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It's a myth that the A-League needs positive headlines to thrive

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Expert
26th May, 2019
92
1235 Reads

Despite last weekend’s A-League grand final being a bit of a snoozefest, plenty of online fans would prefer to believe it was one of the greatest games of all time.

My wife and I had a few personal as well as professional reasons to be in Perth last weekend, so we were happy enough to head west and mix some business with pleasure.

I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of the occasion on grand final day and thought Optus Stadium looked a treat with more than 56,000 fans packed in.

The game was pretty ordinary though, wasn’t it?

For the second season in a row the low point was video technology failing to correctly adjudicate on a goal.

To happen once is a travesty – particularly when Video Assistant Referees were supposed to stamp out these sort of mistakes – but to happen in two grand finals in a row smacks of total incompetence.

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Imagine my surprise, then, to read back some of your comments regarding my thoughts on the game and discover that plenty of them were disapproving.

I even saw the old chestnut usually only saved for the big occasions when someone suggested that if I didn’t like the game, I didn’t have to write about it.

And that’s fine. If I wanted to win friends and influence people, I’d join the Toastmasters.

As someone who’s always been willing to dish it out, I’m just as willing to take it – and the whole point of these columns is to generate some online debate.

But with that being the case, perhaps it’s time we cleared a few misconceptions around the A-League with a little honesty session.

Sydney FC fans

Sydney FC fans. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Starting with the idea that the A-League would be better supported if only it received some positive media coverage.

Newsflash: that’s a myth.

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To start with, the A-League creates positive media stories all the time.

It gets daily coverage on The Roar, it puts out its own stories on aleague.com.au, it’s covered in depth on Fox Sports and every major metropolitan newspaper in Australia and New Zealand has at least one dedicated football reporter.

And guess what? In the grand scheme of things it makes next to no difference.

I’ve never once picked up a newspaper, read a feel-good story about how Matt McKay tucks his shorts in and decided on the spur of the moment to attend an A-League game. Have you?

The ability of the media to influence decision-making is one of the most overblown myths in the modern world. Just look at the last federal election.

You’re either an A-League fan by now or you’re not.

That’s not to suggest that the A-League receives equal coverage with other codes. Having once worked in a national newsroom, I can guarantee that’s not the case.

But the AFL and particularly the NRL receive their fair share of negative headlines and it doesn’t seem to stop fans from filing through the gates.

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What makes the A-League so special?

The fact is that if wasn’t for mistakes continually being made – like the VAR failing to overturn an incorrect offside call in the biggest game of the season – there wouldn’t be so much negativity to report on.

Roly Bonevacia (left) of the Wanderers reacts after scoring

VAR controversies have dogged the A-League for some time. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

However, I suspect we get so many things so wrong so regularly in the A-League that I reckon many of us suffer from a sort of ‘incompetence fatigue’.

Yet the answer, in my humble opinion, is not to bury our heads in the sand.

Nothing will ever change that way, no matter how unpalatable some of the game’s headlines are.

The A-League won’t disappear simply because someone wants to call a spade a spade, but it may well do if enough fans use trivial excuses to no longer support it.

That’s just my opinion. And the beauty of The Roar is that you can agree or disagree as you please.

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