The Roar
The Roar



Have we all just given up on the A-League?

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6th February, 2020
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Only the A-League could schedule three major derbies in one weekend and be forced to watch on helplessly as torrential rain threatens to ruin the spectacle in at least two of them.

How good are suburban grounds? They’re great if you want to sit close to the action, but not so appealing if you want to avoid getting soaked in a downpour.

Which makes Saturday afternoon’s Sydney derby at Jubilee Oval in Kogarah more or less the right venue at precisely the wrong time.

When it rains, it pours in football – and the heavy downpour forecast to hit Sydney on Saturday will decimate the attendance and turn what should have been an entertaining spectacle into a water-logged slog-fest.

Make no mistake, what should have been a full house will be anything but because there’s simply nowhere to shelter from the rain in Kogarah.

So it will be left to the diehards and those who fancy a spot of Euro-style wet weather football to conjure up some atmosphere in what remains the A-League’s marquee fixture.

Here’s a question though: why schedule three derbies on the same weekend anyway?


Is the thought behind it that the excitement of the Melbourne derby will lead into the anticipation of the Sydney derby and end with the blood-and-guts battle that is the F3 derby?

The powers that be cop a pasting from critics like me no matter what they do, but in a campaign that’s been crying out for some major storylines, it seems strange to want to cram three highlight fixtures into the same weekend – not to mention a couple of other manufactured grudge matches.

I get that the Melbourne media tends to focus on the Melbourne derby and the Sydney media looks after its own, but surely having two of the biggest fixtures on standalone weekends would help generate some more national coverage?

Still, when the Sydney derby is relegated to one of the ABC’s kids channels by the Victorian Open golf, perhaps football should just be happy with any media attention it can generate.

We shouldn’t be surprised by the demotion. There was even a rumour doing the rounds on social media that there might be no A-League on free-to-air TV at all next week, although it remains to be seen whether that’s actually true.

But the A-League ended up on the ABC as a last resort – presumably as part of a deal that saw ABC channels remain accessible on Foxtel set-top boxes, after the public broadcaster considered removing them as part of a cost-cutting measure – and there’s been no real appetite from anyone at Aunty to view football as anything more than cheap filler content.

Sydney Derby

A-League derbies can be great, provided they’re well organised. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)


It’s all lead to a pervasive aura of doom and gloom around a competition that has always attracted plenty of glass-half-empty types – myself included.

Perhaps the difference is that unlike many of those who complain endlessly about the A-League and all its various issues, I’ll still be at a game this weekend.

And I’ll invariably watch the four other games of the round for good measure.

It’s all well and good to want a better competition, but at some point football fans in Australia are going to have to realise they need to do their part as well.

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What we’ve got now is an army of critics who freely admit they’d rather not pay for coverage or attend any matches, who then wonder why A-League clubs struggle for funds.

The competition might not be where we want it to be, but does that give us a licence to simply stop supporting it?

Maybe it does.


All I know is that I plan to watch as much domestic football as I always do this weekend.

That seems to me a more desirable alternative to having no professional top-flight competition to watch at all.