'Playing while the Titanic sinks': Surreal scenes in A-League's 'last match on earth'

In a climate decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, with sporting competitions suspended around the world, Monday night's A-League clash was particularly significant.

While a dark cloud hung over the rest of the A-League season, Newcastle showed on Monday night there was reason to hope for brighter days.

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The Jets defeated second-placed Melbourne City 2-1 at McDonald Jones Stadium with top-shelf finishes from Steve Ugarkovic and Nick Fitzgerald, an impressive starting debut for Welshman Joe Ledley and a quality overall performance against one of the best sides in the league.

All while the competition was set to be suspended by Football Federation Australia on Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Football Federation Australia (FFA) revealed that CEO James Johnson would make a “significant announcement regarding the conduct of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season” on Tuesday morning.

It was clear what that was going to entail.

Yet Monday night's match played out regardless, with all involved knowing it was realistically the last match they'd be playing in a long time.

Seen here, the Newcastle Jets celebrate their win before the A-League season was suspended.
The Newcastle Jets won the last professional Aussie sporting contest in the foreseeable future. Pic: Getty

Fox Football host Adam Peacock said: “We may as well enjoy it while we can!”

The eerie nature of the occasion was not lost on viewers with one posting on on Twitter: “Watching this when you know the #ALeague is going to shut down tomorrow is like the band playing while the Titanic sinks. Gut Wrenching.”

Indeed, social media was inundated with similar sentiments from supporters lamenting the sad significance of Monday night's match.

Fittingly though, the game’s winning goal ensured the competition would go out with a bang.

A-league the last domino to fall in Aussie sport

By Tuesday morning, the A-League made the call to suspend their season due to the coronavirus pandemic, bringing all Australian professional sport to a halt.

FFA chief executive James Johnson announced the decision on Tuesday, saying the remainder of this year's season had been postponed, effectively halting the game at all levels in Australia.

Johnson said the decision came after consultation with the national working committee for coronavirus.

With only a few rounds remaining before the finals, the postponement decision will be reviewed on April 22.

Johnson said increased protocols placed upon society such as states closing their borders to control the COVID-19 outbreak had made it untenable to continue the competition for now.

"As a national competition played in all parts of Australia, as well as New Zealand, mission complicated became mission impossible," he said.

Johnson said he "remained optimistic" the season may yet resume and be concluded but admitted it was "heartbreaking" for players and clubs for the league to be postponed so close to the end of the season.

With all domestic and international football across the country now suspended, Johnson admitted the financial impacts will be drastic.

"We will feel this. We will feel the financial pressure on the game at all levels," he said.

"The game will survive ... will we need to make changes? Be different? I say yes."

With AAP