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What the FFA? It's not too late to change your ridiculous A-League finals schedule

Manton St Tales

The schedule for the first weekend of the A-League finals is incomprehensibly bad, writes Spiro Karanikos-Mimis.

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I am often accused of being an apologist for the A-League and Adelaide United.

To be honest, I am. I want to see the Australian game reach its full potential. And while I’m not in the “we can be the number one sport in the country” camp (simply because it’s not a logical argument), I do want my team and my league to be the best it can be.

There’s that famous scene from Titanic where the band keep playing while the ship is sinking into the freezing water below. I’m that band.

via GIPHY

Everything is fine here.

It’s been an interesting 12 months for Australian football. Many difficult scenarios have played out, on and off the ground. Crowds and TV ratings are down. But arguably, the actual football is getting better.

I keep telling anyone who wants to listen that these are teething problems in an infant league. We have to walk before we run. The A-League is still a young and new league and these problems were always going to surface.

And the new chair of the FFA seems to want to listen to fans. Chris Nikou has travelled Australia holding forums to get an idea of what the big issues are for the game. The one held here in South Australia, while poorly attended, was an interesting insight into the future plans for football.

But even I, the most sympathetic person towards the regime, cannot fathom how or why Football Federation Australia thought it was a good idea to play Adelaide United’s home final at 6:30pm on Sunday night.

It’s a mind-boggling decision and Adelaide fans have every right to be furious.

Melbourne Victory will play its home final against the Wellington Phoenix on Friday night. This is being done to assist Melbourne Victory as they have to play in Korea on Wednesday.

I understand that decision, even though:

The Dutch FA (known as the KNVB) recently postponed a whole round of fixtures to help Ajax prepare for their Champions League semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur. So it’s not unusual for football federations to help their teams who play in a continental competition.

By scheduling Adelaide United’s game on Sunday, the Reds will have to contend with:

Melbourne City fans may also think it too hard to travel in and out of Adelaide on a Sunday/Monday morning.

Unbelievably, there is no game scheduled in the first round of the A-League finals on a Saturday night.

It seems incomprehensible that neither of the two fixtures is being played on Saturday. More specifically, it seems completely dumb that the Adelaide game isn’t being played on Saturday.

Adelaide United Won’t make noise publicly. This may have happened in the past under different leadership but in the new world, it’s a “just get on with it” mentality.

They understand that this is the reality of the A-League finals being completely owned by the FFA.

But they must be seething. The school holidays are over, daylight savings are done and they have to contend with a rival code playing nearby.

You can’t help but think the brains trust at the FFA sat around a desk and asked the question: “how can we shoot ourselves on the foot in the first week of the finals” and this crazy idea was hatched.

Of course, the reality is that broadcast partner Foxtel has influenced this decision. Foxtel pour a lot of money into the game here and are excellent supporters of our national competition. We all remember what Channel 7 did when they won the right to the defunct NSL: it goes without saying that Foxtel have been very good and it’s hard to ignore their requests when it comes to scheduling.

But I think former Adelaide United CEO Grant Mayer summed it up perfectly when he posted this on Twitter:

It’s not too late for the FFA to fix it. They now have a chance to listen to their fans and move the fixture to Saturday night. It would show that they respect the opinions of those who spend their money at the gate. It would also show some serious goodwill.

After all, when the fixtures for this season were announced last year, a game was originally scheduled for this Saturday night.

Side note

Congratulations to South Australians Emily Hodgson and Charlotte Grant who have helped the Young Matildas to two wins in the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship in Myanmar.

Emily and Charlotte are both fantastic athletes, have played for Adelaide United in the W-League and are two of the most talented players in the WNPL.

The Young Matildas play Uzbekistan on Tuesday, and only a heavy loss would see them not qualify for the next phase of the tournament.

Spiro Karanikos-Mimis is co-host of Soccer on 531, which can be heard Saturdays from 9am and 11am on Radio Italiana 531am.

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