The FFA's Cup Final Conundrum

24/10/2015 6:41 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
Paul Kane via Getty Images
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Guyon Fernandez of the Glory brings down Connor Chapman of Melbourne during the FFA Cup Semi Final match between Perth Glory and Melbourne City FC at nib Stadium on October 21, 2015 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The debate over where the Football Federation Australia Cup Final should be held has once again exposed the precarious balancing act the FFA has to perform between revenue and what's good for the game.

The semi-finals pitted Perth Glory against Melbourne City, and Hume City against Melbourne Victory. Before Wednesday night's clash between City and Glory, the FFA might just quietly have been crossing their fingers for a City win, which would more than like raise the prospect of a Melbourne Derby grand final.

However, it's not just the prospect of a Melbourne Derby grand final and the full Etihad stadium and TV audiences which would have had the FFA on edge -- but not wanting to repeat an ugly rift between the FFA and the Glory.

A 3-1 win to Perth Glory against Melbourne City put those dreams on hold, however.


First, a disclosure.

For some bizzare reason, despite 10 years of unrelenting mediocrity I still pull on the purple every weekend.

So I, along with thousands of others, was outraged at the conclusion of last year's FFA Cup campaign -- when Adelaide United were drawn against Perth Glory -- that the final went to Adelaide.

The final was not awarded on merit or the flip of a coin, but rather that a final in Adelaide would draw a bigger crowd and be in a friendlier time slot -- with suspicions raised by Glory boss Tony Sage that Perth was never actually considered as a final host to begin with.

A commercial imperative had simply overridden any issue of fairness or merit. Perth fans were disgruntled, but far from surprised by the admission.

With a three-hour time delay, a final during midweek would be impossible, with a less-than-friendly 4.30 pm kick off in the west equating to a 7.30 pm kick off in the major TV market for the A-League, namely the east coast of Australia.

However, with the final now on a Saturday, Perth fans are holding out hope that an earlier kick off time in the west could work.

Far from this being an anti-east coast rant from a disgruntled sandgroper, the debate over where the final should be held demonstrates a wider story. This is not just about whether Perth should host the final or not, but a story about the precarious financial position the FFA finds itself in.

The recent pay dispute with the PFA has laid bare the somewhat precarious position the organising body has found itself in.

It has revamped its commercial department in recent years, including the hiring of Luke Bould from Cricket Australia, to try and find additional sources of revenue for the game. However, with a wide remit, the FFA has found its outflows rather high in comparison to its revenue.

So can you imagine a scenario where the organising body would turn down 35,000-plus at Etihad Stadium over a non-guaranteed full house at nib Stadium, which has a capacity of 20,000?

Glory's chances were not given a boost by the crowd figure on Wednesday night, which turned out to be a shade over 4000. Perth fans would grumble as normal, but the FFA would be remiss to turn down the extra revenue potential and the extra buzz the game would generate by being held in Melbourne.

Perth Glory confirmed it had made a submission to the organising body before the semi-final kicked off, and the hope is that a new CEO at the club may signal a thawing in relations between the two parties -- which would have no doubt been ice-cold after chairman Tony Sage took to the Supreme Court over last season's salary cap scandal.

It argued that a showpiece event such as the FFA Cup final would do wonders for the game in Perth, a town where the Dockers and Eagles finished one and two during the AFL season.

It's hard to argue with the logic on this one.

The FFA Cup was created for the purpose of reuniting the grassroots of football with the upper echelons. What better way to demonstrate that the governing body intends to be inclusive than attempting to reunite with fans who are skeptical of it at best and have been turned away from the sport during the last decade.

A showpiece event in the west would have the potential of bringing out fans who have left the game, and those who had not considered going to a Glory game before.

An event against Melbourne Victory in Melbourne (which looks more than likely) would be a wonderful occasion, but wouldn't win over any new fans.

The FFA has a pretty interesting week ahead as it weighs up a decision between revenue it so badly needs and an occasion the west so badly needs.

More On This Topic