The A-League has landed in hot water after announcing Sydney would be the permanent host of the grand final for the next three years.
Traditionally the highest-placed grand finalist has earned the right to host the season-decider, however, yesterday (December 12) the league announced a controversial change.
The Australian Professional Leagues struck a deal with the NSW Government to have the men’s and women’s finals played in Sydney in 2023, 2024, and 2025.
'𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐮𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭'— Isuzu UTE A-League (@aleaguemen) December 11, 2022
Beginning in 2023, the @IsuzuUTE A-League Men's & @LibFinancial A-League Women's Grand Final will be coming to Sydney 🏟️
And that's just the beginning: https://t.co/I6hV6xbjr9 pic.twitter.com/RUTYMHBUt8
It follows the lead of the NRL, AFL and Super Netball who have awarded hosting rights to a city regardless of who makes the final.
Fox Sports reports that the deal is worth over $10 million.
APL chief Danny Townsend said: “This is a unique opportunity to build a tradition for football fans.
“When you think about a cup final in England, you think about the trip to Wembley, and we want fans in Australia to look forward to the A-League finals in the same way.
“We have already broken the previous record for attendance this season in the A-League women and have set an objective to make history again with grand final attendance in the year that we host the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
Ahh yes, the A-League decided that these scenes are in fact not good for our sport pic.twitter.com/IZl6JjlqdJ— Subway ALM (@TheRealALM) December 11, 2022
However, fans and players alike certainly saw it differently and slammed the decision.
Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City active fans are now planning to stage a walkout in the 20th minute of the Melbourne derby in response to the decision.
Original Style Melbourne, the Victory’s active support group called the decision an ‘absolute disgrace’, whilst Melbourne City Terrace said it was ‘negligent and ignorant towards the wants of the league-wide fanbase’.
Victory and City active fans are staging a walkout at 20th minute mark on Melbourne Derby this weekend. We encourage other fans to do so too, or boycott the game. pic.twitter.com/9dAkk4xWP7— Subway ALM (@TheRealALM) December 12, 2022
Additionally, Sydney club’s own supporter groups were also against the move.
Sydney FC’s support group, The Cove, wrote: “Whilst of course this decision benefits us, it is completely unfair and unjust to the rest of the league.”
Western Sydney Wanderer’s official supporter group, Red and Black Bloc, wrote: “We are completely against the decision... It was a decision to chase $$$ regardless of the integrity of the competition.”
Socceroos star Craig Goodwin was included in the announcement video, however, he came out in opposition to the decision.
“The fans are the most valuable thing in football and as we have seen from the support throughout the country for the Socceroos at the World Cup, they are the ones that create the atmosphere and culture, and what makes the game great.
“Like many fans around the country, and like I said, I too am disappointed in this decision. Thanks.”
I wanted to clear things up publicly. I may be in the video for the @aleaguemen choice to host Grand Finals in Sydney, but I do not support it.— Craig Goodwin (@craig_goodwin11) December 12, 2022
I am a player, but I am also a fan. pic.twitter.com/e451tZcR98
Pretty sure ‘immediately piss off football fans all over the country’ isn’t what people had in mind when they said the A-League needs to take advantage of the Socceroos #FIFAWorldCup success 🤦♂️ #aleague— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) December 11, 2022
A kick in the face to every A-League fan. A kick in the face to sporting integrity. A kick in the face to the momentum and unity we have gained from the World Cup. I’m fuming. Shame on you @drt15. https://t.co/0g3Z8TpOBN— Drew (@vuck_shady) December 11, 2022
Former Socceroo Rob Cornthwaite tweeted: “No fans, no A League. Why must we continue to destroy all the things that set us apart? Baffling.”
Nine News reporter Mark Gottlieb wrote: “Pretty sure ‘immediately p**s off football fans all over the country’ isn’t what people had in mind when they said the A-League needs to take advantage of the Socceroos FIFA World Cup success.”
Football reporter Lucy Zelic said: “The A-League can try and dress this up as much as they like... it's a slap in the face to all football fans who have stood by their team all these years.”The APL responded to SPORTbible's request for comment, saying: "The Australian Professional League (APL) Club Chairs met today to reaffirm their support for the partnership with Destination New South Wales (DNSW).
"As a result of the consensus achieved in this meeting, APL is committed to this new and significant partnership and the resulting generation of important new funds for football - all of which will be invested into the growth of the game.
"We believe in the potential for Australian football to close the gap on professional football in other parts of the world. We thank DNSW for sharing in that belief and our strategy to continue to grow the Australian professional game.
"Our immediate focus will be to work with partners to ensure accessible travel and accommodation for all travelling fans and to build a festival of finals football worthy of our game."
Featured Image Credit: IOIO IMAGES / Alamy. Speed Media / Alamy.
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