Former Socceroo and football commentator Robbie Slater believes the current A-League Men’s season has been the worst in the competition’s history.
It’s been a tough campaign for Australia’s domestic national football league with COVID-19 forcing mass postponements of matches early in the season, meaning many games have been played mid-week as the competition has tried to catch up on fixtures.
The disruptions have hindered the A-League Men building momentum, with crowds at an all-time low across the competition, while free-to-air TV ratings on Network Ten have been poor and new streaming partner Paramount+ has been widely criticised for its offering.
This season is the first run by the newly-formed Australian Professional Leagues, which is effectively the clubs themselves, with Football Australia stepping back to run the rest of the national game around the country.
Slater, who covered the A-League Men for more than a decade with Fox Sports, feels the competition’s health has never been worse and claims current coaches and players agree with him.
“I can honestly tell you that I’ve spoken to three A-League (Men) coaches and four or five players over the last couple of weeks, I tell you [they have said] [the A-League is] not in good shape, Slater told Big Sports Breakfast.
“They can’t wait until the season ends. They are worried about their futures. And they are worried about the statements that come out [from the APL], ‘we’re going to spend money next season’.
“What’s going to be different when this season ends? And this season will be the worst A-League [Men] season on record – no doubt. [It’s] daylight to the second worst [season] if you want to put it in those kind of terms.
“What is going to be different when they kick off the next one? That’s the question and that’s what needs to be answered.
“Like I said, [the coaches] are very despondent about the direction of the game – where the game is at the moment. It’s just not a pretty picture.
“What amazes me is the lack of accountability for what’s gone and what’s going on is absolutely extraordinary.”