APL’s spin doctoring insults Australian football fans’ intelligence – and might well be the last straw


There are few more positive, hopeful and less cynical of the game of football in Australia than me. At times, it can be a flaw.

Sure, criticism is due when deserved, yet from this set of eyeballs, growth remains incremental and destined to see football become something rather special in the long term.

At times that growth stalls, or even regresses, yet as we have seen since the COVID-19 pandemic, where there were grave fears for many sporting organisations, codes, businesses and industries, the fans will return to a product they love and the A-Leagues have been examples of that fact.

The A-League Women is riding a wave of support that has played out in season 2023-24 in the form of a 62 per cent increase in attendance.

The men’s competition has also done well in terms of bums on seats, with Western United and Macarthur slowly beginning to build followings and crowds holding steady despite worrying seasons for Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets, and a Wanderers supporter base that has chosen to stay away in protest in large numbers.

If not for the dire straits in the Hunter and a more consistent presence of the Western Sydney fan-base, the attendance figures would read pleasingly and in conjunction with the football we have seen on the pitch, could potentially have made for one of the best A-League seasons on record.

Wanderers fans before the Sydney Derby incident that led to more protests (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Instead, we came into the current season off the back of the APL’s attempt to sell of the grand final for an extended period to make up what we now realise is a serious financial shortfall existing in the foundations of the A-Leagues.

In addition, a rather poorly executed website that promised everything and provided little was demolished after millions had been spent in attempting to make it cutting edge and at the pointy end of sports content.

In the process of both, the APL, supposedly the saviour of Australian football after the ‘unbundling’ of the game and the independence it established away from Football Australia, sprouted nonsense and spin to the fans.

The grand final was supposedly to become part of a rather ridiculous ‘Festival of Football’, where people would apparently drop everything the moment their team qualified for the decider and book expensive flights and accommodation in Sydney.

Cut the crap. It was a $12 million deal with New South Wales tourism that motivated the deal and the fans were the most significant of afterthoughts.

The website was a farce from day one and something I never could manage to get a handle on. It was clunky, disorganised and a far cry from the previous A-League site that fans of the domestic game once navigated with ease on a weekly basis.

Rather ironically, the new site, www.aleagues.com.au, is a blast from the past. If only the game could get back the reported $40 million that was pumped into the digital arm.

Once again, the APL failed to front up to the public honestly, amidst the website’s closure and near half the staff at APL losing their positions early in 2024.

Instead, it was bullshit at three paces again from the APL, as they sprouted that the layoffs were “necessary to capitalise on significant opportunities to create efficiencies through consolidation.”

Give me a break. Do not treat me like an idiot.

It was difficult to fathom when just a few short months back the actual A-League match broadcasts came under threat with the entry into administration of Global Advance. The APL suffered yet another embarrassment that they simply shirked off with assurances that everything would be fine and a load of codswallop that would have even impressed Donald Trump.

A-League fans were nearly prevented from watching on TV until NEP stepped in. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Next came the decision to can the Dolan-Warren Awards this week, with a quick acknowledgement of the game’s best male and female players in the domestic competitions set to occur at half-time during the respective grand finals.

Once again, more garbage spewed from the APL spin doctors: “This year we wanted to bring the awards closer to fans and give them a platform to be celebrated during the biggest games of the year.”

Spare me days, where do I collect the vomit bucket?

As much as I believe in the A-Leagues and the wonderful football we see on the pitch, it is high time those in charge of the game stopped treating us all like fools and actually gave us the explanations we deserve without the spin and nonsense that, quite frankly, insults our intelligence.

The solution? Go to the APL website. Make a list of the board members names and seek them out. Bombard them on X, Facebook and by mail.

Call them out and demand they show a little more respect to the people that support the game without lying through their teeth each week.

I’m doing it and so should you.

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