We are currently in the midst of the A-League Final series. So, why do we have them? In my opinion, they’re completely unfair and an utter waste of time.
Every season I find myself asking the same question as to why Australia has an unhealthy fascination with finals in sports, and the more I think about it, the less sense it makes.
In my eyes it belittles the achievement of completing the football season in first place and with the current A-League consisting of 27 rounds, this should be the achievement we focus on.
Unfortunately, the team that finishes the season in first position is labelled ‘Premiers’ and in some odd cases ‘Minor Premiers’ when this shouldn’t be the case, the winning team are A-League Champions.
Yet we are stuck with this defunct design which people praise for its ability to attract the crowds who love the thrill of an elimination final. A greater thrill would be the presence of promotion and relegation but we won’t speak about that, will we… I do understand the logic of the final series, but if you want to attract fans to watch the A-League, you have to market the fucking game!
I could easily dive deep into the A-League’s cluelessness on how to market the most popular sport in the world, but I must remain on topic. That will be another blog for another day.
The concept of finals has been in Australian sports for decades, with the National Rugby League and Australian Football League having adopted the final series to decide who should be crowned champions of their respective league.
This is where I believe the greatest failure lies. In the A-League, 27 rounds are played as I previously mentioned, and in almost every single football league around the world, if you finished the season in first position then you are the champion of that league.
It makes sense to me, after completing a marathon, you don’t then assemble the top 10 from the field and have them compete in a 100m sprint to then see who the winner is. The champion is the person, (or team in this case), that finished in first position.
The next pitfall of the final series is that in the A-League, the team that essentially limps its way into 6th position, has the chance to be crowned champions of the league, am I the only one who believes this is a complete and utter farce?
At the end of the 2018/19 A-League season, 20 points separated 1st position and 6th position, yet we give the team in 6th position three games to become champions! I will point out that historically, since the A-League has consisted of 10 teams, no team that has finished in sixth or fifth respectively have made it to the grand final, but they shouldn’t have the opportunity.
My final quandary with this structure, is it takes the title of ‘champion’ and applies it to a team that isn’t deserving of the title. As I have mentioned previously, three games are not sufficient enough to decide which is the champion in any sporting code. It not only is unfair but reduces the true champions to merely ‘premiers’.
I do, however, have multiple solutions. Firstly, scrap the finals series. It is meaningless and unfair. Replace it with an A-League league cup competition. This gives all teams in the league a chance at a title that doesn’t take away from the true champions of the league, but adds the excitement of an elimination competition to the fans, in addition to the FFA cup.
Or alternatively, reduce the the final six qualifying positions to four, similar to before the league had ten teams. Then introduce a European style play-off structure, with all teams competing in a home and away match. The two teams who win their play-offs on aggregate advance to the final where they compete for the premier’s plate. The title of champion is awarded to the team that finished the regular season at the top of the table, like it should be.
Both solutions requires drastic change, but it would be best to do it now while the league is still in its infancy.
Do you believe that my comments here are incorrect? Do you enjoy the current system that the A-League utilise?