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There is more to the A-League than just the one club

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The FFA Cup final venue is fine, as is the marketing behind Yoshi’s choice of team, however Football Federation Australia would do well to remember it needs to look after more than just one club.

Tuesday night’s FFA Cup semi-final between crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City was a throwback to the sort of full-blooded football we used to watch from England back in the day.

Forget the beautiful game, I grabbed the popcorn and put my feet up to watch the two sides kick seven shades out of each other in a contest that looked anything but manufactured.

The purists might complain about the lack of fluid football, but isn’t this what we wanted? A genuine rivalry?

I thought Melbourne City were the better side on the night, but Victory coach Kevin Muscat was right to be seething about Luke Brattan’s opener.

He told the Fox Sports panel after the game “it just seemed like there were two sets of rules,” and it’s hard to argue given that an offside Tim Cahill clearly ran across Victory goalkeeper Laurence Thomas’ line of sight for the opening goal.

Perhaps Victory’s frustration explained the game’s relentless niggle, although it’s not like the City players – and Cahill in particular – didn’t give as good as they got in return.

I can understand why Victory supporters might be upset at the manner of defeat, but from a neutral perspective I can also see why FFA want Melbourne City to succeed.

For that reason, I don’t see them naming AAMI Park as the venue for the FFA Cup final as being a problem.

Yes, it’s harsh on a Sydney FC side that has not played a single round at home.

But if the FFA wants to maximise commercial opportunities – and with the current broadcast negotiations still on-going, that’s not the worst idea in the world – then hosting the final in front of Melbourne City’s home fans makes sense.

What FFA needs to be wary of is the perception forming that they’re only looking out for the interests of one club.

Ten-year-old Yoshi was always going to pick Melbourne City – like Fox Sports commentator Simon Hill said in a reddit AMA yesterday, maybe it had something to do with City signing someone recognisable like Cahill? – and FFA’s Head of Marketing Rob Squillacioti and co should be congratulated for creating a campaign that got absolutely everyone talking.

No doubt those whinging on Twitter about a kid from Sydney choosing a team from Melbourne to support will be the same who declare their undying love for Liverpool or Arsenal on Saturday night.

Besides, the whole point of the “You Gotta Have A Team” campaign is to get non-committed fans into the A-League – and getting casual fans talking about the competition is the first step.

Melbourne City’s nascent rise should also have the effect of dragging their heavyweight big brother along for the ride.

Earlier in the week there was some instructive insight from Herald Sun journalist David Davutovic, who said on SEN radio that Melbourne City will spend a staggering $9.15 million on salaries this season.

“There’s nothing stopping any of the other clubs from spending this money, because there’s three marquee positions available to spend as much as you like,” Davutovic told The Run Home show.

While most clubs don’t exactly have the buying power of the City Football Group, there’s nothing preventing them from signing a World Cup winner like Miroslav Klose outside the salary cap.

Victory have taken a step in the right direction by snaring Maxi Beister on loan from Mainz, and hopefully he can put the sort of flamboyant skills he’s shown in the Bundesliga to good use here.

As for every other club, there’s plenty still to aspire to.

FFA are going OK so far this season – just as long as they remember there’s more to our football than just Melbourne City.

© 2016 | This article was written by Mike Tuckerman and first appeared on The Roar on 28 October 2016

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