Over the past few seasons fans have called for the ‘FFA Cup’ concept to become a reality, well yesterday the first steps were taken as David Gallop announced the this will commence in 2014, but very little else is known about the format.
An Australian Day final has already been floated by Gallop and whilst the idea is romantic with those at board level I see this as their first mistake. The Melbourne v Sydney games worked tremendously well this season, with one game in Melbourne and one in Sydney. The FFA will only be shooting themselves in the foot if Australia day is reserved for the stand alone fixture of the cup final. Fans around the country want to be involved in football on our nation’s day, and a day crammed with A-Leagues fixtures should remain.
January isn’t a great time for some of the would be competing state level clubs either, with most in the middle of their preseason for their winter competitions. A week after the conclusion of the season (similar to England) would be far more suitable for all clubs involved.
Now we have the biggest problem the competition faced, distance. With over 700 teams tipped to be involved over both Australia and New Zealand a knock out completion from the outset is both impractical and unfeasible; this is why I have come up with the following format for our “FFA Cup”.
Entry: Would be available for ALL clubs across Australian and New Zealand to enter, with preliminary rounds held in each state/territory. The amount of rounds held would be determined by the amount of teams entered in regards to the qualification places available.
Divisions: Due to the nature of the competition and the geographical area that would be needed to be covered I have divided the competition into divisions in the preliminary rounds. Each state/territory in Australia would have their own division, and New Zealand would be represented by the North and South Islands.
Available places: All 10 A-League teams would enter at the 64 team stage (Round 1) so this would leave 54 places available to the non A-League teams. I looked at both 128 teams (too expensive for both clubs and FFA) and 32 (not enough opportunities for clubs to compete against A-League clubs).
The 64 teams would be drawn out at random, with no seedings; this would take place on Fox Football. The first team read out will host the match, including the final; the FFA would be able to use a clause that would allow a smaller team to ‘sell’ any potential match against an A-League opponent. This would only be completed if both teams are in agreement.
The 64 places
10 – A-League clubs 9 – Victoria
10 – New South Wales 6 – South Australia
7 – Queensland 6 – Western Australia
2 – Tasmania 2 – Northern Territory
2 – Australian Capital Territory 5 – North Island (NZ)
5 – South Island (NZ)
The 54 places would be subject to the selection criteria of the FFA and would be based on both the number of entries, the development of the game and previous cup results. If the A-League was to increase the amount of teams in the league the amount of places would obviously decrease.
The competition will throw up many surprises and will see the game continue to grow in both Australia and New Zealand. The preliminary rounds would commence in July/August of the previous season and the 64 team stage would begin in December/January.
Obviously this is only one of many formats that could be used for the FFA Cup, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section, or create a blog of your own and send it into email@example.com