The FFA Cup Final: When Commercial and Competitve Needs Collide

BY BOZZA

“The FFA has got this decision completely wrong. It’s a slap in the face to all Sydney FC fans,” Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow told reporters, after it was announced that the FFA Cup Final between Sydney FC and Melbourne City would be played at AAMI Park.

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Barlow has a fair point, but you can imagine that Melbourne City would make similar complaints if Allianz Stadium in Sydney had been announced as the venue for the decider. After Perth Glory made its displeasure known at having to travel to play the first two finals, it’s time for the FFA to review how it decides hosting rights. The Sportress puts forward our thoughts on a couple of options the FFA should consider:

                                                                                                                                                                            

CURRENT MODEL

Currently the FFA decides the venue completely arbitrarily once the finalists are known, this is done to maximise the commercial benefits from the match. Unsurprisingly, as it is a system that values the commercial over the competitive, it’s a model that leaves one team incensed each year.

PERFORMANCE BASED

In the latter years of the old AFL night series, they began using a performance based model to decide the location of the Final, perhaps something like that could be used in the FFA Cup. In this system, each team has the ability to earn hosting rights. The nature of the competition, where semi-professional and full-time professionals compete on level terms, could see consternation based on the perceived ease of one teams path to the final compared to the other.

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PREDETERMINED LOCATION

Many Cup Competitions like the UEFA Champions League determine cities bid for the right to host the tournaments showpiece game. Allowing them to select a venue and announce the location of the final before the competition begins. This means before teams kick a ball in anger they know where their coronation ceremony for the victors will take place.

I believe ideally this is the perfect system in the long term for the competition, however at the minute commercial realities make it unfeasible.

DAVIS CUP MODEL

In the Davis Cup, the competing countries meet each other on an alternating home and away basis. What does that mean? Australia were drawn to meet the US in this year’s tournament and they did battle in Melbourne. Thus, the next time the two old foes are drawn to meet one another, they will meet on the courts of America.

I think this would work well for the FFA Cup, if applied throughout the tournament when A-League teams meet. A list could be produced, using previous meetings from tournaments to date and a random draw for match ups yet to take place, to identify where opponents would meet in the event of them being drawn together.

                                                                                                                                                                            

FFA, when both competing teams have letters of complaint ready, depending on which way you lean, your model is unworkable.

I think in time the Predetermined Model would be the model of choice but I feel it is too early for this option. For example, the Brisbane Roar average crowds of 12,850 for their home games. While many fans would travel from interstate, how many Queenslanders would file into Suncorp to watch Melbourne City take on Sydney FC?

I could see a performance based model has some things going for it but ultimately is let down by the potential unevenness of opposition faced by both finalists.

In my mind the Davis Cup model is the best solution for now, balancing both the competitive and the commercial, it is a compromise between the Current Model and the Predetermined Model. As it is both predetermined but also relying on chance, it takes the guess work out of the equation and any suggestion of “slaps to fans faces”.

A competing team would host the final, meaning the opportunity of a full house, and it also adds the potential for some interest and intrigue for supporters as their team’s opponent is decided. Let’s say this format was in place this year and Sydney FC had last played City in Sydney and Victory in Melbourne. You could see Sydney FC fans cheering loudly for their bitterest foe, Melbourne Victory, as a win for the navy side of Melbourne would result an Allianz Stadium Final.

Whatever happens in future years, commercial needs should not outweigh the competitive, and the venue for the 2016 Final should be the last decided in the current manner.

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