We're going to revolutionise the A-League, claim club chiefs


The new rulers of the A-League say they are "starting from scratch" in a vow to revolutionise the relevancy of the competition.

A raft of proposals including a revamped home-and-away finals series, Community Shield-type clash between Champions and Premiers and mic’d up referees have already been propagated.

But the message from the club bosses who now pull the levers of power is that they will look at anything and everything to lift entertainment levels, make the league more competitive and rebuild its nose-diving metrics.

“This is a transformative process and we’re all working as one to get this back on the rails,” Brisbane Roar’s vice-chairman Chris Fong said.

Fong is also the deputy chair of the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA), the umbrella body for the clubs.

“The changes (to start this season) are going to be radical and will make the game far more interesting,” he continued.

“We have to do things differently to the past - we can’t just take over and run the game the same way as before.

“Right now the entire game is up for review. We’re looking at adding intrigue and value to the finals series and giving people new insights with referees possibly having mics to reveal decision-making processes. But that’s only a fraction of what we’re looking at.

“Its really open slather in terms of exploring ways to give the league an immediate lift.

“The games also need to be more competitive, with more at stake and less of a gap between the teams.”

The air was thick with thought bubbles at a two-day summit between the club bosses last week, with other ideas like extending benches to accommodate two under-23 players, a commitment to elongating and expanding the National Youth League and re-defining the expansion criteria en route to a 16-team competition.

“Regarding expansion we’re going to do our own research and identify the areas that need to grow rather than just going out and getting people to waste their time and money with a series of bids,” Fong added.

“We’re in the process of trying to formulate a whole bunch of ideas. We’re starting from scratch literally ... the entire structure of the competition needs to be reset.

“It’s going to be very different to what people have experienced the last few years.

“It will take a few seasons but it’s going to be a massive change.”

Also high on the agenda is a desire to improve the standard of refereeing, which has been under the spotlight for several seasons.

“Obviously the implementation and interpretation of VAR attracted a lot of debate last season, and while we’re looking at that we also know we need to improve the quality of refereeing across the board,” Fong said.

“Clubs are also taking a very serious approach to recruitment.

“We all know we have to improve and now we have been given the keys it’s up to us to use them wisely.

“We’re taking a revolutionary approach in how we engage with our corporate and broadcast partners in terms of giving them value for money.”

Referring to expansion, and the possibility of a second team in New Zealand, Fong said: “New Zealand has been a difficult case but we have been very supportive of Wellington and that continues.

“To help Wellington lift their metrics a second New Zealand team needs to be considered.

“But I wouldn’t be discounting Canberra or Brisbane either, although we have stadium issues in Brisbane.

“I personally feel there are other markets aside from those we have already expanded into in NSW and Victoria.

“In Queensland, for example, there’s Ipswich or the Sunshine Coast.”