Young and gold: cost-cutting unearths unlikely A-League finals riches | Jonathan Howcroft

Three goalscorers in Macarthur and Adelaide’s upset wins emerged in a pandemic-influenced campaign

Underdogs Adelaide United and Macarthur FC extended their seasons by at least another week after both survived nail-biting A-League elimination finals over the weekend. Playing away from home, the lower-ranked sides rode their luck in a pair of contests that testified to the higher intensity and drama of knockout competition.

Both finals contained many of the themes that have made this such an enjoyable season.

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A-League can help itself and Socceroos by pausing for international breaks | Emma Kemp

Australian football has learned that scheduling domestic and international games concurrently can cause a bit of a problem

The end of any sporting season is generally a time of discovery. It can shock and upset, illuminate already-recognised truths and surprise with new narratives.

The same can be said for the A-League’s transition from regular campaign to finals, a period when Melbourne City stopped flattering to deceive and the resuscitated Central Coast Mariners lived on for the first time in an age. Where new side Macarthur FC made the cut at their first attempt and Wellington Phoenix, displaced for 433 days, hosted a record crowd at their homecoming match in New Zealand.

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ViacomCBS deal points to brighter future for A-League and W-League | Jonathan Howcroft

The announcement of a new broadcast partner is the first step out of a dark hole for professional football in Australia

The revolution will be televised. Last week’s announcement of a five-year $200m broadcast partnership with ViacomCBS (owners of Network 10) represents the light at the end of the tunnel for the A-League and W-League. After years of off-field squabbling and existential crises Australian professional football can once again focus on the future.

That $200m figure is well below the previous six-year $346m deal with Fox Sports – a reflection of both the changing marketplace in broadcast rights and the declining status of the A-League – but it is at the upper end of expectations and sufficient to underpin the professional game in the short term.

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It would be a missed opportunity if A-League 2.0 was a facsimile of the original

Related: A-League and W-League unbundle from Football Australia in 'historic moment' for game

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