Australia should defeat Thailand on Tuesday night but the important question to ask is “how much?”.
Of course, ‘how many’ goals do they need to score is a pressing question also, because currently Australia is two goals behind Saudi Arabia – who are on the same number of points.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Socceroos immensely and wish to see them qualify for the World Cup by thrashing Thailand on Tuesday night but how much money could the FFA make if things don’t go our way?
If Australia qualify directly for Russia, the FFA stands to receive $12 million from FIFA, with $10 million of that being prize money and the remainder is to be used for preparation.
$10 million is a lot of money and not be sniffed at but how much more money could the FFA collect if Australia finishes third and misses out on direct qualification?
Back in 2005 when Australia played Uruguay at Stadium Australia there were conservative estimates of $12 – $15 million dollars earned.
Part 1 of Australia’s qualifying ‘Moneyball’ play-off run would see Australia pitted against historic rivals Korea. Korea are currently second in their group but play away to Uzbekistan, who will be desperate to win to secure their own qualification.
Facing Korea is a very real prospect and would sell out Stadium Australia of the MCG in hours. I prefer a Stadium Australia match as it was the venue for the 2015 Asian Cup final and a rematch there would be prefect.
There would be $15 million generated for that game and after we defeat a goal-shy Korean side we move on to face the fourth best team in North/Central America.
Part 2, in the FFA bean counters dreams, would see us pitted against Team USA. Currently third but equal on points with fourth-placed Honduras and only three games to play, the Yankees are stuttering bigly.
Again it is a real possibility that the USA finish fourth and that would set up a massive final play-off for World Cup qualification. Play this one at the MCG and cram in 95,000 people and you would generate more than $15 million.
Conservative estimates put a successful Socceroos indirect World Cup qualification run via Korea and then the USA at around $45 million. This is money that could be used to turbo boost grass roots football in Australia and help grow the game for years to come.
The biggest part of me wishes that Australia had secured qualification already but they deserve to be in this precarious position after some of their recent uninspiring performances. A smaller part of me still desires the unbearable tension that was created in 2005 when we faced Uruguay at Stadium Australia.
I leave it to the readers. Given the choice, do you take the $10 million for direct qualification, or would you like to see four more high-pressure Socceroos matches and a possible collect of $45 million?