Alen Stajcic calls on Australia's warring football factions to unite
Central Coast Mariners coach Alen Stajcic says there has never been a more important time in the last five years for Australia's football leaders to come up with a wide-ranging plan everyone can support.
He also warns that people currently pulling the game in different directions and pursuing self interest are risking a repeat of past mistakes.
It's looming as a critical week for the A-League in particular, with Football Federation Australia scheduled to make a status assessment on Wednesday after the competition was postponed on March 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Football has endured a turbulent history in Australia and is currently going through a period of great uncertainty, not just over when the A-League will resume but also with concerns over the broadcasting deal with Fox Sports and the separation of FFA from the A-League still to be formalised.
"I'm always optimistic," Stajcic told AAP. "In this country we've come a long way. We've had ups and downs and shot ourselves in the foot along the way, but we've always found a way to recover and grow the game again.
"This for me is the perfect time for a reset for the game, to really see where we've been over the last two or three years.
"See what we need to do to make the A-league and the W-League and the national teams even stronger.
"This is probably the most important period in the last five years for me in terms of the leaders of our game coming up with a plan that we can all buy into and aspire to, and grow the game from the level where it is at at the moment."
Football's progress in Australia has often been halted by warring factions within the code.
Stajcic stressed the need for unity and greater engagement.
"We have to have alignment across the country. That includes the FFA, member federations, the leagues, the A-League, a proposed second division, NPL comps," Stajcic said.
"If there's pulling in different directions, and we do have it at the moment, then we are just going to keep getting what we've had in the last few years.
"That's people just fending for themselves and their self interest and it becomes the major player in big decision-making.
"There needs to be greater engagement from all levels of the game.
"We've talked about it forever, but we've never really managed to engage all the different levels of the game into each other and that goes from grassroots to the A-League."