January 30, 2023

Socceroos star Craig Goodwin has lashed out at the A-League for agreeing a deal to play the next three men’s and women’s finals in Sydney.

In a break from A-League tradition, the highest ranked team no longer earns the right to receive the season decider. The NSW government has reportedly earmarked an eight-figure sum to secure hosting rights from 2023.

The league faced backlash from fans and players alike, with Goodwin, featured in the promotional video accompanying the announcement, the most prominent figure to speak out.

Western United celebrate winning last season's grand final, which was held at Melbourne's AAMI Park.  Fans have been asking how the new arrangement will play out as two non-Sydney teams take part in the biggest game of the year

Western United celebrate winning last season’s grand final, which was held at Melbourne’s AAMI Park. Fans have been asking how the new arrangement will play out as two non-Sydney teams take part in the biggest game of the year

‘I don’t support it [the decision]. I’m a player, but I’m also a fan,” he tweeted.

“The fans are the most precious thing in football and as we have seen from the support across the country for the Socceroos at the World Cup, they are the ones who create the atmosphere and culture, and what makes the game great.

“Like many fans across the country, and as I said, I too am disappointed with this decision.”

In a statement on Monday, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) said the move “is designed to develop an engaging grand finals experience” for fans.

Last season, Melbourne Victory clinched the A-League Women's title by beating Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium (pictured).  Fans have overturned the decision to flip the sport's finals system on its head

Last season, Melbourne Victory clinched the A-League Women’s title by beating Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium (pictured). Fans have overturned the decision to flip the sport’s finals system on its head

“Football fans now get the best of both worlds,” APL CEO Danny Townsend said in the statement.

“They can now look forward to a grand finals event at a fixed venue, and watch A-Leagues and national team stars on their local A-Leagues team week in and week out.

“This is a unique opportunity to build a tradition for football fans.

Socceroos star Craig Goodwin lashed out at the decision to hold the grand final in Sydney

Socceroos star Craig Goodwin lashed out at the decision to hold the grand final in Sydney

Goodwin said the decision was made without regard to fans' interests

Goodwin said the decision was made without regard to fans’ interests

Some supporters were dismayed that the news would rob the sport of the chance to capitalize on the tidal wave of support over Australia's stellar run at the World Cup

Some supporters were dismayed that the news would rob the sport of the chance to capitalize on the tidal wave of support over Australia’s stellar run at the World Cup

“When you think of a Cup final in England, you think of the trip to Wembley, and we want fans in Australia to look forward to the A-Leagues final in the same way.”

But criticism of the decision has come thick and fast.

Melbourne Victory striker Maja Markovski called the move a ‘Big L’ ([loss]on Instagram, before the club released a statement confirming it maintained its preference to “play every grand final” [that we earn the right to host] for our fans at AAMI Park.

Fans weren't the only ones excited about the move to Sydney (pictured), with Socceroos player Craig Goodwin also admitting he doesn't like the move

Fans weren’t the only ones excited about the move to Sydney (pictured), with Socceroos player Craig Goodwin also admitting he doesn’t like the move

Fans shared their outrage at the move on social media immediately after the announcement.

What a way to kill all the momentum gathered by a great World Cup [World Cup]. All new fans in the A-League are coming in on their own as this decision will have hurt so many current fans. There are so many reasons why this is a terrible decision and yet I can’t think of a single good one. Farce,” wrote Gerald Lynch.

“The A-League Grand Final is an event that is already struggling to stand on its own without the involvement of Melbourne Victory, Western Sydney Wanderers or Sydney FC. This is such a bad outcome for the event. How would Melbourne City v Western United have gone at Allianz?!’ asked Rudi Esdall, referring to Allianz Stadium, the most likely venue for the six deciders.

“Pretty sure ‘immediately pissing football fans across the country’ is not what people had in mind when they said the A-League should capitalize on the Socceroos $FIFAWorldCup success,” added Mark Gottlieb.

Fans worry about rows of empty seats at the grand finals if no Sydney teams take part (pictured, the crowd at last Saturday's clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix)

Fans worry about rows of empty seats at the grand finals if no Sydney teams take part (pictured, the crowd at last Saturday’s clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Wellington Phoenix)

No ALW Grand Finals have ever been moved outside the home city of the team that won hosting rights, but three times since the inaugural ALM Grand Finals, the decider has been held away from the host team’s regular home stadium.

In the first of those instances, Central Coast and Newcastle played to the lowest grand final crowds of the league’s first nine seasons at Sydney Football Stadium.

The Mariners and Western Sydney drew a respectable crowd of 42,102 to the same ground when they faced each other in 2013.

On the most recent occasion, Sydney FC drew just 7051 fans to CommBank Stadium after a COVID-ravaged 2020 season.

Next year’s ALW final is scheduled for April 30, with the ALM decider on June 3.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *