Next season’s Hyundai A-League Finals Series could use revolutionary video replays on contentious decisions, as the 2016/17 campaign gets set for a “big bang” start in October.
Speaking on Thursday at the unveiling of the draw for next season, Gallop revealed some exciting new initiatives, while also revealing the FFA was committed to helping clubs secure big marquee signings.
There are some huge games to kick off Season 12, with the first-ever Sydney Derby at ANZ Stadium in Round 1 set to break a league crowd record, while there’s also a Melbourne Derby and grand final rematch in Round 2.
“There’s also that traditional great rivalry between Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory in that period so it’s a blockbuster start to the year,” Gallop told reporters.
“Every week you look at the competition and see unpredictability and unscripted drama, which was so well played out at the end of Season 11,” he added.
“We’ve obviously got a big bang start to the A-League. That’s the moment when the other codes come off and we come on and we thought it was important to start with a big bang.”
Australia is also one of six countries given the green light by FIFA last week to commence offline trials of video assistant referees (VAR).
If all goes to plan, a VAR will be used in the Finals Series to help the referee adjudge on incidents like penalties, red cards and goals scored from contentious offside calls.
“Trials will commence [during the regular season] and then we’ll look to have that fully active by the finals,” Gallop said.
And while he could give no further updates on the prospect of Caltex Socceroo star Tim Cahill potentially returning to the A-League, Gallop reiterated the FFA’s commitment to working with clubs to deliver marquee players to the competition.
“It’s a bit of a watch this space at the moment. I can’t give guarantees but we’re doing everything we can,” he said.
“We’ve made a seven-figure commitment and we’ve had discussions with a club as recently as yesterday.
“I can’t give names out because I don’t know names but I do know it’s something that is top of mind for clubs and we all see that bringing big names into the competition is going to turn the dial for us.”
Part of the new initiatives in the draw include a split round late in the season to accommodate the clubs playing in the AFC Champions League, while there is a move away from afternoon kick-offs to try to avoid playing in stifling conditions.
“We play in summer and it’s a hot country so it’s difficult to completely cure that but I think we’ve taken steps this season to alleviate it as much as possible,” Gallop said.