A few quick fixes for the ailing A-League

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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173 Have your say

    Does anyone else get the feeling FIFA will do little to remove the FFA from power, and that we’re stuck with same issues for the foreseeable future?

    The announcement earlier this month that FIFA would allow Football Federation Australia to establish a ‘Congress Review Working Group’ sounded a bit like a euphemism for ‘we have own issues to deal with and couldn’t be bothered taking too close a look at what’s going on in Australia’.

    A week later there was that curious tidbit in the Australian Financial Review’s Rear Window column, suggesting Frank Lowy himself had “also been a recent visitor to Zürich, where he met with FIFA officials in a bid to lobby them over their pending takeover of the Australian league”.

    Fairfax journalist Michael Lynch said on Twitter that FFA spokesman John Kent emailed him to deny the meeting ever took place and that the AFR had printed an apology, but there’s no such sign of an apology online.

    At any rate, there’s a sneaking suspicion FIFA don’t have much intention of leaning too heavily on the FFA, and that for all the sabre-rattling from the A-League clubs, it will still be the Lowys and co. calling the shots well into next year.

    The next battleground is next month’s AFC Under-23 Championship and whether A-League clubs should be compelled to release their best players for the tournament.

    But there are still plenty of fires burning on the home front – not least the small crowds and low ratings plaguing Season 13 of the A-League.

    And that’s unlikely to change any time soon, with the Big Bash League in full swing and the Australian Open soon to get started.

    What the A-League needs is a few quick fixes – and fast – if not to salvage this season, then at least to kick-start the discussion around what could be done better.

    Starting with the following.

    More realistic ticket prices
    Spoiler alert: FFA have already, if somewhat belatedly, identified this as a problem. It’s why “kids go free” across the so-called Summer Football Festival.

    But guess what? Plenty of A-League fans don’t have kids. In fact, many of them are in the key 18 to 34 ‘youth’ demographic the A-League is supposed to be targeting.

    And many in that exact demographic have been policed out of active support by over-zealous security, and priced out of the game by over-the-top ticket prices.

    A-League crowd

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    A single adult general admission ticket for tonight’s Melbourne Victory game costs $38 plus a minimum $4.75 handling fee. An adult general admission ticket for Melbourne Renegades’ BBL game across town costs twenty bucks plus a $6.25 handling fee.

    Go figure.

    Better TV coverage
    We can have few qualms about the Fox Sports coverage. For a network that cops its share of criticism, the amount of time and money they dedicate to the A-League is impressive.

    About the only thing missing is a serious Football 360 show – although perhaps it wouldn’t be the same without the sadly missed Mike Cockerill anyway.

    What we really need to talk about are the free-to-air broadcast rights. Has the coverage been a success over on Network Ten this season? It most certainly has not.

    And maybe that’s because the rights were palmed off to the network when no commercial outlets bothered to bid for them.

    But surely FFA needs to do something about Saturday night’s games being broadcast on One – in Standard Definition – for less cash and lower ratings than SBS was able to generate?

    A few frank discussions should be had before next season.

    Actual marquee players
    We should probably wish for peace between warring football factions given the season, but since everyone is bored of governance issues, let’s wish for something that might prove more entertaining instead.

    Is a transfer system for A-League clubs too much to ask for? Loan moves? How about we just settle for some big-name players instead?

    It’s a wonder Lou Sticca’s phone isn’t ringing off the hook, but the man who brought the likes of Dwight Yorke, Shinji Ono and Alessandro Del Piero to the A-League doesn’t seem to be in particularly high demand.

    Sydney FCs' Richard Garcia celebrates with teammate Alessandro Del Piero

    (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

    Which is a shame, because the competition needs some star power. And not just one player, but a whole raft of them.

    A marquee player for every A-League club? Who wouldn’t pay to see that?

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (173)

    • December 29th 2017 @ 6:26am
      Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 6:26am | ! Report

      Morning mike

      I’ll agree with u abt the high cost of ticket prices but the kids go free is a great idea . I have no idea what the big bash has got to do with football.

