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Victory lead A-League off field

Melbourne Victory have launched an attack on A-League bosses for the "boring" fixtures scheduled for free-to-air TV.

Chairman Anthony Di Pietro sounded out Football Federation Australia (FFA) on fixturing at a club business lunch while boasting Victory's off-field success.

"Free-to-air TV should showcase the best game of the round, that will bring the biggest audiences, and not aim to bore viewers and to pander to the grumblings of a vocal few," Di Pietro said.

"Those in charge of the fixture would be wise to think clearly next year."

The new television rights deal, inked last year, brings the A-League to a free-to-air audience through SBS2 on Friday nights each week, dramatically increasing the audience.

Di Pietro claimed more than 600,000 watched Victory's matches on SBS2 already this season, representing huge brand exposure.

But it remains to be seen whether FFA will respond to the call, as Victory feature six times on SBS2 this season, below all but Brisbane Roar with eight games.

Victory confirmed their status as the A-League's powerhouse club with an extraordinary set of accounts to make other clubs weep.

Di Pietro reported membership up 19 per cent to 21,500 members, sponsorship up 17 per cent and Victory's league-leading crowds growing by nine per cent.

He also confirmed a small profit, understood to be around $250,000, suggesting the nine other clubs were "posting combined losses of $20 million plus".

Victory has a number of ex-AFL club staff in senior roles, including chief executive Ian Robson, and clearly revels in the cross-code comparison.

"Many believe that Melbourne Victory is the Collingwood of the A-League. You either love us or you loathe us," he said.

Another ambitious project is set to be realised, with a Victory junior football academy in the works.

Di Pietro reported the club was close to signing an agreement for a site for the academy, to be established and run wholly by the club.

"It will be the Victory way, beyond compare, with players selected on merit and technical ability. And no child will be restricted by their family's financial position," he said.

The academy, an approach favoured by leading European football clubs, would be integrated into the club's National Youth League and A-League sides.


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