It had to happen one day and it looks like that day is on the horizon, Football going head to head with the sport we don’t mention.
As the A league expands, so too does the other code. As The FFA look to accept a team from West Sydney into the A League so too does the other code. As the A league plans a national Cup competition along the lines of the English FA Cup, the other code announces a similar competition in their game.
Football has a rich history of Cup competitions such as the FA Cup and this could be the competition that ensures the A leagues manages to navigate the rough waters of financial difficulty. The competition however will have to be structured properly. If state league teams from around the country are to be included then they will need to be seeded at home in the early rounds, to give them the chance of a windfall from the gate and reduce their already struggling overheads with an interstate trip.
It will be hoped though that these clubs will not be as short sighted as some of the Minor County Cricket teams in England were when pulled into the Nat West Trophy cup competition, seeing it as a one off chance to make money. My former county Wiltshire, produced a batting paradise for Leicestershire at the County Ground in Swindon, and chased leather here, there and everywhere as the racked up a record score in the competition; Durham, who were a minor county then, producing a wicket that suited their bowlers and rolled several first class sides before being granted first class status themselves taking a more aggressive approach.
This new competition is mooted to be a mid-week cup competition in 2011 that would kick off before the start of a slightly deferred regular A-League season and continue until mid-season during an A-League season. One question is should it have a traditional venue at which the final is played every year, or will one team be given hosting rights?
There is talk that this competition may reduce the number of A League fixtures. This is not a good move if it is true as already the season is far too short. As Rob Baan the former Technical Director at the FFA stated unless we are playing nine months of the year we will always struggle to progress on the international stage.
This competition has the potential to lift football into a sphere it has not been before, there is no doubt armed with history and the right promotion it should out rank the other codes version. But it needs to be done right; it also needs a name that will endure long after the naming rights sponsor withdraws. It is these things that need to be planned for the long term rather than the mere financials of the short term. The game needs to start writing its history and tradition, an area where it currently cannot match the rival codes.
We say Bring on the Cup!