      But otherwise I’m looking forward to the anonymous Newcastle jets taking on the team that can save the A league eg Melb victory. There will be 6 goals in this game , bet on it .
      3 all

      I begrudgingly look forward to watching nincovich and Adrian and Simon putting 5 past Perth

      Adelaide will push for a top 3 spot by winning again by 1

      Gombau defence and midfield will all have new clubs next week after they beat up again

      And those pesky mariners will get on the sauce on New Year’s Eve by beating Wellington

    • December 29th 2017 @ 6:35am
      Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 6:35am | ! Report

      Also mike

      On a lighter note

      Should A league clubs allow membership for pets like they do in the Afl , that’s surely a good initiative to get the numbers up , doesn’t really get bums on seats though

      I know when I got the family members pass for gsw this season , we registered the 3 dogs as members too, Scooby cookie and Lilly ( don’t blame the kids named them ) .

      • December 29th 2017 @ 10:27am
        Fadida said | December 29th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report


        They should let pets into games. We could release them at the 75 minute mark of all Sydney games when you know who gets brought on

        • December 29th 2017 @ 10:44am
          punter said | December 29th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          Amazing for someone so knowledgeable on football & seeing a hugely talented SFC team, sweeping all before them & all you can do is concentrate on 1 player you dislike.

          • December 29th 2017 @ 2:31pm
            Fadida said | December 29th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

            I think I’m one of the few on here who enjoy watching SFC Punter.

            I dislike a number of SFC players actually; Brosque had become increasingly dirty and whiny, I’ve never liked Wilkshire and his neck tattoo doesn’t help. Something about Boijs (sp?) annoys the hell out of me, the haircut and the too tight shirt I think.

            Things are pretty dark and morbid on the tab most of the time, I use Simon humor as a pressure valve

            • December 29th 2017 @ 2:39pm
              punter said | December 29th 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

              Likewise Fad, there was a slight sarcasm in my comment, not the biggest Simon fan either.

              As for enjoying SFC play, like I said a knowledgeable football fan.

              • December 29th 2017 @ 6:39pm
                Fadida said | December 29th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

                I forgot Carney! How could I forget Carney?

              • December 29th 2017 @ 6:55pm
                punter said | December 29th 2017 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

                Yeah you have Hoffman & Boogard. Smile.

    • December 29th 2017 @ 6:42am
      Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      What’s the odds this weekend that Kenny Lowe will wear a tracksuit and get red carded by the 60 th minute ?

    • December 29th 2017 @ 6:57am
      Waz said | December 29th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      End the restrictions on Active Support areas and let them develop as they will. That includes an end to pre-approval on banners.

      • December 29th 2017 @ 7:14am
        Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:14am | ! Report


        What’s going re the active support in brissie ? Too many rules

        The active support at Newcastle has reunited, and this happened purely thru the ceo lawrie mckenna and club legend Joel Griffiths ……..contacting fans directly on Facebook. Amazing what good publicity through social media can be achieved by an A league club .

        • December 29th 2017 @ 9:08am
          Waz said | December 29th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

          Doing okay but stagnant, still a few differences of opinions within the 3-4 groups that make up the vocal part behind the scenes. On a normal game day there’s around 1,000 in the Den, on a big game there’s around 1,500 (a rule of thumb would be 10% of the crowd are there).

          There’s still internal division but it’s not serious, but it’s not helping, the ffa rules and regulations mean that folk involved in organising active support end up with a part time job dealing with club, police, stadium staff, ffa etc just to support their team and often have to get to the stadium early, enter through a special gate just to get their banners/flags checked – often the ffa/club/stadium security didn’t communicate with each other and there’s a problem resulting in a long delay and lots of frustration. Suncorp security are famous for being uncooperative and obstructive.

          Simple things like getting a banner that says “Brisbane Roar” can take several emails and several days to get approved. If becomes wearing in the guys/gals involved to the point they say “why bother?” and that’s before they run the gauntlet of stadium security.

