Ever wondered how the boffins at FFA headquarters manage to organise all those games? We spoke to the brains behind the Hyundai A-League 2012/13 season draw to find out just how the process works...
Creating a season from scratch is a big ask - 10 teams, and 135 football matches in 26 weeks. Ever wondered how the boffins at FFA headquarters manage to organise all those games? We spoke to the brains behind the Hyundai A-League 2012/13 season draw to find out just how the process works...
First, we consult with the key stakeholders - clubs, fans, media and broadcasters - for input, ideas and feedback on the Hyundai A-League structure and format.
Clubs provide with specific requests and preferences, while we also we held a workshop with football media and engaged with the fans with an online survey and on social media.
Creating the draw is a real challenge but we have invested in world-leading software, used by the AFL and NRL, the American NFL and MLS, and Ligue 1 and 2 in France.
One of the big challenges is venue availability, particularly when the other codes are still running - Melbourne Victory play five matches each season at Etihad Stadium, for example, but we only have a certain window when these games can be played.
Another issue is participation in the AFC Champions League. For the first time, we have up to four clubs in the ACL across the season.
In the first five or six weeks for 2012/13 we had to plan for Adelaide United-s potential ongoing success, and once we hit the back-end of season we have Central Coast Mariners, Brisbane Roar and possibly Perth Glory in the 2013 edition.
Generally, we ensure clubs don-t play more than two consecutive home or away games, and we work very hard to minimise congestion and create space between matches so players can recover adequately.
We also make sure all clubs have a home game in the first two weeks of the season and try to have at least six weeks between opponent match-ups.
Once all that is built in, we look at the first few rounds to kick off the season with a bang. Performances and points ultimately dictate the big matches as the season goes on, but we think we-ve created an even spread of big matches each week.
We also have some great occasions that we want to evolve into annual events fans can look forward to.
This season we-ve got a Melbourne Cup eve fixture at Etihad Stadium when Victory host the Phoenix and an annual Boxing Day fixture, this time at Hindmarsh for Adelaide v Roar.
We-ve also got two games on New Year-s Eve and a first on New Year-s Day - a date on the sports calendar we believe football can own!
Then there-s the first ever intra city double derby on Australia Day, when Victory host Sydney FC, followed by Western Sydney v Heart. And if that weren-t enough, there-s a Labour Day game when Heart will take on Adelaide - hopefully that start of a great rivalry - and a Good Friday cracker with the Jets hosting Western Sydney.
The revised finals series has also given us an extra week for the regular season, which means fewer midweek games.
Every season draw will create plenty opinions and, let-s face it, not everyone will be 100 per cent happy. Our job is to ensure we provide a balanced schedule that gives the clubs and the league the best opportunity to grow - and hopefully give the fans a season to remember.