Real emotion will come to the A-League when the football landscape is reshaped to include football’s trump card: relegation and promotion, he says.
And that sense of urgency will help players, too.
Olympic FC coach Ben Cahn told FTBL that the A-League needs to change.
This was underlined during Cahn’s stint in the A-League with the Central Coast Mariners youth team and head of the performance phase in 2016 and 2017.
“The first team were bottom of the A-League towards the end of the season. Nothing to play for,” Cahn, a former Fulham FC junior, recalled.
"Fans were disengaged, staff members were planning for next year, players who were out of contract had mostly agreed to moves elsewhere and were counting the days until the end of the season.
"Players that were contracted for the following year were cruising.
"It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it’s just the conditions that didn’t demand anything more from anyone.
"Imagine how different it would have been if relegation from the A-League was on the line?
"When the stakes are higher, the emotion is higher, and emotion is what captures people.”
Cahn grew up in England and understands like many that financial security as a consequence of avoiding relegation drives players on.
At the same time, relegation clauses in player contracts help clubs survive.
And broadcasters and fans lap-up relegation drama and theatre as the season reaches its climax.
Other codes in Australia would struggle to match that type of emotion, giving the A-League a huge boost as the sport moves out of the coronavirus lockdown stage.
And now is the time to use football’s vast landscape to begin reshaping ad reimagining a supercharged future, bringing genuine aspiration and opportunity.
A-League fans will love the passion and drama of a promotion and relegation playoff, says Cahn
"We need to connect the tiers; we need promotion and relegation and we need to align the calendars,” Cahn stressed.
"It’s what the majority of the football population wants to see, it’s the only way to bring meaning, emotion, and engagement to every game."