BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Rugby league is set for the fight of its life in Sydney’s South West with new A-League club Macarthur FC preparing an all-out assault on the region and funnily enough – the talk of football returning its top flight league to winter would work for the A-League… not against it.
Many fans of the A-League and experts alike believe it would be suicide to go up against winter giants of Australian sport – NRL and AFL.
Television ratings and interest diminished long before COVID-19 came around.
The A-League needs a shot in the arm.
A minority believe football (or soccer) should return to winter and that minority includes the likes of Simon Hill and Lucy Zelić.
“By now it’s glaringly obvious that the A-League needs to switch to winter for MANY reasons,” Zelić tweeted on Thursday night.
“The players want it, we’re all enjoying the quality & as long as we’ve got decent pitches on offer, who gives a stuff about competing with other codes. Just give the people good football.”
Speaking on SEN recently, Hill argued that a move away from summer ‘aligns the A-League with Asia’.
“We’ve got to have enough confidence in our game to stand up and say, ‘look we’re gonna play the A-League at this time of the year and we don’t care what you’re doing.’”
It couldn’t get any worse for the A-League as it stands.
You have to restart somewhere.
NRL fans reading this will scoff at such talk.
But while it seems an impossible dream in a stacked sporting market, one A-League club that would drool at the idea is Macarthur FC.
A winter A-League season would put them up against Wests Tigers. The rugby league nomads with home grounds at Campbelltown, Leichhardt and Parramatta. A head office at Concord with a leagues club at Ashfield who have also taken home games to the Sydney Football Stadium, Homebush, Christchurch, Auckland, Tamworth and Gosford in their twenty-year existence.
Currently, Wests Tigers play only a handful of games at Campbelltown per season.
Most of their players live in the city.
Wests Tigers are also building a centre of excellence in Concord.
If nothing else, we’ll see Wests Tigers spend more of their marketing budget on Campbelltown and surrounding areas in the future.
Macarthur FC have so far signed four players for their first season which starts in December. All four have represented Australia including Mark Milligan and Adam Federici.
Their coach, Ante Milicic, just stood down as Matildas boss after two years in charge to concentrate on his duties at the new organisation.
The Bulls, as their known, are building.
Community support is swelling.
Of all the A-League clubs, a winter season would be the most advantageous for Macarthur FC.
They’ll basically have run of the place all year round.
For now, they start their first campaign in December.
Interesting times ahead for sport in Sydney’s South West.