Fan reaction understandable: Moss
Former football player and coach Phil Moss understands the fan reaction to the decision to sell the A-League grand finals to Sydney.
The Australian Professional Leagues, which runs the A-League competitions, announced on Monday morning that it had sold hosting rights for grand finals over the next three years as part of a deal with the New South Wales government’s tourism body.
The decision has attracted intense backlash from fans, with active support groups promising walkouts and boycotts until the commitment is reversed.
Moss, currently the president of Football Coaches Australia and part of the Network Ten/Paramount+ commentary team, said he was disappointed the decision had divided the game.
“My immediate reaction was it was a financial decision by the clubs, to inject more capital into the game, so I understand it from both sides,” Moss told Sports Breakfast.
“I understand why fans are annoyed, angry, the vitriol in the social media and the media has been quite strong, and that’s what we love about our game, fans are passionate, fans make the game.
“Also understand it from APL’s point of view, trying to make a financial decision. How it was put across, with time again, maybe it would’ve been sold differently to the fans, but it’s at a standoff at the moment, something has to happen … I’d be surprised if the decision is reversed, but you’ve seen stranger things.”
The former Central Coast Mariners coach believes the passion of football fans stands it apart from other codes around the world.
“When decisions are made that fans don’t believe in, they don’t believe they’re in the best interests of the game or the fans, then they will speak up,” he said.
“Seeing the clubs talking against each other and running for cover, who did vote, who didn’t vote, that’s not where we want to be as a game.
“The saddest thing about this is it’s really taken the gloss off the Socceroos performance at the World Cup, and coming back to Australia from Qatar, I was so looking forward to riding that wave of momentum with everyone and seeing how that seeped into the A-League … and then this broke on Monday morning and it’s really detracted big time from that momentum and goodwill.”
Moss does not expect the APL to backflip on the decision, which CEO Danny Townsend has been defending in a number of media appearances.
“I don’t know how it doesn’t remain this way, unless they find an alternative that would satisfy the contract, the legal contract that’s obviously been signed by Destination New South Wales and the APL,” he said.
“I’m not saying it’s the perfect solution and fans will obviously remain disappointed and upset, but the ultimate goal is we need to find a way to move forward, whatever way that is, whether it’s rescinded and overturned or whether it stays as it is, we need to find a way to move forward, because there’s no alternative to having an A-League in Australia.”
Multiple club owners including Glory owner Tony Sage claimed the APL announced the move without their input or agreement, but the decision was ratified by a majority of owners at an emergency meeting on Tuesday night.