Manchester United Down Under

Red Devils travel to Australia for All-Star affair
by Perry Tsangas   |   Thursday, August 08, 2013

Oz Football – column on the Australian A-League, Socceroos & the Aussie soccer scene.

With nearly a 6-month offseason in Australia, the fans and players down-under are quite often starved of some high-quality football.

The Football Federation of Australia, to its credit, has finally taken a leaf from Major League Soccer and formed its own All-Star concept. The FFA, with all its wisdom, smartly allowed the fans to vote for the playing squad and coaching staff.

Melbourne Victory’s manager Ange Postecoglou was the man that had the honorable job of leading the best from the A-League against one of the world’s biggest and richest brands, Manchester United. It became the hottest ticket in Sydney and the match sold out in under an hour.

Just more than 83,000 witnessed David Moyes’ 1st win as Manchester United manager, as a full-strength Red Devils prevailed 5-1 against an awe struck All-Stars.

The All-Star concept proved to be valuable for the FFA, with mainstream television (channel 7) jumping on board with a $1 million offer for broadcast rights. Not only was this a financial windfall for the FFA, but also provided an opportunity for the game to be broadcast live on free to air television. Under 800,000 tuned in to both of 7s digital networks around the country.

It’s no secret that the majority of fans who attended came to watch Manchester United. The opposition was the reason why the concept worked on this occasion. The All-Star selected squad proved to be a conundrum for the FFA, as the players with the most fan votes did not make themselves available for the match.

This was the most disappointing aspect and one I hope the FFA doesn’t repeat.

While contractually the players didn’t have to play, the FFA couldn’t commit to selected national team players, as Australia were playing a 4-nation tournament in East Asia. Consequently, this ruled out Socceroos Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan from participating. The FFA cannot afford any more fixtures clashing in the future, especially when there is talk of Barcelona coming down-under next season.

The fans are the true stakeholders of the game and they want to see the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey, Shinji Ono and Thompson compete against the world’s best. These aforementioned players fittingly deserve the ‘marquee player’ tag as they have all contributed significantly to the rapid rise of the A-League, but they also deserved to represent for the first time the A-League All Star Game.

I’m sure FFA CEO David Gallop will contractually get the All-Star concept right, as the fans look forward to watching bigger names representing the A-League.


Northern Melbourne Institute of Tafe
Club Domestic:
Melbourne Victory FC
Club Foreign:
PAS Giannina
Perry hopes he can contribute to the growth of Australian football and play the best ambassadorial role for the sport. Currently a coach of Victoria in 7-a-side football for players disabilities.