The players have spoken and the message is loud and clear: scheduling for the A-League needs to change as soon as possible to get rid of the longest off-season in world football.
Daily Mail Australia attended the league’s official 2022/23 launch in Melbourne on Tuesday and the feedback was unanimous – the current gap in between seasons is ‘ridiculous’ and must be reduced if the code is to enjoy a renaissance Down Under.
The likes of cult hero Socceroo Jason Cummings, Brisbane Roar striker Charlie Austin and Western United veteran Alessandro Diamanti all voiced their frustration at the huge gap in between competitive fixtures.
Last season finished with the grand final on May 28, with this campaign due to kick off on October 7 – a gap of more than four months.
‘It has been a long pre-season, the boys are keen to get stuck in,’ Central Coast Mariners striker and Socceroos World Cup hopeful Cummings told Daily Mail Australia.
‘If it was up to me, I would have started a couple of months ago. I’m buzzing it is finally here, but come the middle of summer, I am going to be sweating on the pitch, big time.
‘Hopefully they [the A-League] look into it.’
Central Coast Mariners striker and Socceroos World Cup hopeful Jason Cummings believes the A-League should have started far ahead of the current kickoff of October 7
Italian journeyman Alessandro Diamanti of Western United was on the same page, stating the longer the gap, the more the level of enthusiasm among weary players diminishes
Brisbane Roar star recruit Austin was also bemused at the season starting so late with summer looming.
‘It certainly isn’t what I am used to back in the UK,’ he said. ‘All the lads just want to play, nothing beats a competitive game.
‘We were fortunate to go on a bit of a run [in the Australian Cup], and we are definitely looking forward to games week in, week out.’
One-time English prodigy Jack Rodwell, who has moved from the Western Sydney Wanderers to Sydney FC, is also craving the chance to get some matches under his belt.
Western United veteran Diamanti, 39, who at his peak represented Empoli, Fiorentina in Italy as well as West Ham United in the English Premier League, remains baffled at the monumental gap between seasons.
‘You can only train for so long against the same guys, after a while you just want to play,’ he said.
‘It is ridiculous, I believe.’
One-time English prodigy Jack Rodwell, who has moved from the Western Sydney Wanderers to Sydney FC, is also craving matches sooner rather than later
Former Socceroo turned TV identity Archie Thompson said it was a matter of the European players adjusting to the A-League in all facets
‘It is too long, something needs to happen. The longer the gap, you risk injuries and you lose enthusiasm.’
Former Socceroo turned TV identity Archie Thompson said it was a matter of the European players adjusting to the fixtures.
‘We [the A-League] have been going since 2005, playing over the summer months, it is nothing new,’ he said.
‘It is probably foreign for the guys that come here…but you get used to it, it is just the way it is.’
Thompson also dismissed talk of the competition moving to the winter months, where the A-League would have to compete against the likes of the AFL and NRL for crowds.
The A-League kicks off on October 7, when Melbourne City host grand final winners Western United at AAMI Park.
The season will also feature a mid-season break from November 18 to December 8 due to the World Cup in Qatar.