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Opinion

Should the A-League still be on tonight?

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Expert
22nd March, 2020
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1233 Reads

It’s easy to forget two A-League games are scheduled to take place tonight, although whether or not the fixtures in Perth and Newcastle actually go ahead is anyone’s guess.

After another day of confusion and mixed messages on Sunday, it’s hard to know whether the A-League can continue in its present format or not.

With contradictory advice being doled out by various state governments and a less-than-forthright federal government, it’s not immediately apparent whether A-League clubs can continue travelling interstate or not.

Much of the hesitation appears to stem from the fact that the National Rugby League seems hellbent on continuing playing, with several clubs already rumoured to be on the brink of financial ruin.

It looks for all intents and purposes like the Cronulla Sharks-loving prime minister Scott Morrison doesn’t want to be the one to shut the NRL down, so despite the Australian Football League announcing yesterday afternoon that it would cease playing for the foreseeable future, the NRL seems determined to plough on.

And riding on their coattails is the A-League.

Will Fox Sports tear up its broadcast contract if the competition goes on a temporary hiatus? We might soon find out.

And if the three fixtures played behind closed doors so far this weekend are anything to go by, we probably won’t be missing out on a whole lot.

The football itself was entertaining enough. It started with that weird and wild contest in Gosford, where both teams not surprisingly struggled with the intensity – or lack thereof.

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Melbourne City always looked like they’d have too much class, but if Central Coast can’t win a game played with all the ferocity of a training run in front of zero fans, then it’s a wonder just exactly when the Mariners ever will win again.

Meanwhile, Brisbane Roar’s 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast came courtesy of an excellent Scott McDonald strike.

The Roar have turned into one of the most difficult teams in the league to beat under Robbie Fowler and if the finals were to start tomorrow, you’d be hard-pressed not to back them as one of the favourites to win the title.

That’s especially the case given Sydney FC’s recent run of average form, with the Sky Blues slightly fortunate to come away with a point from their 1-1 draw with the Wanderers in the Sydney derby.

It was the most surreal derby we’ve ever seen played out against the backdrop of 30,000 empty seats in Parramatta. However, it was potentially watched by one of the A-League’s biggest international audiences, with football-starved fans seemingly tuning in across the globe.

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It would be very much in keeping with the A-League’s fortunes if a sizeable international audience was pleasantly surprised by the standard of football, only to have the chance to tune in regularly be snuffed out by the coronavirus.

But in the grand scheme of things, in the midst of an unparalleled health crisis, it’s hard to see how the football can possibly continue like this.

I certainly would prefer it if the A-League didn’t have to shut down. A lack of football to write about affects my livelihood as much as anyone.

Kwame Yeboah of the Wanderers

Kwame Yeboah of the Wanderers celebrates (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

But as much as it’s a natural reaction to worry about losing a livelihood, it’s surely more important to worry about losing one’s life.

Because that’s the territory we’ve now entered. These are unprecedented challenges, with no easy answers in sight.

And if the two fixtures go ahead tonight, I’ll tune in faithfully as always.

But without meaning to state the obvious, the competition is clearly not the same one it was three weeks ago. It’s hard to see the finish line from here.

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Should we still be playing football?

The broadcast contracts might demand it, but these troubled times are clearly anything but business as usual.