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Damien de Bohun rebuffs Central Coast Mariners' fury as Western Sydney Wanderers put in box seat

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Hard road ahead for Mariners

Central Coast Mariners will play for a spot in the A-League grand final 36 hours after arriving back in Australia. Is this fair?

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While the Central Coast Mariners are fuming about the scheduling of Saturday night's semi-final, A-League boss Damien de Bohun says it was impossible to find another timeslot.

The Mariners lost 1-0 to Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Wednesday night and only arrive back in Australia on Friday morning, giving them barely a day to prepare for their clash against the Western Sydney Wanderers at Parramatta Stadium.

The brutal turnaround puts the Wanderers in the box seat – their Asian Champions League match against Guizhou Renhe was played a day earlier and at home – to exact revenge on the Mariners for last season’s grand final defeat.

Tough trip: The 10-man Mariners were knocked out by Sanfrecce Hiroshima and will have barely a day to prepare for their ...

Tough trip: The 10-man Mariners were knocked out by Sanfrecce Hiroshima and will have barely a day to prepare for their A-League semi-final. Photo: Getty Images

The Mariners wanted the match moved to the Sunday but FFA said ground availability and television scheduling would not allow it.

"We had to make a booking for Suncorp Stadium for the Brisbane versus Melbourne Victory match and the only available time that was available was on Sunday," de Bohun said. "We'd have liked to had a match on Friday night, which was our original plan, but we moved that back a day to help the Mariners.

"You can't please everybody in doing the finals but our job is to make a system that is fair and equitable for everybody and we feel, given the circumstances, we've been able to accommodate all four teams within the parameters we have."

FFA believes it is better served from a television perspective by playing finals games over multiple days rather than on the same day, which explains why the match was not held on Sunday, despite Parramatta Stadium being available.

On Wednesday, Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth lambasted FFA for failing to give the club sufficient recovery time.

"I don't think this could happen anywhere else in the world," he said. "I know we've got a unique geographic situation but I don't think any other country would allow it. It's absolutely ludicrous.

"I understand the FFA are in a difficult situation but clearly a mistake has been made in the planning."

De Bohun praised the Australian clubs for their performances in the Champions League, despite the scheduling conflicts with the A-League.

"In a way, it's a good problem to have because it shows the strength of how our teams are performing in Asia," he said. "We had three teams who were competitive right to the last match day and who also made it into the final four of the A-League. That points to the health of our clubs and how strong the league has become. It's difficult to balance the A-League and the ACL but this is the reality of being in the big time."

The Mariners will check into their Parramatta hotel on Friday morning and try to get as much rest as possible before the match the following evening.

Charlesworth was also angry at FFA for a ticket allocation for visiting Mariners fans of just 1200 when he claimed they could have filled an entire end of the stadium, arguing they would have brought between 4000 and 5000 fans.

But de Bohun said the priority was looking after the home finals team.

"We understand their perspective but our belief is that, if you're a member of the side hosting the finals' match, you should have the right to purchase a ticket in your home team area," he said. "That's one of the advantages of earning the right to host a match and we have the same belief with all finals matches."

Although the current finals system remains a point of contention among the fans, especially those of top two sides who are given no second chances, de Bohun said he believed it was working well.

"Australians love finals, it's part of our sporting culture and we're comfortable we've found the right fit," he said. "The Easter weekend for crowds will always present a challenge but the television ratings were strong – over 300,000 for the Melbourne Victory-Sydney game – and there was some great football being played. It really sets up the semi-finals this weekend." 

8 comments so far

  • The FFA own the Wanderers they are trying to sell the Wanderers so they are making it impossible for the Mariners so as to increase the value of the Wanderers

    Commenter
    Sinny
    Date and time
    April 24, 2014, 9:43PM
    • Had the mariners finished 2nd they wouldve had the previous weekend off and been able to rest up more....that is no one else's fault but their own!! They knew of the acl draw and the possible implications for many months! Conversly had they performed better in the ACL and already qualified they couldbe rested players!!! Hardly a FFA conspiracy!!

      Commenter
      Wanderer6665
      Date and time
      April 25, 2014, 7:48AM
      • "FFA believes it is better served from a television perspective..".
        There it is. The cart before the horse.

        Moving the game from Friday to Saturday is a no-brainer, since the team flies back in to Sydney Friday morning.

        Anyway good luck CCMFC, show the a-league your strength.

        Commenter
        mariner2
        Date and time
        April 25, 2014, 9:24AM
        • De Bohun's says that the limited Mariner ticket allocation was to protect the right of Wanderers members to secure tickets in the home team area. But since there are 15,000 Wanderers members, this still left 5,000 tickets that could have been made available to Mariners up front or on a staged basis. I understand Mariners bays sold out by around midday on Tuesday, but 9,000 tickets were available on Wednesday morning for those subscribed to the FFA's football family. At best this was incompetence on the part of the FFA, at worst a deliberate attempt to minimise Mariners fans attendsnce, and as Sinny states, at least in some small way help boost the FFA's investment in WSW. Either way it is contemptuous of Mariners members at a time when all codes are putting members on a pedestal. I am surprised Sebastian Hassett just reported the nonsense from de Bohun unchallenged.

          Commenter
          Rising Sun
          Date and time
          April 25, 2014, 9:26AM
          • Hehe… this sets it up nicely for another Mariners win. The boys did well on tour against a top J League side at home (except for the penalty) and are in fine form despite the ACL demands. WSW had a week off and then a second rate China opponent at home - a mere training session. With Matty Simon and Hutcho rested the Mariners are set to shatter this FFA/WSW conspiracy unless the ref fix is already in. I'll be watching the balance of ref decisions…..can't wait for the game.

            Commenter
            Bonzo
            Location
            Central Coast
            Date and time
            April 25, 2014, 11:27AM
            • I think just about everyone will be backing the Mariners tomorrow on the back of the latest ffa debacle.

              Commenter
              joe
              Location
              chatswood
              Date and time
              April 25, 2014, 5:34PM
              • Mr De Bohun, you say fans love finals and we do. We would also like to watch them at the ground. The ticket allocation to other than Wanderers fans was pathetic. Game should have been played at a stadium who could accommodate larger crowds. Not only Wanderers and Mariners fans would want to go to the ground.
                You showed the bias FFA have towards their team, the Wanders, by saying the priority was looking after the home finals team. To say you could not move the game to Sunday is pure rubbish. What if there was a problem with Pirtek today like it being flooded out. You would them have been able to move the game.
                I would love to see the Mariners win just to spite the wishes of yourself and the FFA.
                You are doing a discredit to football. If you cannot do a better job of scheduling matches maybe you should resign from your overpaid position for which we the fans are paying your wage.

                Commenter
                Soccerfan
                Location
                God's Country
                Date and time
                April 26, 2014, 9:23AM
                • Well said, Mr de Bohun is either WSW backer or incompetent. His idea of a excellent preparation for a grand final qualifier is to send a team on a round trip of 16862 Kils and 23 hours and four min flight.Further a 16 hour transit flight arriving bacjk in Australia just a few hours before kick off. Give this bloke the flick and get a person who knows something about time zones and jet lag and the dangers of sitting in a cramped up aircraft for 11 and a 1/2 hours. What FFA wanted was the team with the largest spectator support in the A league in the grand final and they got it by hook or by crook. Jacko

                  Commenter
                  jacko
                  Date and time
                  April 28, 2014, 1:06PM

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