Johnston's 'big bash' delivery deserves to be hit for six


The A-League needs to overcome a multitude of obstacles if it is to reach its true potential but a cricket-style 'big bash' is not the answer.

Football star Craig Johnston, who was a member of the Liverpool team that won the European Cup in 1984, said a six-a-side tournament in the middle of the A-League season would give the competition a much-needed spark.

This startling suggestion came on the same night six Socceroos legends delivered a highly acclaimed evaluation of the state of the game in Australia.

The likes of Mark Viduka, Craig Moore, Mark Schwarzer, Vince Grella, Josip Skoko and John Aloisi dissected the game from many angles and came up with valid points but at no time did they indicate that football should steer away from its culture and tradition as a means of getting back on track.

Johnston, however, sees something similar to the 'bastardisation' of the game of cricket as a panacea for football's ills.

"You know the big bash of cricket ... we do the big bash of soccer, too easy," Johnson told 10 Daily's Michael Cain alluding to a radical idea that could reinvigorate the stagnant game.

"Soccer has been over-coached and under-marketed and the other codes have got a march on us."

Johnston believes that a 'big bash' competition featuring games of four 15-minute quarters could be incorporated midway through an A-League season as a means of regaining the fans' enthusiasm for the game that has slumped in the last three or four years.

Apart from the fact that such razzamatazz is the last thing Australian football needs at a time when it is fighting for its credibility if not its survival, do we really need such wild distractions when the game is crying out for some serious answers to some very serious questions that present circumstances are posing?

Does Johnston realise that despite the recognised merits of indoor futsal and outdoor six-a-side games, the whole Australian game has to get its house in order before it can even entertain such folly as a big bash-style fad that will fade away as soon as fans see through its artificiality.

And how does Johnson expect those notoriously conservative football supporters to embrace such an alien concept when most of them could not even stand the pre-game face-off, for example?

This would be a classic turn-off, if you ask me.

Cricket's Big Bash came on the scene like a house on fire in 2011 but attendances and television ratings were on the way down as soon as the novelty factor started to wear off. There is no reason football should follow suit.

Johnston played a key role in making many ordinary Australians fall in love with football through his achievements with Liverpool.

He remains a hugely popular personality who has made plenty of contributions to the game, especially in the Newcastle area.

His 'big bash' idea is not one of them however and it should be hit straight out of the ground for six.