FFA Cup: Why Perth Glory fans need to face reality over final venue

A lot of things in life are unfair, with sport throwing up its fair share of perceived injustices, and the mood amongst Perth Glory fans at the moment is reflective of that.

They have endured a tough few months, with their club booted from the 2014/15 finals for breaching the salary cap, but things have looked up in recent weeks as they reached a second successive FFA Cup Final.

One of the flaws in what is generally a great concept is that the venue for the final is not pre-determined. Of course, in a country as vast as Australia it would be silly to have a single venue like Wembley in England, but giving supporters ten days’ notice of where the game will be played isn’t ideal.

Instead, the idea of a two legged affair has been floated but that is unlikely to fly with Football Federation Australia (FFA) who love their showpiece games.

This week, FFA almost certainly handed the hosting rights for the final to Melbourne when it confirmed that Victory would host the game if they overcome State League side Hume City in the final four.

Should $21 outsiders Hume cause a shock, the final will be held in Perth because, as with anything in business, nib Stadium (capacity 20,500) is the next most profitable option for the governing body after AAMI Park (29,500) or the Etihad Stadium (53,000).

“We have considered all relevant stadiums in Perth and Melbourne and believe we have arrived at a decision that satisfies the criteria of allowing as many people to watch the game either in stadium or on FOX SPORTS,” said the Head of the A-League Damien de Bohun.

This announcement contradicts one of the competition rules which states:

Where matches involve Member Federation clubs only, the first drawn club will be given hosting rights. Where matches involve a Member Federation club and a Hyundai A-League club, the Member Federation club will be given the right to host. Where both clubs involved are Hyundai A-League clubs, the first drawn club will have hosting rights.

However, a very clear caveat to that is placed at the bottom of the FFA Cup FAQs section:

Similar to the Hyundai A-League Grand Final, the venue for the Cup Final will be determined in the interest of FFA, competing clubs, their members and supporters.

Based on de Bohun’s words and the above stipulation, it is highly unlikely that a Member Federation club like Hume City would ever get to host.

While Glory supporters are understandably annoyed over the likelihood of missing out on hosting the final for a second successive year, heat of the moment suggestions on social media like boycotting the FFA Cup next season or sending the youth team over to play in the final aren’t helpful.

The question we have to ask ourselves is whether or not Perth is a better option to host over Melbourne? The reality is no, Perth simply hasn’t shown enough to be deemed more suitable.

Glory’s two home attendances so far this season have been 8145 and 7728 against Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United respectively, while 4165 turned up to the FFA Cup semi-final against Melbourne City.

There are a few of reasons why the figure was so low against City – it was a midweek 6.30pm kick off which isn’t ideal for people who work – but the fact remains that it’s poor showing for such a big game.

Yes, Adelaide United hosted the 2015 final despite pulling a similar crowd for their semi-final against the Central Coast Mariners, but FFA had a very easy out with WA’s time difference unsuitable for a Wednesday night tie.

No doubt there is a massive bandwagon element to sports fans in Perth but, on the flipside, there have been too many negative headlines surrounding Glory in 2015 for a lot of people to fork out to watch them play any game.

The locals had a great opportunity to show their interest in club football in December of last year when the women’s team steamrolled their way to the W-League Grand Final, which was hosted at nib Stadium. Just 2671 bothered to show up.

The argument that the same venue was sold out for the Socceroos’ first visit in a decade holds some weight but at the same time, the national side has been successful in 2015, didn’t break the rules of any competition, and haven’t disenfranchised their supporters in recent years.

Comments have been made about how big a difference having a final in Perth would make to football in the west, and that’s certainly true, but should we really be expecting goodwill gestures just months after the club was found guilty of breaching the salary cap?

It isn’t cheap to travel east from Perth at the best of times, and it gets even worse at short notice as many found out first hand for the 2012 Grand Final when flight prices doubled as soon as the full time whistle went in the preliminary final win over the Central Coast Mariners.

Unfortunately Glory fans will probably be faced with the same scenario this time round, unless Hume City can pull off a miracle tonight.

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Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.