Schedule takes a toll on Brisbane Roar
FOOTBALL Federation Australia will be risking the health of Brisbane players if it forces the Roar to play an A-League game just three days before a likely AFC Champions League match in China.
That's the message from players' union Professional Footballers Australia, who will back the Roar in their bid to have their January 27 A-League clash against Central Coast Mariners in Gosford.
Provided the Roar, as expected, beat Myanmar club Shan United or the yet-to-be-determined 2017 Philippines Football League champions in Brisbane on January 23, they will advance to a Champions League playoff in China on January 30 against Tianjin Quanjin.
FFA official and A-League boss Greg O'Rourke said earlier this week that there was no guarantee the Mariners-Roar game would be postponed as Central Coast would be reluctant to give up one of just two free-to-air matches on their schedule this season.
O'Rourke comments did not sit well with the PFA, which has previously tabled its match-scheduling policy with FFA.
"The competitiveness of A-League clubs in Asia and player health and safety will continue to be compromised until we build the necessary flexibility into the A-League schedule," a PFA spokesman said.
"As a sport we need to focus on supporting clubs competing on multiple fronts through flexible scheduling and enhancing the resources available to them.
"The Roar's schedule could see them play as many as seven matches in 25 days in January, and also see them faced with the possibility of three matches in a week, which includes extensive long-haul travel to China with qualification for Asian football's biggest club competition at stake."
Brisbane faced a similarly tough schedule in their 2016-17 campaign as they juggled their A-League and Champions League commitments - at one stage playing nine matches in a gruelling 32-match scheduled that included trips to South Korea, China, Perth and Melbourne.
The PFA gathered data that revealed the Roar squad undertook more than 37,000 air miles of travel in that time.
Roar skipper Matt McKay said his club had "done it all" as he prepared for another tiring match and travel schedule.
"It's not easy," McKay said.
"We want to qualify for the (Champions League) group stages. As you get on, you cherish those kinds of competitions, playing against great teams, in great stadiums with great atmosphere, but we've got to keep our form up in the A-League first."