There is no doubt that things are coming to head in terms of Perth teams being taken seriously as a part of national competitions, especially football.
Last night it was announced, as we predicted (Time to Show we are Part of the Family) following Adelaide United’s victory over the Central Coast Mariners in the second FFA Cup semi final that the inaugural Cup Final will be played in Adelaide and not Perth. The FFA once more kicking Perth football where it hurts.
It was incredible to read the reaction on social media, close to 400 comments in under two hours of the game finishing and the announcement being made, and virtually all of them lambasting the FFA for their decision.
Head of the Hyundai A-League Damien de Bohun has said that the decision to award the Cup Final to Coopers Stadium was based on stronger home crowds. “The selection of the Westfield FFA Cup final venue was based on the objective of maximising the attendance and the TV audience. It’s a cup final and we want as many Australians engaged as possible” he said.“In relation to crowds, Adelaide United set a new A-League city record of 33,000 in round 2 and filled Coopers Stadium with 16,000 last weekend”
First of all the crowd of 33,000 for the game played at Adelaide Oval against Melbourne Victory, a game that has become a major rivalry in the Hyundai A-League not because it was manufactured, but because of a Grand final thumping in 2007. Another defeat in the Grand Final in 2009 added to the rivalry as did the fact that in both of these season’s the race for the minor premiership had been between these two teams. Throw in the incident between Kevin Muscat and John Kosmina and a bitter rivalry was born. That is why Adelaide were able to fill Adelaide Oval, a game against any other opposition would be unlikely to attract anywhere near the same crowd.
Sadly Perth Glory have not yet established a bitter rival with another A-League side as they had in the old NSL. Trying to manufacture such a thing, as we have witnessed with the laughably embarrassing “Desert Derby,” will never work. Fans and events on the pitch create such rivalries.
Having never held a major game in Western Australia the FFA have no idea of the crowd that could be attracted by having a final in Perth; all they look at is the bottom line in terms of cost.
In a press release from Perth Glory Mr de Bohun continued to dig himself, and the FFA a hole, as he confirmed that the decision was also based on meeting commitments to the Fox Sports broadcast.
He is quoted as saying “The time zone was also a factor is this decision, as were the requirements of our broadcast partner Fox Sports, and the overall desire to make this a great event. We had pencil bookings at all four venues going into the semi-finals, but Adelaide is the right choice on all the objective measures.”
What he has confirmed there is that no matter how long Perth Glory or any other team from the Western side of the country play in this competition, 99 times out of 100 they will not host the final.
To try and appease the furious fans in the West he is quoted as saying “Naturally, fans in Perth are disappointed and we respect their views as passionate supporters. Of course, every fan would want to have the FFA Cup final on home turf, so we understand the reaction. It’s another sign that in its first year the FFA Cup has become an instant classic on the football calendar.” What a load of political spin Mr de Bohun. So far we have seen little or no evidence of you or the FFA ever listening to, or respecting the views of fans from this side of the country, so please keep your platitudes to yourself!
Perth Glory has had countless problems over the years, but in 2014 the team is playing good football, winning games and currently top of the league. Off the pitch they appear to be finally moving in the right direction as well. The club deserved to host this game, the people of Western Australia deserved a major football match, having been starved of any major international game in any form. Once again you have let them and the game as a whole down.
There are some who have said that the Western Australian Government should have offered the FFA money as an incentive to have the game played in Perth. One has to argue that public funds should not be used to support a privately run club. Neither should the club receive any funds from the Government in light of the State Government just last year having to write off almost $250,000 because owner Tony Sage’s club refused to pay a bill for taxpayer-funded public transport for home games at NIB Stadium worth nearly $400,000.
There are many who have said that to avoid such a situation in the future the final should be played over two legs; that has merit and makes sense, and may meet Mr de Bohun’s criteria of “maximising the attendance and the TV audience.” Others have also made a very valid point that if this is a competition that is to be taken seriously the final should be played at the end of the season, like all of the other major Cup tournaments around the world, and also contested on a weekend rather than midweek.
We all know that the FFA Cup was rushed through to meet a promise made to the Asian Football Confederation when Australia was accepted into the fold. Yet despite what Mr de Bohun may think, it is far from being “an instant classic on the football calendar.” The fixturing rather than a genuine draw has not been accepted by fans, the manipulating of the draw to ensure a semi-professional side makes the semi finals, and the FFA forcing some of those semi-professional clubs to play away from their home grounds against A-league opposition, and ultimately cost the clubs money, has not gone down well.
This latest decision leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. Many loyal Perth Glory fans will take time off work and head to Adelaide and they deserve to be applauded. Some will not be able to get time of work or afford it, and they will have to boost that TV audience that Mr de Bohun is so concerned about.
Football is, or was, all about the fans who paid to come through the turnstiles to watch their team. That is obviously not the case in Australia. The fact that Perth are unlikely to ever host the FFA Cup final for the reasons given by Mr de Bohun calls for some form of stand by the people of Western Australia. The best outcome would be for Perth Glory to win the Inaugural cup in Adelaide, and then along with the NPL teams in the state, announce that on the grounds that they can never host a final, they have decided to no longer participate in the competition.
It needs a strong statement to be made. Delayed telecasts of games that have already been completed are one thing, but prejudice on hosting games due to our geographic location and time zone are a step too far.