How can anyone be satisfied with the performance of the APL?

    What do you get when you combine the word ‘in’ with ‘competent?’ An accurate description of the APL – the organisation currently running the A-League into the ground.

    Can anyone guess how many fans turned up at Allianz Stadium on Christmas Eve to watch Macarthur Bulls smash Sydney FC 3-0 and heap even more misery on Sky Blues coach Steve Corica?

    It’s TBA. Perhaps by the time Saturday afternoon’s minuscule crowd is announced, we’ll have forgotten the fixture even took place.

    Which is no doubt what Danny Townsend and the Australian Professional Leagues are hoping we do around their decision to sell off the next three grand finals to Sydney.

    Make no mistake, the APL has drawn a line in the sand and made it crystal clear they are anti-fans.

    Why wouldn’t they be? It’s not like Townsend or the likes of Paul Lederer and Chris Fong or any of the other executives who put their name to the most cataclysmic decision in A-League history have ever had to buy tickets to games.

    They wouldn’t have a clue how much time and effort fans put into attending matches – particularly away from home – because they’ve never had to do it themselves.

    Danny Townsend (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

    Which is why Brisbane Roar fans were one of the first groups punished for the behaviour of Melbourne Victory supporters at the recent Melbourne Derby.

    It was Football Australia who handed down a range of barely decipherable sanctions, but it’s travelling Brisbane Roar supporters – all of whom booked their flights and accommodation long ago – who join law-abiding Victory supporters in being unfairly locked out of the fixture at AAMI Park on January 6.

    But the administrators who run the sport don’t care. If you paid for expensive flights to watch your A-League team in peak holiday season, that’s your problem. They already think you’re insane for being a passionate football supporter in the first place.

    Because if the past couple of weeks have taught us anything, it’s that the APL have no understanding of football, no comprehension of fans, and no idea how to run the A-League.

    Why else would you allow police and security personnel to stand around twiddling their thumbs at the 20-minute mark of the most volatile A-League fixture in years?

    The excuse trotted out by the powers-that-be that they thought Victory active supporters were simply planning “to walk out” is laughable.

    But it’s in keeping with an organisation that signed off a broadcast deal which has apparently crippled the league less than two seasons in, which wasted $30 million on the world’s most confusing website, and which thought nothing of breezily locking out the majority of A-League fans from watching their team host the grand final – only to seem genuinely astounded by the response.

    If this were any other industry, many of these decision-makers would have been tapped on the shoulder and asked to find a new line of work long ago.

    But because this is the A-League, with its lack of media scrutiny and any real consequences for poor performance, the competition blunders along making mistake after mistake.

    No one disputes the fact that hooligans can never be permitted to wreck A-League matches. The actions of a handful of anti-social idiots have ruined several fixtures for the rest of us.

    (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

    And Football Australia and Melbourne Victory are no doubt caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to doling out appropriate punishments.

    But all of this stems from the APL’s staggering incompetence in handling one of the most divisive decisions in the competition’s 18-year history.

    If they couldn’t understand how fans would react to the decision then they don’t understand football – and nothing over the last two weeks suggests they’ve suddenly got a clue.

    So on and on the latest battleground rumbles in the never-ending war on A-League fans.

    Apparently a festive season full of empty seats, disengaged viewers and dismayed players is exactly what the APL wants.

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