After only five rounds of the 2009 season, there appears to be a decline in the standard of football that is being played at AFL level around the nation. While St Kilda and Geelong are playing superlative football at the moment, perhaps those sides are being flattered by the ineptitude of the majority of its opposition.
It’s the age old argument, ‘But who have they beaten’ and it’s becoming more common. St Kilda are currently lining them up and knocking them down in impressive style but their opposition have been very meek to say the least. Now the Saints can only defeat whoever is put in front of them but perhaps we need to think about the current urgency regarding expansion of the league.
At the moment there appear to be up to eleven struggling teams in the competition, whether it be off field or on field. Some Melbourne clubs are struggling to earn a profit from home games at the Dome, Melbourne and Port can’t draw a crowd and the world financial situation is starting to effect the league with sponsorships being announced later and later during the off season. ‘Interstate’ sides that come to Melbourne are also games that don’t draw well for the AFL.
Yet the league is prepared to invest heavily in the Gold Coast. I’ve been to matches at Carrara and the stadium is a dump and believe me there was plenty of standing room available at the ground. The introduction of the Gold Coast team will not boost the standard of the league and will introduce another poor drawing game into the fixture every second week. I’m yet to be convinced that the Gold Coast community is clamouring for AFL football.
Then there is the looming disaster that is West Sydney. Like an Ostrich with its head firmly implanted in the sand, the AFL appears to be hell bent on proceeding with this misguided venture. This will create more thinning of the talent pool, more low drawing fixtures in Melbourne and another Shark in the tank for the sponsorship dollar. You have to worry about West Sydney when you observe the current plight of the Parramatta Eels. Rugby League is firmly entrenched in West Sydney yet the once mighty Eels are over 20 million dollars in debt.
At a time when the ‘man in the street’ has less dollars to spend on entertainment, the AFL is going to dilute the entertainment value by introducing new and untried brand names thus giving exposure to inferior ‘products’ (i.e. players that wouldn’t get an AFL game without the additional sides). The AFL is a business of course but if I was a shareholder, I would be asking questions.
My first question would be this: There are a couple of sides that aren’t putting bums on seats yet the corporation wants to add new teams to the league that will do the same. Why can’t we instead reduce the amount of teams in the league and have a game less ordinary?