A-League should blow full time and proclaim Sydney FC premiers


The A-League should consider putting the competition out of its collective misery and call it a day if Australia does not see a ball kicked in anger in the next two or three months.

Runaway leaders Sydney FC could be rewarded with the premiership and the championship undeclared.

It would be a fair if unfortunate conclusion to a season that started with high hopes but had to succumb to the widespread effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sky Blues have done more than enough to deserve the Premiers' Plate and I'm sure second-placed Melbourne City would not begrudge them the accolade.

Sydney lead the competition by eight points from City and have three matches in hand.

But since the Australian championship is determined by the grand final, there would be no champions for 2020.

In terms of Asian football, Australia's allocation in the next AFC Champions League has been reduced to one plus two, meaning one club will qualify directly and two clubs will have to go through the preliminaries to play in the competition proper.

Sydney would be the direct entrants while playoffs could determine the other two participants. Wellington Phoenix, who are running third, cannot play in Asia.

Thankfully there are no relegation issues to complicate matters further.

This would appear to be a logical outcome but it is not as straight-forward as that.

The 11 clubs, most of whom have stood down their players, are struggling to make ends meet as they count the cost of COVID-19 that has wrought havoc with their playing schedule and bottom line.

One club administrator has even warned that the A-League would be finished if it's not back in six months.

So you can understand why the clubs are so keen - make that desperate - to see that the competition comes to an end in any shape or form even though some clubs might need an end-of-season pre-season to be able to get their players shipshape after a long layoff.

It is important to note that for the first time this year the six clubs that reach the finals are entitled to the gate money of the series that usually draws big crowds.

Fox is still on board and a resumption of the competition culminating in a finals series even if played behind closed doors would go a long way towards prolonging the broadcaster's financial commitment to the game which amounts to $57m a year.

'Home alone' football can be an abject and depressing experience at any level and if the competition resumes in that form it would always be seen as an 'asterisk' season, anyway.

But the clubs and many of their fans would argue that, hey, it is better than no football at all especially if some much-needed money is coming into the clubs' coffers.

It is not just about Fox, though. The clubs would have other crucial issues to deal with were the league to stop ... such as membership, sponsorship and hospitality refunds, for example.

As another club administrator put it, a premature end to the season could lead to insolvency and no competition next season.

It is yet another difficult position our professional clubs have found themselves in.

On one hand we have a scenario whereby the season is brought to a premature end and the clubs can start preparing for next season.

On the other hand the clubs are hellbent on trying to recoup some of their losses by carrying on with the competition if and when it is safe to do so.

Life in Australian football was not meant to be easy, was it?