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Nothing sums up a trainwreck of a season like sending out a media release that says the championship-winning goal shouldn’t have been allowed.
“Media Statement in relation to the A-League 2018 grand final,” read the subject line of a press release that landed in plenty of inboxes on Sunday morning.
“Football Federation Australia has conducted a review into the goal decision by the VAR during last night’s A-League 2018 grand final between the Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory,” it read.
“It has found that a technical failure in the VAR system meant that the Video Assistant Referee did not have access to the camera views which would have enabled him to make an offside ruling in the ninth minute goal scored for Melbourne Victory by Kosta Barbarouses.”
Plenty of fans reckon the finals series is a waste of time, but no one could have suspected it would be proved quite so literally.
And on the back of an A-League season in which everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, we’re left to unravel the latest cavalcade of excuses from a governing body that feels like it’s run by Mr Bean.
In fairness to the FFA, they said the blame for technical failure lay at the feet of “technology partner” Hawkeye – which apparently suffered a 30-second software blackout in the vital half-minute just before the goal.
“We are extremely disappointed at this failure of the VAR technology,” said O’Rourke. “And we understand the disappointment and frustration of the Newcastle Jets, their fans and indeed all football fans.”
He would say that. What else could he possibly say?
Never mind that the VAR created more problems than it solved this season.
Forget the fact that the overwhelming majority of fans don’t want it used at all.
The biggest problem this latest fiasco has caused is to eviscerate what little credibility the FFA had left suggesting they can adequately run the A-League.
This is an organisation that only recently implied the ten A-League clubs can’t be trusted to run the competition themselves.
Those ten clubs should always be scrutinised, of course, and any ulterior motives brought to light.
But if you had to sum up the current FFA regime with one word, you’d mark the file ‘incompetent’ and then toss it into the nearest dumpster fire.
I had lunch with someone well versed in A-League management recently – who would no doubt prefer to remain anonymous – but who neatly encapsulated the feeling around those in charge of the game.
“The problem with those at the top of the FFA,” my dining companion told me, “is that you can’t escape the feeling they’re just waiting for their next job”.
“They never defend the game or its fans, they never say anything controversial… because they’re all just waiting for their next big role in sports administration.”
In other words, some of these executives are squatting on jobs.
And it will be all that O’Rourke can do – and he’s been noticeably proactive in the media of late – to turn the tide of resentment now threatening to swamp the FFA.
As for the game itself, congratulations to Melbourne Victory. They were the better team on the night and in Lawrence Thomas, they possessed a worthy Joe Marston Medal winner.
And commiserations to the Newcastle Jets. Perhaps the occasion got the better of them, but they saved one of their worst performances until last.
Roy O’Donovan, meanwhile, deserves a lengthy suspension for his reckless lunge on Thomas, with the Irishman making a nasty habit of causing potentially serious injuries.
And the less said about the rest of the season the better.
It was a campaign in which the decent football on display on the pitch was overshadowed by some dire administration off it.
Bring on the off-season. It’s surely the one part of the game we can’t mess up.