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Can the A-League blame rival codes for football's failures?

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Roar Guru
5th June, 2019
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1386 Reads

‘Go or no go’ is a business term I became familiar with in my early 20s.

My first introduction was when working on Rupert Murdoch’s personal staff, from the marketing folk discussing whether a major sale had been made or not.

Later in my career, the term referred to whether an investment should be made or not.

Key to the decision-making process was the need to form a dispassionate view of the data and facts in front of you. Let the figures and trend lines speak for themselves. It was essential to set aside your personal bias and world views, as these tended to cloud the decision making and lead to incorrect decisions.

This week, A-League head Greg O’Rourke gave an a long interview to SBS.

O’Rourke repeated the old chestnut about how competitive the Australian sporting market is, pointing out we have four football codes competing in the same market space.

O’Rourke went further, saying that comparing Australian football to Europe was poor because the round-ball code sits atop of the tree with nothing close. He referred to the J-League as not having anywhere near the same competition, and that in Japan, the teams have much larger budgets so comparing the A-League to the J-League was also not a good comparison.

This argument is BS, used to cover the inefficiencies of management and those running the game.

O’Rourke gave the example of cricket, which went in big time to develop the Big Bash and it worked in getting younger people back to their games.

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A-League crowd

The A-League has struggled to attract crowds this season. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The A-League chief said whoever runs professional football in Australia has these challenges to overcome and you simply can’t ignore them or operate as if they don’t exist.

O’Rourke came across as a person in management who understood the desires but wanted to caution about over-expectations. The pity was the interviewers tried to cover many issues and this resulted in some things being discussed not in great detail.

I understand and accept there is a lot of truth in what he is saying. Equally, I can point to many areas of mismanagement by the various boards running football over the last 60 years.

There are some undeniable facts pertaining to the level of sports competition in Australia. Few other countries have this level of competition. However, does this in and of itself excuse boards for the position we find ourselves in?

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The desire to broaden the A-League to 38 rounds is well outside what Fox is willing to broadcast. Without the Fox money and the sponsors who come with that broadcast deal, football today would struggle for revenue.

We don’t have lots of competition, but equally many management decisions have been poor.

We have never had a plan nor a leadership group that tried to connect to both the player group and fans.

Where the balance lies is a subjective judgement, but what this clearly indicates is the need for a lot of work on a number of different solutions, because no single solution will bring in the player base.