Football Federation Australia, so boisterous recently about its plan to overtake Australian Rules as the country’s most popular footballing code, can’t then complain about getting no favours from the AFL.
When FFA chief David Gallop stated that aim just a week ago, it was a declaration of war against big brother; ambitious and perhaps overly optimistic but something that drew up the battle lines.
So don’t then whinge when the AFL refuses to budge on moving one of its Round 7 fixtures involving the Western Bulldogs and Fremantle so Etihad can become available for the A-League Grand Final this Sunday afternoon.
The FFA wants Etihad so it can showcase what should be a classic Melbourne vs Sydney encounter in front of the most fans possible, but with the MCG and Etihad required by the AFL they have been forced to use the smaller AAMI Park.
In an ideal world as sport-loving Melburnians we would all love to see each sport played to the biggest available audience, but there is an old expression that says “never give a sucker an even break”, one that the AFL has enforced in this instance.
I think it’s fair to believe the FFA informed the AFL last year that either May 10 or May 17 were going to be the A-League Grand Final dates, so for the AFL to suggest they weren’t made aware of the May 17 date is questionable. But hey, they can play whatever game they like because their responsibility is to their code, not promoting a rival one.
And the Western Bulldogs also have every right to refuse to move their home game against the Dockers. The Doggies are not only battling for a place in the eight but also for a loyal and large fan base that requires a regular home, not being shipped down to Geelong for the weekend.
Sorry soccer, as great as your product is and the Grand Final will hopefully be, you can’t expect a free handball or a perfectly placed through-ball from the AFL. It just doesn’t work that way.