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Opinion

The A-League's fan-base could use an attitude adjustment

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Expert
19th July, 2020
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In an ideal world, Adelaide United might have followed their 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar last night with a clash against a newly promoted South Melbourne next weekend.

The game would pit a couple of up-and-coming coaches in South Australian legend Carl Veart against Argentine-born, Spanish-trained Esteban Quintas in a fixture broadcast as an Over-the-Top stream potentially owned and operated by Football Federation Australia.

The trouble is we don’t live in an ideal world, but rather one currently reeling from the effects of a worldwide pandemic that has caused monumental upheaval across the globe.

That any football is being played at all in these strangest of times is a minor miracle.

Some online critics have argued the A-League should simply have terminated the 2019-20 season and declared runaway league leaders Sydney FC champions long ago.

There’s no denying the fact that certain aspects of the A-League’s resumption have been questionably handled, including a series of thwarted attempts by the competition’s three Melbourne clubs to get across the Victorian border a fortnight ago.

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And the new-look competition took some getting used to when tuning into the three fixtures broadcast over the weekend.

It was football, but not as we know it. For one thing, there was no Video Assistant Referee.

“Hallelujah!” screamed the purists on Twitter. At least until Sydney FC benefited from a couple of close calls, when suddenly the idea of forensically checking decisions that went the way of the Sky Blues didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all.

Sydney FC fans

(Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For another thing, there was no Simon Hill – at least on Fox Sports’ broadcasts.

The commentator many regard as the voice of Australian football has popped up here, there and everywhere since he announced his contract with Fox Sports had come to an end.

He’s written columns for The Guardian, lent his dulcet tones to SEN radio in Melbourne, started a podcast with Craig Moore and Zeljko Kalac and even pitched up back where it all began all those many years ago on The World Game.

Hill, you’d have to think, is simply too good a broadcaster and journalist to be lost to the professional game for long.

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But here’s the kicker. Until only a few weeks ago, most fans would have laughed off the idea that A-League broadcasts – not to mention the Socceroos – could continue without their number one commentator.

Yet the A-League was in trouble long before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

And the readiness of so many to point the finger at everyone else as the reason for football’s troubles has created a vicious cycle of a blame game that shows no sign of ending.

Browse social media on any given match day and you’ll find the A-League’s woes attributed to any one of Frank Lowy, David Gallop, Fox Sports, mainstream media, the VAR, FFA or any other number of parties.

FFA CEO James Johnson

FFA CEO James Johnson. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

But there seems to be far less willingness to look at ourselves and ask what exactly we’re doing to support the game?

Because the three weekend fixtures provided plenty of positives to those who cared to look.

Winter football? It seemed to agree with Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix, who staged a gripping contest in Kogarah on Friday.

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Local coaches? Both Carl Veart and Warren Moon got their chances overnight.

And Dane Ingham’s strike to settle Perth Glory’s 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners was as neat a finish as we’ve seen all season.

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Add the FFA’s impressive James Johnson and a 2023 Women’s World Cup that can help drive the game forward and it’s hardly all doom and gloom.

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But what the A-League could use right now is an attitude adjustment, particularly from a fan-base whose laundry list of complaints is starting to become toxic.

Because that ideal of one day watching a club like South Melbourne promoted to the top tier will forever remain a pipe dream if we all turn our backs on a professional league currently fighting for its life.