May 06, 2017

Horse 2269 - Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory: The Stupidity of the A-League Finals Series

Please tell me why the Grand Final tomorrow is a thing.

I have never understood why in Australia, after you play a season which lasts for ten months why there is a need to play one more match to find out who the champion is. The regular season already has a league table; surely simple logic says that if you finish at the top of the league, then you should be the winner. How hard is that? The team with the most points at the end of the season wins. 

Yet for some reason which is still hitherto unknown to me, other than the possibility that the administrators of the various sporting codes in Australia think that the general public are more stupid than a cauliflower which has been left on a kitchen bench for six months, we still persist with the notion that the championship must be awarded a grand final.

Consider the regular season:
Sydney FC - Played 27. Won 20. Drew 6. Lost 1. Points 66.
Melbourne Victory - Played 27. Won 15. Drew 4. Lost 8. Points 49.

How hard is that?

Sydney FC, who has ended up with more points than any other team in A-League history, scored more goals than any other team in A-League history and conceded fewer goals than any other team in A-League history, is still forced to prove that it is the champion by playing another championship match. Suppose that Sydney FC does lose tomorrow. Then what? The team which led the entire season is not the champion because they lose one game which by rights should be happening in thfirst place? That's ludicrous.

I can totally understand in a Cup competition where you have teams being knocked out at every phase that you would end up with a final; such is the nature of the beast. A knockout cup where the loser of every match goes home must by definition have only two teams that make it through to the end. The World Cup is also essentially a knockout competition with a series of pools at the beginning.
I can also understand the case in the United State where in a competition like the NFL, where you have the winners of two conferences playing each other for the right to be called the champion. That's like having a a knockout competition with a complicated series of pools at the beginning.
For a league though, where everyone plays everyone else both home and away, then you shouldn't need a finals series. The end of the regular season already gives you a sufficient number of statistics to work with and in the case where two teams end up on the same number of points, you can dig deeper into goal difference or if that is equal, the number of goals scored, which is what happened in the 1988-89 First Division in English Football. A finals series is just plain idiotic beyond that point.

Perhaps it might have made sense when there was no Cup in Australia but now that the FFA Cup has been instituted, a finals series now just looks like a broken pencil - pointless. The FFA Cup should be allowed to take its place in the minds of the public and be allowed to grow in stature like other Cup competitions around the world.

To give you an idea of the level of disdain that I have for finals series, cast your minds back to the 28th of August last year. In the AFL, Fremantle beat the Western Bulldogs by 20 points, to condemn the Bulldogs to 7th on the AFL ladder; yet on the 1st of October, the Western Bulldogs won the Premisership by beating the Sydney Swans who had finished on top of the league ladder in the regular season. Now I don't particularly like the Swans but even I will admit that that is a horrendous travesty. A team which finished 7th does not and should not ever be called champions of anything.

During the 2016-17 regular season of the A-League, Sydney were never pushed out of the top spot of the ladder ever. Their only loss came on the 18th of February at the hands of the Western Sydney Wanderers; apart from that Sydney FC would have gone through the season undefeated. For that to be allowed to be thrown away in just one match, completely devalues the A-League. If Melbourne Victory wins tomorrow, then what in Big Blue blazes was the last eight months for? You may as well as a coach, deliberately try and finish 6th because the league is of zero consequence anyway.

If I was Grand Poobah and Lord High Everything Else, I'd end the A-League season at the end of the A-League season. As Australia gets three places in the AFC Champions League, two sport would be awarded to 1st and 2nd in the league and the other would be awarded to the winner of the FFA Cup.
That makes sense. The A-League should be the league, the FFA Cup should be the cup, and the current finals series should be confined to the dustbin of history like pointless piece of irrelevant stupidity that it is.

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