Friday, July 6, 2007

Living Up to Expectation

It's official, David Beckham's LA Galaxy will travel to Sydney to play SFC on November the 27th.

Along with the announcement came a lot of hype, the Football Federation of Australia was quick to point out that profits from the game will go to the entire league, in fact it appears (reading between the lines) that this is a game organised by the FFA and LA Galaxy, not Sydney FC and LA Galaxy as you would usually expect in a friendly between two club teams.

In my view the FFA is starting to overstep it's authority. There comes a point where the governing body needs to step back and let the clubs control themselves. You don't want to end up like the AFL where the clubs can't so much as breathe without AFL approval. The English Premier League is a much better example, of where the system works well. The FA (who run the EPL) know their place. They let the clubs control themselves, sure they step in when required and they never let anything get out of hand, but the clubs are allowed to make their own decisions, and run themselves. They simply provide a competition, in which they can compete.

Prehaps I am being harsh, after all the FFA's involvement in this decision has resulted in what will be a fantastic occasion for Australian football. Unfortunately I think the hype around the game may lead to dissapointment, and prehaps criticism, if the game doesn't live up to expectations.

One article described the match as 'a guaranteed sell-out', considering that the Socceroos recent game at Telstra Stadium was 15,000 people away from selling out, on a Saturday night, selling out the stadium for a Sydney FC game on a Tuesday night is, for me, unlikely. No doubt there will be a good crowd at the game, and anything over 50,000 would, and should be viewed as, impressive. However considering the hype surrounding the game, many may end up looking at this sort of crowd and saying it is a massive dissapointment.

Something that excites me is that Network Ten will be showing the game live nationwide in High Definition. Live, Nationwide free-to-air coverage is something that both AFL and NRL have struggled with, and for football this is a major statement. It was reported that Ten have paid a fair bit of money to show the game, obviously they expect it to rate. The question must be asked, what if it doesn't rate highly? I'd say there is a good chance the ratings won't be that high, probably because people aren't going to watch an entire match just because of one player (Mr. Beckham). The worry is that Ten will see these ratings, and think that it reflects badly on football, when in reality there would probably be a lot more games that would get higher ratings, if given a chance on FTA. I guess there is also the hope that the game pulls really big ratings, if it does, then you can probably look forward to a big more footy on FTA in the future.

One more issue to consider is how the game will actually play out. Can Sydney beat the Galaxy? Will it at least be a close contest? I guess this is tough to predict, after all being only a friendly it is tough to predict how seriously the game will be taken, let alone the form that the teams will be in at the time. Many have been critical of the choice to play this game in Sydney, against Sydney FC, rather than in Melbourne against the A-league champions. To me this doesn't really matter, it seems obvious that Sydney were the ones pushing for this game, and good on them for getting what they set out to do. I certainly hope this starts a trend though, I'd love to see a few more international teams in Australia to take on A-league sides in the future - apparently EPL teams are interested, now that would be something to get excited about.

For football's sake, let's hope Sydney v LA can live up to expectations, but I think you'll agree, that we shouldn't be focusing too much on one game, when what is really important is the success of the A-league and all of it's clubs.

Bye for Now,
Matt

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