Sunday Territorian 6 Oct 2019
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
46 SPORT SUNDAY OCTOBER 6 2019 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 The glorious chance that must be taken EMMA KEMP PITIFUL TV ratings and bare stadiums tell the harshest truths for a game struggling to grow. But days out from kickoff for the ALeagues 15th season, EMMA KEMP explains why all is not lost. A soon-to-beindependent league can thrive if bosses get it right. SIGN A BONA-FIDE MARQUEE Since Alessandro Del Piero (2012-14), FFA has struggled to land another global star of that ilk. Detractors of the marquee strategy argue that casual fans lured by Del Piero didnt stick around once he was gone. So keep signing them so theres no lull. EXPAND TO 14 TEAMS This seasons introduction of Western United and next seasons entry of Macarthur Bulls has been a long time coming. The next phase must be implemented with far more urgency. If two more franchises join in season 2021-22, bringing the total to 14, it would allow for a full home-and-away season. LINK THE TIERS Its only a matter of time before a national second division is introduced and, eventually, promotion and relegation. A plan drawn up by the national second division working group recommends eight clubs can be up and running by 2021-22 in markets not serviced by the A-League. REVERSE RATINGS TV viewership in 2018-19 was 40 per cent lower than in 2016-17. The 2019 grand final was watched by an average audience of 137,000, compared with the 460,000 who tuned into the 2016-17 decider. Months-long talks with Channel 10 about broadcasting two games each round ex clusively on its main channel came to nothing. But alongside Fox Sports, who will broadcast all games, the ABC has stepped in to show early Saturday games on ABC1. While lacking the financial windfall of a commercial network, this could still be a winner, with hopes the ABC will deliver six-figure audiences. PROMOTE THE LEAGUE A lack of visibility has been a massive roadblock to obtaining and retaining fans, particularly a failure to connect the professional game with Australias massive grassroots participation base. SUPPORT ACTIVE SUPPORTERS Official active supporter groups are the A-Leagues biggest strength and yet football crowd culture remains largely misunderstood in Australia. Violence, racism and flares are unacceptable, but entrenched football hooligan stereotypes make the A-League an easy target. Education is imperative. SCRAP THE SALARY CAP The players union has long called the model broken, contending the $3 million restriction creates an illusion of parity between the haves and have-nots. MORE OPPORTUNIT IES FOR YOUTH A top flight of 11 teams means limited chances for young Australian players to experience regular first-team football. A push to expand each clubs visa player quota would narrow the development bottleneck even further. Perhaps shifting the wages of imports to outside the salary cap could ease the problem. The world game is in a state of disrepair in Australia but there are plenty of opportunities going forward White leads Wildcats to late victory CRAIG ODONGHUE Perth star Terrico White GRAND final MVP Terrico White produced a stunning final quarter to lift the Perth Wildcats to a come-from-behind 94-93 victory over an injury-hit Melbourne United at RAC Arena yesterday. White was outstanding and scored 14 points during the final period, including the winning three-pointer with less than 12 seconds remaining to give his team victory in the grand final re-match. He scored only six points in the first three quarters but showed his class when it mattered. Nick Kay continued his outstanding form from the World Cup with 18 points and eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Bryce Cotton was typically influential with 21 points. United entered the match without captain Chris Goulding (ankle), import Casey Prather (knee) and Australian Boomer David Barlow (thumb), leaving them seriously understrength. United were also playing their second game in three days, having lost to South East Melbourne Phoenix on Thursday night. Goulding ignored pain to score 27 points, including six three-pointers, against the Phoenix and travelled to Perth, but failed to recover in time for the clash. In contrast, the Wildcats were playing their first game of the season and were almost at full strength, with only teenager Wani Swaka Lo Buluk (ankle) unavailable. Strasburg serves up another dominant showing as Nationals hold off Dodgers in playoffs STEPHEN Strasburg turned in another dominant playoff outing, Max Scherzer overpowered Los Angeles for an inning out of the bullpen and Washington held off the Dodgers 4-2 to even their NL Division Series at a game apiece. Scherzer struck out the side in the eighth, but Washingtons shaky bullpen still ran into trouble. Daniel Hudson laboured through the ninth, loading the bases with two outs before striking out Corey Seager for the save. The tense final inning also included a twisting, falling grab by third baseman Anthony Rendon on Cody Bellingers pop fly. DJ LeMahieu homered and drove in four runs, Gleyber Torres broke a tie with a two run double and the Yankees extended their October mastery of Minnesota with a 10-4 victory in the AL Division Series opener. Aaron Judge made two diving catches in right field as the AL East champions handed Minnesota its major league-record 14th consecutive playoff defeat 11 of them to the Yankees since 2004. Brett Gardner also went deep for the Bronx Bombers in a playoff matchup between teams that finished neck-andneck this year for the most home runs in baseball history. Justin Verlander looked every bit the October ace, Jose Altuve polished his postseason resume and Houston kept rolling, beating the Rays 6-2 to open their AL Division Series. Verlander kept up his dominant run this year when he posted an MLB-most 21 wins and fanned 300, allowing just a soft single in seven shutout innings. And Mike Foltynewicz threw seven crisp innings before pinch-hitter Adam Duvall hit a two-run homer that carried Atlanta to a 3-0 victory over St Louis, the NL Division Series level at one game apiece.Stephen Strasburg
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