Hyundai A-League sizzles summer

Hyundai A-League chief Lyall Gorman is confident the later start to the 2011/12 season will enable the league to thrive again and 'take over summer sport' in Australia.

Hyundai A-League chief Lyall Gorman is confident the later start to the 2011/12 season will enable the league to thrive again and 'take over summer sport' in Australia.

The draw for the next Hyundai A-League season was released on Tuesday with the competition to start in October, two months later than it did last season.

It's a move designed to avoid a clash with the NRL and AFL finals, which have historically taken away much publicity and excitement from the start of the Hyundai A-League season.

"It's a tough gig for us competing in the final series in the other two football codes in August and September but a clear space will give us an opportunity to get some strong momentum," Gorman said on Tuesday.

"It will allow our fans the opportunity to put away one hat or one scarf and put on another in clean time rather that the conflict of having to try to be a member here and a member there."

"Going forward a critical component of our game is the conversion of our current conversion rate and our attendance at games into fully fledged members."

"Summer sport is going to be all about football and that will be launched on the back of the Qantas Socceroos' game on October the 7th."

The later start of course means a later finish, with the Hyundai A-League Grand Final set down for the weekend of April 20-22.

Asked if he believed a clash with the AFL and NRL would detract from the Hyundai A-League finals, Gorman said: "We've got to go into the market, walk tall with our head up and be confident about where we're positioning ourselves."

"The momentum we'll have at that time of the year and the fact that it's our finals series will stand us in very good stead."

"We've carefully positioned our draw to make sure there are no long periods of time where any team is disadvantaged by an absence in their own marketplace."

"We've tried to ensure a very strong presence in the Melbourne market, obiviously with two clubs over there, to make sure that there is a football presence week in week out in what clearly is a major market for us."

The two Melbourne club's struck up a fierce rivalry in the Heart's debut year and meet in round three of the new season at Etihad Stadium.

After two 'away' fixtures against the Heart last season, the Victory were hoping for two at home in the upcoming campaign but will again be visitors for two of the three encounters in 2011/12.

"The one disappointing aspect of the fixture is that we won't be hosting Melbourne Heart twice," said Victory Chairman Anthony Di Pietro.

"The FFA, in its discretion, has again scheduled us only one home game against Melbourne Heart for the second successive season and we have expressed our disappointment about this on behalf of our members and fans."

Sydney have been handed a tough start to the new season, facing four of the top clubs from last season in their first four games, starting against the Victory in Melbourne.

"We see that as a big challenge and one that we will step up to," Sky Blues boss Vitezslav Lavicka said.

"We will be really refreshed for the new season, we've added some very good players recently too so we are building along nicely."

The highlight of the opening round sees a Grand Final rematch between double winners Brisbane and the Central Coast at Suncorp Stadium.

"A home Grand Final re-match is a perfect way to start our season," Roar CEO Eugenie Buckley said. "We're very excited and hope the fans are too."

Also in week one, Adelaide United travel to Perth to play the Glory, who have recruited former Reds stars Travis Dodd and Adam Hughes for the new season.

"It's going to be a big game, especially for myself and Hughesy, but in saying that you can't let emotion get the better of you," former Adelaide skipper Dodd said.

"I'm happy that we are playing them in the first game."

"I am certainly going to give it my all, now that I'm with Glory, and make sure we get the three points for the first game."

After the difficulties attracting crowds for midweek games last season, there is just one Wednesday round next season, while there will also five standalone matches to be held in regional centres, which are yet to be confirmed.

"The scheduled series of regional matches is another wonderful initiative which much like our Community Football Festivals will enable us to spread the word of football by bringing the Hyundai A-League to new frontiers," Heart Chief Executive Officer Scott Munn said.

"The draw most certainly represents a significant progression in all areas and we look ahead with anticipation to the first match of the season in 130 days time."

Meanwhile Gorman said Football Federation Australia will also invest more money in marketing the league.