Right now, I think the current “1 size fits all” approach to the A-league, based on a salary cap, the requirement to use the best available facilities (whether you can afford to, or can fill it, or not) isn`t working so well.
First, the success stories – Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United, Wellington Phoenix, CCM, SFC, Perth Glory … It all looks quite stable here (now – there have been tough times everywhere at some point). The Jets and the Qld clubs? not so good.
All season fans have worried about crowd numbers and financial sustainability. When all we want to obsess about is the footy. A lot of good footy websites now spend as much time discussing how teams are run as what happens on the pitch. Such is life.
So I figure the A-league has two choices, go socialist or free market – let the team`s market decide what kind of team it can have there.
The A-league already has some socialist traits – equally shared TV money, the FFA taking Finals revenue and sharing some of it with the clubs, the early control of club strips. But I think 1 more step is needed to go fully socialist – the sharing of gate receipts. The NFL does it, the English First Division (the name before they split off to become the Premier league) did it. The idea is that we all sink or swim, together. I would expect the Victory, Phoenix and SFC to not like this. They have been smart, been lucky, worked hard – why would they want to share more than they do now?
The other choice – the free market choice would be letting clubs give up on stadiums they can`t afford. It would see clubs getting no-where near spending the salary cap. At its most extreme, you might see a club playing out of a stadium that can hold 10,000, with a team that costs half that of the high fliers. It would essentially be a state league team playing in the A-league, with the same expectations of success (none). It would also be a financially sustainable club. What`s that?
Some A-league clubs already look like this? Well, yeah, the A-league currently has elements of both of these models. The clubs with marquees, marquee lites and those without. Very free market. Most of last year`s NQ squad looked state league quality. They still spent more than they could afford. There is still an expectation that the clubs would grow together, have similar player budgets, that every team`s fans would have hope for success.
Those are the choices methinks. Both have elements that are not easy to accept.