The Roar
The Roar


Football isn't binary, so why do we think it is?

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Roar Rookie
14th March, 2019

That ectoplasm called #sokkahtwitter can be a weird place, but it generally encapsulates the zeitgeist of where football should be heading and that which is undesirable for the game.

One of its failings though is the framing of arguments predicated on a rather unhelpful dose of binary thinking.

Binary opposition describes a scenario where a pair of concepts are absolutely opposite in meaning.

Consider these three simple questions.

Do all NPL devotees shun the A-League?

Do all A-League fans fear promotion/relegation may emasculate their clubs should they be relegated?

Do all A-League fans look down their noses at NPL teams thinking they have no place competing with them?

Of course not. There are some extreme viewpoints, and these are painfully easy to find on #sokkahtwitter.

The reality is that expansion and subsequent promotion/relegation is coming, even if it has taken some great gnashing of teeth to get even to this point.


Clubs looking to retain their A-League status and those looking to move into the top tier have similar yet differing adjustments to their forward planning to make with this in mind.

In a promotion/relegation scenario, A-League clubs would hold as top priority staying up, and this has different implications to just staying in the top six and challenging for the championship and ACL places.

The frequent lament of stale games for teams eighth, ninth and tenth after 18 or 20 games of the season engenders apathy.

Teams that honestly see themselves as relegation suspects would plan accordingly to consolidate then build.

Division Two teams with a real chance of promotion can plan to maximise their lower resources to give promotion a shake.

Those with modest resources and honest and realistic executives will concentrate on not dropping.

The implications for aspiring players is enormous, with players serving their club’s interests by giving their all while fully aware that rival outfits may be looking at them. Promotion/relegation allows for more of this quid pro pro to happen.

As for fans, if a fan bases their loyalty on whether their team stays in the A-League or not, are they real fans?

Central Coast Mariners A-League fans

(Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

If European champions such as Manchester United, Juventus, Marseille and Bayern Munich can drop and come back with their fan base intact, then so can Australian teams.

Broadcasting the game has already adapted to the changed landscape, with live streams of all NPL games making the game infinitely more accessible to fans, while Fox Football has been relatively stale, albeit with the welcome introduction of grassroots commentator Teo Pellizzeri to the mix.

And let’s squash this whole DNA concept of promotion and relegation not working in Australia.

Hiding behind acronyms is at best amateurish. If we’re talking about whether the sport or the nation the sport exists in is a determining factor in how a sport is organised, then the sport wins easily.

The overwhelming majority of football leagues worldwide run on promotion/relegation, and in countries with economies far more destitute than our own – even Venezuela relegate their bottom two teams.

This concept is miles away from the Anglo-centric and self-serving league and AFL silos.


Critics of promotion/relegation quote scepticism of the FFA as a reason not to proceed with it.

That’s a different matter. Toppling Steven Lowy was but the start of a new era, and while no one in their right mind is convinced the Lowy influence has been washed out of the FFA’s thought processes, there is visible change.

The presence of people like Remo Nogarotto pushing for expansion as the first step should engender some optimism.

Football needs to be unlocked in this country.

The A-League has been a welcome change as a whole to attract more mainstream eyes on screens and bums on seats, but it has been as much a straitjacket as a security blanket.

There are enough anti-football forces wanting our game to stay in its place. Why should we limit ourselves from within with binary thinking?