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Ron Manager

formerly Libertine
Jan 21, 2007
Brisbane, Australia
Here is an article from a Queensland Roar fans website I go on now and again. They go into the last game of the regular season (they have playoffs, or 'finals' over there) with 4 teams (out of 8 in the league) level on points at the top of the table. Quite an amazing finish, half of the league going into the final game with a real chance of finishing top...

"We can say what we like about the A League, but saying its predictable is not one of them.

Comparisons between the A League and some of Europe’s best competitions are inevitable, whether it be the standard of the players, the tactical and technical styles deployed, or even the names of the club, the A league will always be placed side by side with those Leagues and will almost always come off second best.

However, this term (embarrassingly dubbed ‘Version 3’), can lay claim to a title that the EPL, La Liga or Serie A could only dream of and that’s a title race that is anybody’s guess.

Most of the worlds top competitions suffer from their own success, with the top clubs only getting better as each year evolves. This unfortunately leads to them collecting the finances that will fund even further achievements, leaving an even greater gap between the winners and the losers of their respective competitions.

For example, since the inception of the EPL in the early 90’s, only four different teams have taken home the League title. In Spain, you are almost guaranteed that in the modern era, either Barcelona or Real Madrid will almost always be in the running. In Italy, the end of season winner is equally as predictable, although that is as much to do with who is paying off which match referee, but even the corruption seems to be dominated by the same teams each year!

Now that’s not to take anything away from the entertainment that these leagues provide, however, that entertainment is often contained to the 90 minutes that the game is played in as opposed to the entertainment provided over the course of the season. In most cases, the educated masses will almost always be within an inch of predicting the teams who will win, who will stay in the safety of mid table and the teams who will be fighting out a relegation battle at the close of the season.

That’s where the early days of the A League are different, more so this season.

Currently, as the A League enters it’s final round of matches there are 4 teams from an 8 team competition sitting on top of the table and are all vying for elbow space, with only goal difference separating them.

Holding top spot by their fingertips is Queensland Roar with a GD of 6. Biting at their heels with a GD of 4 is Sydney FC. Propping up the top four are Central Coast and Newcastle who are each sharing a GD of 3, with Central Coast pipping them with a more favourable Goals Scored.

A further demonstration of the unpredictability of the Australian top flight is that the two finalist from last term (Melbourne and Adelaide) find themselves outside of the top four with the league title long since out of reach. We can only imagine the hysteria if Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea were to ever find themselves in the same position as these two unfortunate Australian Clubs!

It doesn’t end there, as predicting the last round of A League fixtures will prove as difficult to foresee as the league itself, with the top four teams each playing the bottom four teams this coming weekend.

Generally, it would be easy to decide who will take home the 3 points from a round of fixtures so late in the season, with bottom teams assumed to be easy picking for those sitting on the top floor of the league table. However, once again, on current form there are no guarantees in the A League with each of the bottom four teams (Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Wellington) demonstrating throughout the season and even more so in the latter stages that they are not to be intimidated by placement.

The structures that have led to this finale are open to debate, some may say that a salary cap provides for a level playing field. Others may argue that the shared income arrangement of a Franchised football association has dictated a competitive club competition. However, what all supporters will agree on now is that a league competition can provide just as much excitement and volatility as a finals series, so maybe, on the back of this season, the FFA and importantly the media will give the League Winners as much accolade as would be adorned to the team who win the final itself.

However such discussions are no doubt far from the supporters mind at this point in time, as they nervously await the outcome of what will be a dramatic 21 rounds of top flight football. May the best team win, being biased, I would hope that that team is Queensland Roar!"