          The ffa need to back off and stop worrying about fat, white, middle aged shock jocks say about Supporters – let us get in with it and stop making it hard to be passionate about our teams.

          • December 29th 2017 @ 2:17pm
            Mattyb said | December 29th 2017 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

            Waz,i can understand your frustration but I think the measures being taken to limit some active supporters is a good thing and will benefit the game long term. I’d encourage those volunteers you speak of to keep up the good work and the cycle will eventually turn in their favour.
            I also can understand your ‘shock jock’ comment but football is a world game and I think the angle taken by some people does tend to look at football and behaviour at this level compared to sports that are only really followed by a few countries or even just us in Australia. Football does have a chequered history that scares many people and is still sometimes a battle internationally,a battle that is being won but is still prevelent to some degree but is being controlled.
            Recently I was at a league one game in England and for a crowd of around 5k the security to enter and exit the venue was extrodinary,and at levels I’d never like to see hear.
            It’s unfortunate,and I know some will get angry and ignore the facts or pass blame,but a small minority of active supporters have spoiled things for the rest in many regards and eliminating it now will be of the best interest in the medium term.
            Short term pain for long term gain seems the right way to go for me.

            • December 29th 2017 @ 5:58pm
              Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 5:58pm | ! Report


              I’ve seen the bad stuff in England, it still exists to a small degree .

              I Don’t regatd the A league fans at all like the rubbish overseas

    • December 29th 2017 @ 6:58am
      Buddy said | December 29th 2017 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      The A League certainly needs an injection of something other than the pleasing sight of The Jets soaring high in the table this season. The only other entertainment being provided is to view what mayhem Gombau is causing. Surely he is being paid by the “First Order” to locate the rebel scum and destroy the existing governance and replace the Popavic republic with a new totalitarian regime? BB8 has offered entertainment during these holidays as does the BBL. With many people on holiday and looking for somewhere to take the family, this colourful spectacle of hit and giggle is relatively cheap and family friendly. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t anything like the traditional game, it doesn’t need to be. It is just offering entertainment during the summer holidays and appears to be a success. Reading cinemas have reduced entry prices to $12 and only $20 for gold class where you get a comfortable reclining seat and are able to have food and drink delivered whilst being entertained on the big screen and it isn’t soggy meat pies and mid strength beer in a plastic cup. Its all about choices ultimately and there isn’t much in the way of enticing extras or standard offerings coming from the A League.

      • December 29th 2017 @ 7:37am
        Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        I think the sabotage of wsw by gombau is better then going to the movies . But I get your point abt value for money .
        A league tickets are too expensive.

        What is bb8 ?

        • December 29th 2017 @ 7:46am
          Buddy said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

          Really…you must be immune to the saturtion that Disney gives to Star Wars. BB8 is the updated droid that has taken over from R2D2 and C3-PO! Definitely a marquee player and able to draw in crowds and flog merchandise too!

          • December 29th 2017 @ 7:49am
            Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report


            I’m immune to most things .

            I’m more of yoda or Luke sky walker type person

            • December 29th 2017 @ 8:03am
              Buddy said | December 29th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

              So you have the power but need a lot of persuasion before you unleash it… but when you do………. seriously though it has been good to see the rise of the Jets again and to see the Squadron re-appear. The family friendly grassed area at the other end of the stadium is all well and good but the place needs noise, colour and something more than the polite applause that has been on offer during their absence. I still think it could do a lot better though. The club and Northern NSW football should be working together to recruit local players from about age 14 upwards to join the Squadron. They could make it really easy to get more numbers into those bays in exchange for vocal support. Get Williamtown involved as well…. surely this is a fertile area for recruiting into the RAAF even though most will not end up doing fly pasts in an F-18. The 2.5 hour separation of Newcastle does provide a certain degree of immunity in the metropolitan entertainment stakes so every effort should be made to win the hearts and minds of the families and the teenagers and young adults of the region in order to keep filling up the Jet Base – not necessarily a good name but the proper ground name is far too much of a mouthful and not sure how much meaning it carries.

