the Australian sporting landscape, and this will only be achieved with a full stadium every year.
I would also like to see the final played as a standalone fixture. With 100 per cent of the week’s attention solely on one match, a better vibe would be created.
One thing that impressed me on New Year’s night was the crowd at Gosford to watch the bottom-placed Mariners play the Phoenix, a team that struggles to draw an away crowd.
The crowd nearly doubled from their last home fixture for no reason other than it was a ‘marquee’ match, taking place on a public holiday.
However, it would be even more popular if it was always against the same opponents (as they do in the AFL).
Hold the F3 derby on New Year’s eve at Gosford.
The Big Blue on Australia Day at AAMI.
Wanderers versus Victory on New Year’s Day.
City versus Brisbane on Boxing Day (after the cricket).
Perth Glory versus Wanderers on Labour Day.
Newcastle versus Sydney on Easter Thursday.
These matches, held on holidays, would generate extra attention as fans would treat them as more than just three points.
Superstar marquee spots
It seems the new trend with A-League clubs is to avoid ‘bling’ marquees and go with working class players who add value – not attendance – to the team.
However, a way to encourage clubs to bring in the big names is to offer a third marquee spot designed for players with ‘superstar’ appeal. This would be policed by the FFA, who would decide whether a certain player is capable of drawing extra attention to the A-League based on name alone. If the player is deemed big enough, their wage would be outside the cap, and they would not count as a visa player if they are not Australian.
This system would allow clubs to bring in big names without damaging their team’s performance, replacing the guest-player arrangement currently in place to allow superstars be part of the team.