Football Federation Australia's FFA Cup To Link Grassroots Level With Top Clubs
Amateur footballers across Australia can "dream of toppling the giants of the A-League in a meaningful competition with the introduction of a national knockout competition," the Football Federation Australia Cup, beginning in July, according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The tournament will "provide a definitive link between the grassroots level of the game and the elite clubs with a meaningful national and cross-tier competition." There is "a resemblance with the oldest competition in football, the FA Cup in Britain," though the first few years of the Australian version are unlikely to include "such an abundance of romantic runs of amateur clubs" (SMH, 2/25).
LARGE FIELD: In Sydney, Ray Gatt reported more than 600 teams "from all six states and Canberra will play off against each other for 22 spots and the right to join the 10 A-League clubs in the round of 32." FFA CEO David Gallop said, "This has been in the pipeline for a number of years. It is the Holy Grail for football in making a true connection between the grassroots and the professional level. I can hardly think of a better way to do that than create a cup competition like this" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/25).
WHO'S GOT NEXT? In Melbourne, Smithies & Davutovic reported four of Victoria’s participants -- "most likely the semi-finalists of the Dockerty Cup -- will join the A-League and interstate sides in the Round of 32, starting late July." The tournament is costing almost A$1M ($900,000) to stage, and the draw has been "deliberately engineered to give semi-professional teams who advance to its latter stages the best opportunity of embarrassing the A-League clubs." At least one minor side is "guaranteed to reach the semi-finals, with 10 games to be broadcast on Fox Sports and a modest prizemoney pool" of A$120,000 including A$40,000 for the winning team. FFA will cover the traveling and accommodation costs for "each away team from the Round of 32, and the whole tournament leads to a final in December -- held this year, like all preceding rounds, on a Tuesday" (HERALD SUN, 2/24).