Derbies aside, the finals galvanise the most interest among A-League fans.
Often called upon to reinvigorate a tired end to a 27-round season, the finals have played an important rule in the A-League’s history.
But does this mean it has to be part of the league’s future?
The finals would not be eradicated to match the rest of the world, but for the betterment of league – placing greater emphasis on the FFA Cup and qualification into the AFC Champions League.
As far as who wins the league goes, football traditionalists would tell you the premiers should always be celebrated and recognised as the best team of the season.
While A-League fans acknowledge this, the finals prevent it from being accepted.
Despite finishing fourth and 23 points off first it was Melbourne Victory who ‘won it’ last season, not Sydney FC.
What Melbourne Victory accomplished deserves to be celebrated, for they became the first team to win the Championship from fourth. However, should this be valued more than what Sydney FC achieved?
The system places greater emphasis on the sprint rather than the marathon, in addition to providing a false sense of fulfillment to those who scrape into the top six in a ten-team competition.
Moreover, scrapping the finals could also amplify the significance of qualifying for the AFC Champions League.
Under the current system qualification into the AFC Champions League is more of an afterthought than an achievement, which is of major concern considering the A-League is in danger of losing one automatic entry.
Emphasising this incentive could help bridge Australia’s relationship with the Asian Football Confederation as well as promoting Asian football to an Australian audience.
Having a ‘top three’ – where first and second qualify for Champions League and third via a play-off – could work towards further legitimising the league by preventing the likelihood of the sixth ranked side to be crowned Champions.
Further, removing the finals series leaves more room for the FFA Cup to grow.
The FFA Cup is a significant tool in uniting football at a professional and grassroots level.
Its potential was recognised in the most recent edition as large crowds congregated at suburban grounds, leaving a positive atmosphere and outlook on football.
The final between Adelaide and Sydney was everything a final should be, and was a perfect end to the best edition so far.
Yet the competition’s prestige is limited, given it is regarded as the third biggest piece of silverware.
But this could change and the Cup – if done correctly – could be marketed as the ultimate finals series and winning it would mean so much more.
Expansion is the catalyst towards such change – for eradicating the finals now would only hurt the A-League.
Housing only ten teams, the finals series is the shot in the arm the league needs every season, but given where the league and football is headed, finals could be something best left in the past.