Sydney FC call for more A-League games
Sydney FC coach Ian Crook and playmaker Nicky Carle are calling for more A-League matches to combat the disadvantages of such a lengthy off-season.
The A-League went into recess after the grand final on April 22 and won't be back for its eighth season until the first round starts on October 5 - a gap of five and a half months.
Crook, who had his first pre-season training session at the helm of Sydney FC on Monday, said while players continue to train on their own in the off-season, nothing can replace a competitive environment.
He said one solution would be to add nine more rounds to the current 27-round regular season and have each team play each other four times instead of three, with each team playing two home games and two away games against each other.
"We can't continue to go on with such a huge off-season," Crook said.
"I've actually suggested an extra round of matches between teams and have all teams play each other four times. I think that would be the fairer way to do it.
"Or whether you have a cup competition in there.
"I don't know what the solution is but the plain fact as a coach is you don't want to have the period off that we're having now."
Crook also feels the relatively short season is stunting player development with most other leagues around the world playing closer to 40 games a season.
"We can't continue to try to develop players when they're only playing for six months of the year, it just doesn't work," he said.
"Every other country in the world has longer seasons.
"Just last night Japan beat our under-20 team 5-0. The game has evolved so much in Japan, they train all the year through."
Carle also supported a 36-game regular season and said it would not only help the league but the benefits of more matches would extend to players vying for national team selection.
"I think everyone finds the long off-season a bit annoying, but that's the way it is," Carle said.
"I'd love to see more rounds come into it ... I'd be massive supporter of it.
"It would keep you fitter for a longer period of time.
"It would be better for a variety of reasons. It means you may get a few more injuries and younger players may get more chances.
"And for people who want to make national teams, with such a long break it really affects your chances."