Finals must be scrapped in an expanded A-League

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The concept of a finals series may be uncommon to those involved in football abroad, but in Australia it is something enriched in the game’s history.

Derbies aside, finals galvanise the most interest in the A-League and rightly so.

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Claiming the ultimate silverware at times coming in to rescue what was a tired end to a 27-round season.

While finals have played an important role in the A-League’s history, it should not in its future.

Eradicating the finals will not be done to fit with the rest of the world but for the betterment of league, allowing a greater emphasis to be placed in other areas such as the FFA Cup and qualification into the AFC Champions League.

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As far as who wins the league goes, football traditionalists would tell you the premiers should always be celebrated and recognised as the best team of the season.

While A-League fans acknowledge this, the finals prevent it from being accepted.

Despite finishing fourth and 23 points off first it was Melbourne Victory who ‘won it’ last season, not Sydney FC.

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What Melbourne Victory accomplished deserves to be celebrated for they became the first team to win the Championship from fourth albeit is it right that this is valued more than what Sydney FC achieved?

The system places greater emphasis on the sprint rather than the marathon in addition to providing a false sense of fulfilment to those who scrape into the top six in a ten-team competition.

As mentioned earlier, moving away with a finals series could amplify the significance of qualifying for the AFC Champions League.

Under the current system qualification into the AFC Champions League is more of an afterthought than an achievement, which is of major concern considering the A-League is in danger of losing one automatic entry.

In doing so it seems logical teams would be incentivised to greater extents to succeed in the AFC Champions League and gives the A-League a greater opportunity to create a stronger presence in Asia.

An alternative to the top six model could be a top three which rewards first and second with automatic qualification into the AFC Champions League and third with a play-off spot, replacing sixth spot with third as the league’s benchmark for a successful season.

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Further, removing the finals series can allow for the FFA Cup to grow through becoming the country’s sole cup competition.

The FFA Cup undoubtedly has a significant role in the future of Australian football, being integral in uniting football at a professional and grassroots level.

Its potential was recognised in the most recent edition which saw large crowds congregate at suburban grounds throughout Australia, leaving a positive atmosphere and outlook on football.

The final between Adelaide and Sydney was everything a final should be and was a perfect end to the best edition of the competition so far, but the prestige of the tournament is limited.

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In removing the finals, the FFA Cup can flourish through being marketed as the ultimate finals series which could see increased attendances across levels of the competition.

Expansion is the catalyst towards such change for while eradicating the finals now would appease some, it would hurt the A-League.

Housing only ten teams the finals series is the shot in the arm the league needs every season but given where the league and football is headed finals could be something best left in the past.

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Athos Sirianos
Athos Sirianos
RMIT Journalism | Football Nation Radio Like all football fans my general mood for the week is dictated by how my team performs over the weekend.

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