A recent thread on BigFooty.com has got me thinking about this. Is it time for an FA Cup-type tournament for the AFL?
Let’s face it, by years end not many people will remember that Adelaide did win the NAB Cup. Fewer will remember that West Coast played in the final. Why don’t we make it memorable?
The AFL did introduce a tournament like this for the state leagues last year, called the FOXTEL Cup, which was won by Williamstown. It was played in the Saturday twilight time slot last year, however this year it has been changed to Saturday morning’s due to the new 9th match of the round taking place in it’s previous slot.
If this gets introduced the tournament will obviously have to be played midweek during the season. If some soccer and NBA teams can play up to 3 games a week, I don’t see this as being a major problem. Much like Origin has pumped up the NRL rights for years, the AFL can obviously charge more for TV rights due to this tournament being held.
I also think that the clubs would be in favour of having just practice matches during the pre-season, and not battling it out to play in a ‘Grand Final’. This tournament would also give sides entrenched in the bottom 10 the chance to compete and try and win something, while the top 8 sides would have to try and manage their team through both tournaments, which in turn would get younger players more meaningful match experience.
There could also be the opportunity of getting state league sides and maybe even local sides the chance to qualify to play these AFL sides. This could re-unite local and grassroots football with the big stuff. AFL sides could also return to their original grounds if suitable.
The FA Cup has been criticized in the past few years due to the large amount of funds with the premier league sides against the smaller sides, but this won’t be a problem with the competition. Sure the state league teams have smaller salary caps, but don’t forget rookie listed and second rank players will be able to play with their affiliates.
Maybe this is just an awesome dream, but I really think that this could work and make the NAB Cup meaningful. Bring on the real season.