Ex-Glory skipper Griffiths reveals why the A-League has stagnated

Former A-League midfielder Rostyn Griffiths believes the malaise that has gripped the competition this season is down to the conflict with the FFA over the governance of football.

Ratings and crowds for the A-League have declined and negotiations between FFA and warring groups have dragged on and on.

Griffiths, now playing in Uzbekistan with Pakhtakor Tashkent, captained Perth Glory last season and has previously had spells with Adelaide United, North Queensland Fury and Central Coast Mariners.

He admits he has tried to follow the A-League from afar but has been turned off.

“I’ve tried to watch it as much as possible but to be completely honest it’s getting on my nerves a bit,” the 30-year-old told The World Game.

“The game and the league if you look at where it is at the moment, with the national team qualifying for the World Cup and the Matildas absolutely flying, we’re producing some nice players but the A-League has sort of gone backwards.

“It’s disappointing. It’s turned me off this season and the whole issue with the FFA and the governance, it’s absolutely killed this season.

“Most of the A-League players I’ve spoken to are saying the same thing and it’s sort of vindicated my decision not to be there at the moment, which is disappointing because I wish it was where I wanted it to be. 

“It’s not where it needs to be.”

Griffiths believes the A-League is lacking direction, and that is affecting both the clubs and players. 

“If I’m the owner of an A-League club and I don’t know what direction the game is going in, am I going to throw money at it and try and grow my team?” he said.

“Probably not. I’m probably going to wait to see what happens and then make my decision from there. I think that’s what happened across the board. Teams have gone in half-hearted because they’re not quite sure what’s happening with the direction of the league. It’s fair enough. 

“At the end of the day when you throw money in as an owner you want to see some reward for it - some direction that the league’s going in. It hasn’t happened this season so it’s probably stagnated the league in general. 

“You’re seeing more and more players going overseas, probably who didn’t want to go overseas, but left because there was nothing else.”

The Perth product started his career in the UK, spending six years in England and Scotland, before joining Adelaide in 2009.

Griffiths, who has also played in China and Holland, said the salary cap in the A-League needs to be scrapped, expansion needs to happen and squad sizes should be expanded.

“For me, the salary cap’s done now,” the former ECU Joondalup junior said. 

“It did what it needed to do in the initial stages but it’s gone to the point where it’s going to hold the league back, in my opinion. Players are going to go to countries in Asia that they don’t need to to get that money. 

“That’s the reality where they have to go to less-superior countries, or less-superior leagues, and you can earn three or four times the amount you would in the A-League. 

“That needs to go and I think expansion of teams is a huge thing, but also squad sizes have to get bigger. Looking at Perth Glory for example, you’ve got players in the youth team coming through who are decent players.

“Jack Iredale has gone over to Scotland and done well, got some game time. But he’s a prime candidate of a player who, if the squad size was bigger, the club would keep him around and give him a bit of cash. 

“Maybe not in the starting XI but in the squad and ready to go if called upon. But when you’ve only got 23 players, and only two in each position really, people like Jack, they don’t need them because they don’t have a spot for them.

“So you lose good talent. There’s so much talent around Perth, generally, but it’s got nowhere to go. Before you know it they’re playing back in the state league.

"Extra teams and bigger squad sizes would be a big one as well.”

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4 min read
Published 23 February 2018 at 1:02pm
By John Davidson