The Roar
The Roar



'Damage the game': Cove boycott is justifiable, but won’t make a difference if they go it alone

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6th May, 2023
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The APL’s decision to assign Sydney Grand Final hosting rights for the next three seasons was met with anger, frustration, and confusion amongst most supporters and people involved in the game.

It was a money-grabbing opportunity that was taken with both hands. Perhaps, some Sydney-centric bias also fuelled the settlement considering the Australian football headquarters are based in the Harbour City. 

Straight after the major announcement that sent shockwaves across the code, fans of multiple clubs threatened to boycott games in protest and are sticking by their word.

Melbourne Victory’s active support group, The North Terrace, decided to take their ‘protest’ 10 steps too far as we all remember the disgraceful scenes that unfolded at AAMI Park during the Melbourne Derby. Since then, it ruined the momentum for any breakthrough to compromise between the supporters and the APL.

Throughout the week, Sydney FC’s The Cove sent out a statement on their official social media accounts to confirm their intentions to boycott the Sydney Derby elimination final due to the APL’s Grand Final location choice.

Sydney FC fans

(Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“We understand that some of you may feel hurt or disappointed by our decision to boycott this weekend’s game…However, there are times where we need to stand up for ourselves and make sure that issues are addressed,” part of the message read.

Firstly, kudos to the active Sydney support group for showing immense courage in not showing up to such a massive encounter and standing up for what they believe in. The final is hosted in their city and they didn’t have to do it.


Last year I wrote a piece stating my view regarding every fan and member of the A-League who disagrees with the APL’s decision to peacefully boycott games as well as unsubscribe to Paramount+ to make their feelings known and felt.

Boycotts are effective, but if everyone isn’t joining in the same cause and it’s left with just a few trying to send a message, it becomes ineffective very quickly.

Last night’s clash at CommBank Stadium still produced a great atmosphere from Wanderers’ point of view. The RBB were in full voice and helped provide an entertaining spectacle.

Sydney’s absence in the stands was still felt as it missed that rivalry and colour both pre-game and throughout the match that make up the essence of a true derby. In saying that, the Wanderers fans showed up, and that’s all the APL will care about.

There were a few more empty seats noticeable, but really, Sydney’s protest was pretty much pointless. 

For this protest to work, everyone needs to buy into it. If not, instances such as The Cove last night only damage the game and the code as a whole, even though it isn’t their objective.


Picture in your mind for a moment the incredible message an empty stadium at the Grand Final will send to the APL. It would present as a complete embarrassment but also hurt their pockets, which was their motive behind the decision in the first place.

We all know that scenario is a long shot, adding in the fact that not everyone shares the same opinion as The Cove and supports the move.

So, what will last night’s protest ultimately achieve? Most likely, nothing at all.