Hearing is believing

by Teo Pellizzeri on May 19, 2011

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Unfortunately our game has moved into the realm of "believe everything you hear". It's not the sort of place you want to be when just about everything you hear is trending toward the apocalyptic.

The FFA's plans to deliver a studs-up reducer to grass-roots clubs in Victoria went public today after at least a couple of months of scuttlebutt around various circles that it would force Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart to withdraw from the Victorian knock-out Mirabella Cup competition.

Having heard the rumour from a good source, I debated whether or not to blog or Tweet about the prospect of it and decided against.

Too alarmist, need more sources, don't want to come across like a conspiracy theorist. Well I'll be the first to put my hand up and admit I failed to act when I should have gone further.

Related News: FFA order Victory, Heart out of Mirabella Cup

Victoria is now left with a severely compromised Mirabella Cup, one that had failed to win over the hearts and minds of grass roots clubs given how soon before the start of the Victorian state league season it was announced. A number of clubs from provisional one level down opted not to enter given how disruptive additional fixtures would be, never mind additional match payments and expenses and of course the entry fee.

The justifier, the carrot and the nation-wide exposure of playing Melbourne Victory or Melbourne Heart is now gone. Just as we were getting close to the point where both those names would go in the hat and be pulled out like winning lotto tickets for two grass-roots clubs. Never mind the logistics of re-arranging a knock-out competition with two additional holes, the main reason a number of clubs entered this competition is now gone. Yes, there's a cup and $50,000 prize money allegedly waiting for the winner, but it's small-fry compared to the prospect of playing Melbourne Victory in front of a crowd of 5-10,000 or more.

Some VPL players I know, whose clubs got the luxury of byes through to the fourth round of competition, didn't want a bar of the Mirabella Cup and considered it a joke. Unfortunately they are vindicated today.

This paragraph from Michael Lynch's report in The Age stands out.
"The peak body fears that its own efforts to set up a nationwide FFA Cup - modelled on the English competition - next year could be compromised by the Victorian tournament. It doesn't want the Victorian competition to erode its chances of gaining significant sponsorship revenue and media coverage."
I think regardless of other reasons we are given as to why the two A-League teams were bounced out is window dressing. This here is the real reason.

Of course, the FFV aren't angels when it comes to cannibalising the hard work of smaller bodies to gain sponsorship. When the FFV introduced its summer competition, now named the Victorian Champions League, in 2007, it did something similar. One zone "club" attained exclusive sponsorship from a powerhouse national brand with its roots in the zone it was sponsoring. When the FFV heard about the size and status of the deal, it tried to slip in between and get the sponsor to take on the entire competition. People in Victorian football will tell you this isn't an isolated case.

Still, it seems ridiculous that the FFA is running scared of the Mirabella Cup. At most, five pre-season stature fixtures involving Victory and Heart. There has been romance and David-Goliath struggles so far - last time I checked Ballarat Red Devils, Keilor Park and Cobram Victory didn't need to play against A-League opposition to be considered David.

But the even bigger concern is that the rumour mill in our game is in form and on the money.

That, based on what I've heard, doesn't bode well for everything that's not the A-League. And even then.

Today for me, gives legitimacy to rumours I'm hearing about the W-League. A couple of good sources told me prior to December 3 that regardless of if Australia was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup or not, the W-League wasn't coming back.

The effect the W-League has had on the performances of our women's players, winning the Asian Cup, hopefully a good performance at the upcoming Women's World Cup, would be a non-factor. Well we don't have 2022 coming and everything I've heard since about the W-League returning to the park has been negative.

This time, I hope I'm being an alarmist and I hope I'm dead wrong.

But that's all it is, hope.