No-one can blame Markus Babbel for saying the A-League is nowhere near the Bundesliga’s level.
Have you ever looked at something someone has called ‘progressive’ and seen it as backwards?
Have you ever laughed to yourself about the mismatch of ideas? Well, that’s me watching A-League and Western Sydney Wanderers bigwigs trying to spruik the safe standing area at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta today.
Have you ever seen Banc Of California Stadium? If not, have a search and you’ll understand why I’m making the comparison, and while the way they’ve spelt ‘bank’ might be funny, the way the stadium is built is serious.
With one whole end given up for safe standing active support, it’s clear Major League Soccer (MLS) builds stadia with fans waving scarves and flags in mind – unlike the FFA, who chased the Red and Black Bloc away long before Bankwest Stadium ever opened.
A quick glance around the MLS shows you more of the same. Orlando started the trend, while Minnesota’s brilliant Allianz Field is the latest to be opened.
It’s proved so successful that other teams with older stadiums are now looking at ways they can introduce the concept of safe standing at their stadiums. San Jose was the first to remove seats in favour of standing only.
What’s remarkable is that the MLS was bold in taking a punt on their own fans rather than making the concept of active support impossible, as the A-League has done.
These improvements to stadia are done with the crowd in mind and to empower football fans, but when I look at Bankwest Stadium I see an effort to curtail active supporters via a half-hearted imitation of the MLS’s work.
It’s a shame because Bankwest Stadium was an opportunity to make a difference. Instead it’s just another AAMI Park – which, to be clear, isn’t bad, but it’s hardly revolutionary.