Memo FFA: Don't mess with the Cup

Football Federation Australia, as the guardians of our game, have the responsibility to make sure that the FFA Cup is the unqualified success it deserves to be not the subject of derision.

David Gallop FFA Cup

FFA chief executive David Gallop with the FFA Cup trophy Source: Getty Images

FFA cannot let a beautiful concept that has captured the imagination of the football public wither away or not reach its potential due to a lack of foresight and fair play.

At the moment the competition is at best a doctored exercise made for television and at worst an event with little credibility.

How else would you explain the ludicrous decision to award Melbourne City with a home final on November 30 when logic, statistics, history and common sense would suggest that Sydney FC have as much right to host the match themselves?

Sydney qualified for their first final by beating Canberra Olympic 3-0 last week.

Minutes after City defeated Melbourne Victory 2-0 to reach their first final, FFA announced that AAMI Park would be the venue of the third final.

If the choice of Melbourne would have surprised a few fans, the reason for FFA's decision to do so would have left many more gobsmacked.

AAMI Park was selected to maximise attendance and broadcast numbers while ensuring it is played in a venue that embodies the unique spirit of the competition, FFA chief executive David Gallop said.

What a load of gobbledygook!

Sydney have far more followers than City and a final at Allianz would have drawn a larger crowd for sure even allowing for the fact that the Sky Blues' fans are as fickle as can be.

It also is hard to comprehend how broadcast figures could be positively or adversely affected by the choice of venue.

The three A-League semi-finalists were asked to provide FFA with a case for staging the final if they got there but it could be suggested that the governing body, not for the first time mind you, were taking the clubs for a ride and were always going to do it their own way.

FFA, who take all the revenue from cup matches, must have been hoping that Victory get through to a 'Big Blue' with their bitter rivals from Sydney that would have reaped the governing body a handy gate at AAMI Park.

It's the same revenue-driven attitude that took the grand final to a cricket ground because Adelaide Oval holds more people than Coopers Stadium, which incidentally, despite its size, provided an unforgettable atmosphere when Adelaide United faced Victory in the A-League last week.

Yet this is not the crux of the matter.

Why do we have these arguments every year? The cup final venue should not come down to bargaining by the clubs or beancounting from FFA.

The very fact that the choice of venue is so controversial every year would suggest that the competition still lacks direction.
Forget the fact that the event is heavily doctored which goes against how domestic cup competitions should be run, why cannot FFA have a set criteria regarding the final venue other than adopt a purely economical stance?

Two years ago, after Adelaide beat Perth Glory 1-0 at home to win the first final, I suggested that the final be played at a neutral ground on a regular basis.

I proposed Canberra but the idea of Australia's capital being the annual host of the final did not go down too well and I am prepared to acknowledge that it is perhaps not the best solution.

I also accept that a home-and-away final may not be the most ideal scenario, either. It's nice to have a winner at the end of a final, after all.

Having said that, I have no doubt that a Canberra one-off or a two-legged affair would be a better and fairer alternative to the current unsatisfactory and inadequate system.

There are ways for FFA to add substance and fairness to the competition final.

a) How about waiting for the semi-final line-up and deciding there and then that the final be played at the ground of the finalists with most points in the A-League at the time?

We have a similar 'order of merit' when it comes to hosting rights to the A-League grand final so it would be nothing new or random.

b) How about establishing a 'roster' whereby grounds (or cities) host the final in turns?

If a ground (or city) is not the home of either finalist we go to the next venue on a pre-established 'list' until we get to one that is one of the finalists' home.

c) How about rewarding the winners of the first semi-final drawn with the final.

It would be the luck of the draw in its truest sense. At least this way the venue would not be dependent on some FFA beancounter's calculation that often ends up in miscalculation.

Anything, really, to give the FFA Cup legitimacy and credibility and to eliminate the arguments, accusations and innuendo.

Incensed Sydney chairman Scott Barlow has described FFA's decision to play the final at Melbourne City's home ground as "a slap in the face" for Sky Blues fans.

It also was a slap in the face for the competition itself.

Something must be done. This FFA Cup is too good to be ruined by misguided and money-driven management.

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
5 min read
Published 26 October 2016 at 3:47pm
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS