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Jan 23, 2012

Mariners told to embrace ACL, not complain

Central Coast have received little sympathy over complaints of a gruelling A-League schedule during the Asian Champions League, with league chief Lyall Gorman calling it "an unfortunate fact of life".

Mariners coach Graham Arnold has vented his frustrations over the scheduling of away trips to Perth and Wellington late in the season when his side is also embarking on its ACL campaign.

The Mariners are away to Chinese side Tianjin Teda in their first ACL match on March 7 and have to back up for an away trip to Perth four days later, while they face Wellington away from home four days after the return leg against Tianjin in Gosford on March 21.

Arnold labelled that scheduling "crazy", saying FFA knew the club would be competing in the ACL when the season draw was made, and the Mariners appealed to have the fixtures altered.

But FFA has ruled out any changes, saying they were not possible due to venue availability, pre-planning of travel options and fairness to the Phoenix and Glory.

Head of the A-League Gorman, a former Mariners chief, said in a Football Federation Australia column on Tuesday the Mariners should be embracing their participation in the ACL, not "dwelling upon inconveniences".

"The so-called 'horror' draw for the Mariners is an unfortunate fact of life when the A-League and ACL have overlapping seasons," Gorman said.

"Clubs in Japan, South Korea and China have been dealing with this for years and now it's happening to our clubs.

"Playing three games in a week is the price of success.

"Clubs must deal with not only the rigours of playing, but also the rigours of travel.

"The better the team, the heavier the burden ... Look how Barcelona and Manchester United cram around 60 matches into 10 months every year."

Gorman said an increase in the allowed squad sizes for the ACL to 30 players would help clubs deal with extra exertion needed and said FFA had made "strong representations" to the AFC on behalf of Australia's 2012 ACL representatives; the Mariners, Brisbane Roar and Adelaide.

Gorman said the recent transfer of Chelsea star Nicolas Anelka to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua showed where Asian football and the ACL were heading.

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