Today, the A-League settled on which clubs will be joining them. The decisions they made were not based on football, or business. Bitterly, this is the same behaviour that sunk the NSL.
The FFA’s gaudy popularity contest came to a head over lunch, cannibalising any hope of any meaningful passion entering the league. From the pool of preferable bids, those in charge chose poorly. Instead of the established markets of Wollongong, Canberra, or South Melbourne, the two teams that gained official licences hail from Geelong (aka West Melbourne) and the Macarthur region of South Western Sydney.
— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) December 13, 2018
Both are cities that suffer from market oversaturation. Both are already heavily represented. In an opportunity to be different, they’ve chosen familiarity. Yet another Sydney team does nothing for the fanbases that missed out, or the league itself. They’re promising “more derbies”, which, again, oversaturation, as we’ve already got The Sydney Derby, The Melbourne Derby, The Big Blue, The F3. Mae West was incorrect in musing that too much of one thing is wonderful. These fanbases are not transferable. Those of the shire will not join the ranks of South Western Sydney, neither will Wollongong. Conversely, no-one outside of Geelong will represent West Melbourne. If it doesn’t work there, the fanbase is gone. I fear these two be nothing more than another Central Coast, or another Newcastle: regional teams, poorly backed, and eventually, poorly financed, with the FFA stepping in.
Let’s have a look at the @WesternMelbGrp and @WeAreTeam11 stadium locations. One is 100m away from the 9th busiest train station in Melb. The other is in a cow paddock. #ALeagueExpansion pic.twitter.com/Q26PJ3l1zU
— バート (@robertpicking) December 12, 2018
What of the other bids? Well, Wollongong (other than being well supported, and established back in the NSL) fell with the growing obliques and ancient knees of Ronaldinho. South Melbourne because Melbourne and Canberra, because, dunno. All three have strong roots to the original edition. Which could be the problem. Being part of the old league precludes you from the new one.
Whatever we are, is not that. The ethnic nepotism in the dark days of the NSL will stay forever dark. The choices made speak loudly to that being an issue.
The league chose the possibilities, opting for these plastic clubs. The thing that is killing the league, is an inherent lack of identity. The Wanderers can’t be themselves, the ultra community has been heavily clamped down on, and every team is very much the same, empty seats and seagulls. If it wasn’t for Melbourne Victory’s earnest efforts to be the league’s antagonists, we’d be nowhere. We’re a borderline joke due to mismanagement.
O’Rourke: “By having another game in Melbourne allows more away fans to be at Victory games and City games.”
Vice versa in Sydney…
“By having Sydney and Melb teams we feel we’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to spike those metrics” #ALeagueExpansion
— FOX SPORTS Football (@FOXFootballLive) December 13, 2018
What we’re left with is two new faces at the party. They don’t know anyone, they’ve been invited here by the good graces of the host. They’re not going to make any noise, because they want to stay. But no-one is having fun. We need someone to excite us. This is certainly not that. The reaction of every fan has been the same, again we’ve dragged ourselves to our phones to register our disgust.
The thing that killed the old league, was oversaturation. New teams in areas that could barely sustain the existing teams. Looking back, today feels like yesterday. The ghosts of Northern Spirit, the Parramatta Power, Marconi, the Newcastle Breakers and above all, the limp capitulation of NSL are the only chains rattled by this decision. The plan, again, seems like they don’t have one.
More than that, the community does not care, and that should be the loudest point the FFA should register.