A-League clubs' own goal devalues FFA Cup final


Australia's professional clubs were wrong to oppose a plan to stage the FFA Cup final on the weekend before the start of the A-League because a great opportunity to give the popular competition a fitting finale was lost.

The FFA Cup should be played in its entirety in the A-League's never-ending off-season with the final held on a weekend.

Forget the fact that Football Federation Australia should dispense with its doctored draws and reward the Cup winners with a spot in the qualifying round of the AFC Champions League.

Head office should fill the considerable gap between one league competition and the next by condensing the whole knockout tournament into the off-season and staging the final a week before the A-League's kick-off.

What better lead-up to the domestic league can there be than a Cup final on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon just a few days before the commencement of the premiership.

This year's final will take place on a Wednesday night on October 31 bang in the middle of two A-League rounds.

The venue will be decided by a toss of a coin once the two finalists become known.

If, for example, holders Sydney FC reach the final they will have to play four days after a derby against Western Sydney Wanderers and two days before an away game with Melbourne City.

In fairness to FFA, the governing body wanted this year's final to be played on the weekend before the October 19 start of the premiership.

But the APFCA, the association of Australia's professional football clubs, opposed it because that weekend falls on a FIFA international window from October 8-16 and they felt teams could be depleted due to international call-ups.

The reality however is that the number of A-League players to be picked in that particular window by coach Graham Arnold for an expected away international match against a yet to be finalised opponent is likely to be very limited so the disruption to the clubs would be minimal.

In any case it would be a small price to pay for chance to give the growing competition the climax it deserves.

The knockout competition started tentatively in 2014 but has grown into an event that resonates with the fans who love nothing more than a giant-killing act from one of the National Premier League clubs.

The Cup has provided several such memorable moments and only two weeks ago APIA Leichhardt caused arguably the biggest shock of them all by beating champions Melbourne Victory 3-2.

The Cup has been a resounding success in its five editions and I feel that playing the final on a Wednesday night does not do it justice.

A weekend final just prior to the A-League's kickoff would give it the prominence it needs.

The FA Community Shield offers the perfect lead-up to the Premier League and so do various Super Cups in other countries.

It's too late to do it in 2018 but the powers-that-be would be well advised to reconsider their stance for the coming seasons.

Quarter-final line-up

September 19: Melbourne City v Western Sydney Wanderers, Avondale v Sydney FC
September 26: Bentleigh Greens v Heidelberg, APIA Leichhardt v Adelaide United