Australian legend Archie Thompson has enthusiastically backed the idea of moving the next A-League season to align with Asia.
Football Federation Australia today reconfirmed its intention to resume the A-League 2019/20 season 'as soon as possible'.
This would be contingent on a number of criteria that need to be satisfied before a firm date for the resumption could be set.
“Ultimately, the coronavirus will have the final say on when we can get the season started again, and completed,” said FFA CEO James Johnson today.
Thompson, an A-League legend with Melbourne Victory, says this delay in the 2019/20 season offers football in Australia a golden opportunity to make a crucial change to the next A-League season.
“Who knows when this coronavirus situation will be over,” he told FTBL today.
“But you’d want to get rid of it [the virus] completely before football returned."
This allows the sport to start afresh in 2021, aligned and ready for a new era in football domestically.
“This is an amazing opportunity now for us to have a pre-season in January and February next year, and to restart the league in March next year, which is when the big Asian leagues kick-off.
“It’s a great idea. An amazing idea. I’d be up for that and I’m sure the players would too," Thompson said.
Football Victoria has already flagged their desire to play community football beyond September this year.
“We can have a summer grand final in December, have a break then restart and go big for 2021.
“Look at the heat in summer? It was pretty bad [last season] and that’s not going to get any better.
“100% of the players would be up for it, playing March to November, and I know the players want to be competitive in Asia."
Johnson added: “Football takes its responsibilities as a good corporate citizen very seriously, and remains committed to working in partnership with the Government to slow the spread of COVID-19.
"At the same time, we want to play our part in supporting the social and mental wellbeing of the Australian football family and all sports-loving Australians."
Thompson believes such a calendar move will help A-League clubs in the Asian Champions League as well as the Socceroos in World Cup qualifiers.
“Obviously playing for Victory, the Asian Champions League was so hard trying to fit it into the Finals Series then potentially having to play the knockout rounds during the off-season.
“We have such big gaps in the calendar here.
“Why not? It would be a massive boost.
"The media coverage won’t be massively different from what we get in summer and football will be a better standard because matches will be faster."
The move to summer football happened around 30 years ago.
Many feel circumstances have changed and it's time to rethink the calendar.
Thompson added: “It's something different for the sports fans, if you get sick of watching AFL or NRL, you’ve got the A-League."