              • December 29th 2017 @ 9:07am
                Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

                U r an ideas man

                And Great ideas they are too

                , I think you should be in charge of the whole A league .

              • Roar Guru

                December 29th 2017 @ 9:27am
                Griffo said | December 29th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

                Train the kids young in active support – it’s a pity the PSSA football comps don’t have points for schools participating in active support. What better way to use the school band, creative writing and school as a choir?

                Growing up we had a type of high schools league here…get that going again and do a similar thing. Kids are creative and don’t mind getting involved if the energy is there.

                Plenty of kids want to sing and chant at the Jets but hard when most mums and dads are just watching.

                Get a few Squadron members throughout the bays to rally the voices. Some can’t hear what is being said. Worked at the Australia vs UAE Asian Cup semi…

    • December 29th 2017 @ 7:05am
      Dimethoate said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      Too few teams vying for too many places in an oversized finals series.
      Regular season games lack context and meaning.

      • December 29th 2017 @ 7:15am
        Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:15am | ! Report

        A top 4 seems more sensible in a 10 team competition.

      • Roar Rookie

        December 29th 2017 @ 7:23am
        Stevo said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        NRL finals series consists of 8 sides in a 16 team regular season. The HAL finals involves 6 sides in a 10 team regular season. Hardly much difference and it’s not the issue.

        Poor promotion of the HAL, the invisibility of Gallop or anybody from the FFA in the media talking about the game week in week out is a crime. You would hardly know that we’ve made it to the WC in Russia such has been the abysmal promotion of the game on top of that achievement. Down here in Melbourne you couldn’t go a week in the AFL season without Gillon McLachlan CEO or somebody from the AFL in the media talking up the game. Gallop doesn’t know football and he doesn’t know how to talk about the game in a convincing way. He is invisible except when it comes to problems. Our problem is that FFA is too consumed with politics and fighting with stakeholders and has taken its eye off the ball. Much like the drop in crowds around the time of our failed WC cup in 2010.

        • December 29th 2017 @ 7:35am
          Kangajets said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report


          I hear you mate , and feel sorry for u that you can’t out of Melbourne for summer .

          Fancy having to see Gillan McLaughlin every day .

          In Newcastle the only distractions to A league are going to the beach every day ,
          No bbl , no afl , no one cares abt the knights until March

          most people I know are happy to talk about the jets . Old school media via the herald is on board . Social media is saturated with Newcastle jets stories .

          I think Mrlbourne city should relocate to somewhere where they would be loved .coffs Harbour is a beautiful place .

        • December 29th 2017 @ 7:54am
          jamesb said | December 29th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report


          Gallop is the perfect “yes man”. When he was NRL CEO, his masters were News Ltd. He would always answer to them. At the FFA, his masters are the Lowys. He will always answers to them.

          He has never been a CEO of a sporting governing body that didn’t have a major conflict of interest. Maybe that’s the reason why Gallop was hired by both codes. To play the “yes man” role. In the last 15 years combined CEO of both the NRL and the FFA, Gallop has only expanded one team, the Gold Coast Titans.

          You are more likely to turn into a skelton than seeing expansion and a second division under Gallop.

          • December 29th 2017 @ 8:26am
            AR said | December 29th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

            Gallop’s version of talking up the game:

            “Everyobe be afraid, we’re going to be No.1!!!”


            The ALeague feels desperate for expansion and whilst some may say Gallop can’t simply invent money for new clubs, that’s actually his main function as CEO – manage the overall operations of the FFA and create/drive revenue.

            Is the FFA better off financially (or otherwise) under Gallop’s tenure?

            It’s incredible he still has a job.

        • December 29th 2017 @ 10:51am
          RandyM said | December 29th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Gallop was exactly the same when he was at the NRL. He just surfaced when there was a controversy to comment on. Some Rugby League fans still think Gallop did well to “stabalise” the game post Super League, but whatever good happened to the NRL during his time was in spite of him, not because of him. He’s always answered to News Ltd imo.

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