A-League chief Lyall Gorman is confident the later start to the 2011/12 season will enable the league to thrive again and ‘take over summer sport’ in Australia.
The draw for the next A-League season was released on Tuesday with the competition to start in October, two months later than it did last season.
It is a move designed to avoid a clash with the NRL and AFL finals, which have historically taken away much publicity and excitement from the start of the A-League season.
“It’s a tough gig for us competing in the final series in the other two football codes in August and September but a clear space will give us an opportunity to get some strong momentum,” Gorman said.
“It will allow our fans the opportunity to put away one hat or one scarf and put on another in clean time rather that the conflict of having to try to be a member here and a member there.”
“Going forward a critical component of our game is the conversion of our current conversion rate and our attendance at games into fully fledged members.”
“Summer sport is going to be all about football and that will be launched on the back of the Socceroos’ game on October 7.”
The later start also means a later finish, with the A-League Grand Final set down for the weekend of April 20-22.
Asked if he believed a clash with the AFL and NRL would detract from the A-League finals, Gorman said: “We’ve got to go into the market, walk tall with our head up and be confident about where we’re positioning ourselves.”
“The momentum we’ll have at that time of the year and the fact that it’s our finals series will stand us in very good stead.”
“We’ve carefully positioned our draw to make sure there are no long periods of time where any team is disadvantaged by an absence in their own marketplace.”
“We’ve tried to ensure a very strong presence in the Melbourne market, obviously with two clubs over there, to make sure that there is a football presence week in week out in what clearly is a major market for us.”
The highlight of the opening round sees a Grand Final rematch between Brisbane and Central Coast at Suncorp Stadium, while Adelaide United travel to Perth to play the Glory, who have recruited former Reds stars Travis Dodd and Adam Hughes for the new season.