It's an own goal with a red card chaser. The Australian Professionals Leagues' decision to lock in the A-League men's and women's grand finals to Sydney for the next three years has gone down like a lead Adidas Al Hilm.
Handed an exciting challenge to build on the euphoria created by the Socceroos in Qatar, the APL has instead managed to achieve the complete opposite by pissing off just about every single domestic football fan.
It's some accomplishment. Australia Professional Leagues CEO Danny Townsend, whose organisation oversees both competitions, says the move is about building a tradition among fans.
He has likened it to the English tradition of hosting big cup finals at Wembley, somehow overlooking the fact London can be easily reached by road, train or air while interstate fans in Australia face lengthy trips and an even lengthier credit card bills should they travel to the Sydney A-League grand final. I checked in with a Perth Glory season ticket-holder to see what it would set him and his two football-mad sons back to travel to Sydney for a grand final on a few days' notice.
He told me: "Qantas return flights at the moment are $800-1200. Chuck in a couple nights' accommodation and food/drinks/transport and we'd be looking at $4000-5000 before you even factor in match tickets.
"Not that they look like making it this year, but why the f**k should Glory or any other non-NSW side travel to Sydney if they're the top ranked team? Good luck getting a crowd there if they end up with a Perth-Adelaide GF over the next few years."
Football world raging over A-League grand final move
Townsend is a decent bloke and a sound administrator, but he's got this one horribly wrong. This is all about money - much like Netball Australia's decision to lock in Perth as its grand final location - so just come clean instead of using ridiculous corporate spin fans can see through clearer than Argentina's defensive wall.
Destination NSW approached the APL with an 'eight-figure' sum to host the grand finals in Sydney until 2025. It was an offer too good to refuse – but it seems to have been accepted with little consultation with some of the game's key stakeholders.
Adelaide United's Michael Marrone tweeted: "Not for the clubs, not for the fans, not for the players. Such a short-sighted decision." He added a money bag emoji to sum up what most are thinking.
— Michael Marrone (@MickMarrone) December 11, 2022
This is one of the most embarrassing decisions ever made by the FFA and that’s saying something. @drt15 this is going to turn a lot of fans away from the league and we can’t afford that
— Hugo (@h_jacobyy) December 11, 2022
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