The players have spoken and the message is loud and clear: the A-League schedule must change as soon as possible to get rid of the longest pre-season in world football.
Daily Mail Australia attended the official launch of the 2022/23 league in Melbourne on Tuesday and the feedback was unanimous: the current gap between seasons is ‘ridiculous’ and needs to be narrowed if the code is to enjoy a renaissance in Australia.
Players including Socceroo cult hero Jason Cummings, Brisbane Roar striker Charlie Austin and Western United veteran Alessandro Diamanti expressed frustration at the huge gap between competitive matches.
Last season ended with the grand finale on May 28, and this campaign is due to start on October 7, a gap of more than four months.
“It’s been a long pre-season, the boys are itching to get stuck in,” Cummings, a forward for the Central Coast Mariners and a Socceroos World Cup contender, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘If it was up to me, it would have started a couple of months ago. I’m buzzing that it’s finally here, but come the middle of summer, I’m going to be sweating it out on the field, big time.
‘Hopefully they [the A-League] look inside.’
Central Coast Mariners striker and Socceroos World Cup contender Jason Cummings believes the A-League should have started well before the current Oct. 7 kick-off.
Western United’s Italian official Alessandro Diamanti was on the same page, stating that the longer the gap, the more the level of enthusiasm among tired players diminishes.
Brisbane Roar star recruit Austin was also taken aback by the season starting so late with summer looming.
“It’s certainly not what I’m used to in the UK,” he said. All the guys just want to play, nothing better than a competitive game.
“We were lucky enough to go a bit of a race [in the Australian Cup]and we definitely look forward to the games week after week.”
Former English prodigy Jack Rodwell, who moved from Western Sydney Wanderers to Sydney FC, is also longing for the chance to get some games under his belt.
Western United veteran Diamanti, 39, who in his prime represented Empoli, Fiorentina in Italy and West Ham United in the English Premier League, remains puzzled by 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.
I think it’s ridiculous.
Former English prodigy Jack Rodwell, who moved from Western Sydney Wanderers to Sydney FC, is also hankering for matches sooner rather than later.
Former Socceroo turned TV personality Archie Thompson said it was a question of European players adapting to the A-League in all facets.
‘It’s too long, something has to happen. The longer the gap, you risk injury and lose enthusiasm.’
Former Socceroo turned TV personality Archie Thompson said it was a matter of European players adapting to matches.
‘Us [the A-League] they’ve been going since 2005, playing during the summer months, it’s nothing new,’ he said.
‘It’s probably weird for guys to come here… but you get used to it, that’s just the way it is.’
Thompson also ruled out the competition being moved to the winter months, where the A-League would have to compete against the AFL and NRL for crowds.
The A-League kicks off on October 7, when Melbourne City host the 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.